Allegheny College Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Grant to Support Digital Innovation in Chinese Language and Culture Curriculum

Allegheny College has received a $48,355 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the Digital Humanities Advancement Grant program to support planning efforts to develop a curriculum for intermediate Chinese language and culture that incorporates digital learning tools.

National Endowment for the Humanities logoThe project, titled “An Engaging Digital Curriculum for Intermediate Chinese Language and Culture,” is led by Allegheny Associate Professor of Chinese Xiaoling Shi, who is Chinese section head in the Department of World Languages and Cultures.

“We are very grateful for the National Endowment for the Humanities’ support of this innovative project,” Shi said. “Our proposed curriculum intends to advance a pedagogical shift in language teaching by taking up opportunities afforded by Web 2.0 to explore ways to improve communicative competence and develop critical cultural awareness.”

The goals of the proposed curriculum include:

  • Creating an immersive learning environment by pulling in rich resources from the online world
  • Engaging learners by utilizing online engagement tools and platforms and social media
  • Developing students’ critical cultural awareness by taking advantage of the immersion and engagement created.
Associate Professor of Chinese Xiaoling Shi
Associate Professor of Chinese Xiaoling Shi

“We are envisioning that this curriculum will also serve as a model for curriculum design not only for other less commonly taught languages, but also for language and cultural teaching as a whole,” Shi said.

Allegheny College offers a minor in Chinese that is designed to engage students in Chinese-speaking culture from day one and to improve their language skills until graduation and beyond. In addition, Allegheny College offers a minor in Chinese Studies, an interdisciplinary program focusing on the history, politics and culture of China.

The grant will also enable Allegheny College to convene a conference to collect feedback on experiments and innovations made in classrooms and revise them accordingly. The project will culminate with a white paper and a website detailing if, why and how the curriculum will achieve its goals.

The NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grants program supports innovative, experimental, and/or computationally challenging digital projects at different stages of their lifecycles, from early start-up phases through implementation and sustainability.  Experimentation, reuse, and extensibility are valued in this program, leading to work that can scale to enhance scholarly research, teaching, and public programming in the humanities. The program also supports scholarship that examines the history, criticism, and philosophy of digital culture or technology and its impact on society.


Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

The National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Allegheny College, founded in 1815, is one of the nation’s oldest and most innovative four-year colleges where multidisciplinary learning breaks the conventional mold. It is one of the few colleges in the United States with a unique requirement to choose both a major and minor for graduation, to provide students with a cross-disciplinary path in the sciences and humanities for educational depth and intellectual growth. Located in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Allegheny College is one of 40 colleges featured in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives.” In its 2021 rankings, U.S. News & World Report recognized Allegheny College in its Top 20 Best in Undergraduate Teaching and Top 30 Most Innovative National Liberal Arts Colleges.