CSU awarded $350,000 grant for Colorado Encyclopedia

Emily Girschick

Colorado State University was awarded $350,000 by the National Endowment for the Humanities to further develop the Colorado Encyclopedia, an online resource concerning all things Colorado.

The grant money extends through May 2022, when the project is expected to be finished. The grant will be administered through the Morgan Library and CSU’s Office of Sponsored Programs who will oversee the project schedule and spending.

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“The enhanced Colorado Encyclopedia seeks to become increasingly known, used and recognized as an authoritative, comprehensive resource on the history, life and culture of the state among teachers, students and the public, both here and beyond,” wrote Dawn Paschal, associate dean for Research, Digital Library, and Data Services and managing editor of the Colorado Encyclopedia, in an email to The Collegian.

The encyclopedia is in its second phase of development and with the grant money, will be expanded to include 300 new articles, 75 of which will be directed towards fourth, eighth and 10th grade readers.

These 75 articles will be accompanied by resource sets for teachers and 50 new “inquiry cards,” which are given out to encourage readers to continue exploring the encyclopedia and for marketing purposes.

New additions to the Colorado Encyclopedia under the grant will be focused on civics and civic related content, such as laws and governance. The expansion will also try to develop connections between existing entries to provide context and a more complete picture of Colorado while strengthening the encyclopedia’s humanities theme.

“Students of today are the voters of tomorrow. By adding the civics-related content, the project aims to stimulate excitement and interest in the political process in a day and age where both have waned,” Paschal wrote.

CSU Libraries host the encyclopedia website and are working with the Public Lands History Center, University of Colorado’s Center of the American West, Colorado Humanities and the University Press of Colorado on the expansion.

“The (project) partners have an established production process that relies on several experienced editors on staff who collaborate with a panel of consultants to identify appropriate topics and potential authors for new entries,” Paschal wrote.

Paschal and Editor-in-Chief William Wei of the University of Colorado are jointly responsible for the oversight of the project.

While most articles are written by editors and recruited authors, some entries are written by graduate students who are supervised by CSU and CU faculty. The Public Lands History Center will be responsible for hiring some of these graduate students to research and write articles.

“Over the next few years, the PLHC will be hiring history students to research and produce articles on various aspects of Colorado’s history for publication in the encyclopedia,” wrote Ariel Schnee, PLHC Faculty Project Manager, in an email to The Collegian.

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In order to win the grant, a written application was submitted to the National Endowment for Humanities under the Humanities Collections and Reference Resource Program. According to the website of the NEH, the average number of applications per year for this particular grant is 216 and only 40 are awarded.

The maximum award amount is $350,000 which is for implementation projects, but the grant is offered in smaller sums for pilot projects, which is how the Colorado Encyclopedia was originally funded. 

“We are extremely pleased and excited that this grant will allow us to continue working with the encyclopedia and offer more students the opportunity to research, write for, and have their work published in the Colorado Encyclopedia,” Schnee wrote.

Emily Girschick can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @EGirschick.