Union College Templeton Institute founded to bridge the gap between engineering and liberal arts


Courtesy of Prof. Jennifer Currey.

Templeton Institute table inside Reamer as part of their “Risking Failure to Succeed” Campaign.

Avanti Khare, Sci-Tech Editor

The Templeton Institute was founded using a $51 million dollar gift from Rich and Mary Templeton ‘80 in February 2020, according to the Union College website. Interim director Prof. Jennifer Currey, associate professor of biomedical engineering, describes the core mission of the Templeton Institute as “[enabling] connections, experimentation, innovation, and discovery through integrative coursework, projects, and research.” She adds that the Templeton Institute was founded to create an environment that allows for collaboration within and across engineering, computer science, and traditional liberal arts disciplines. Currey highlights that the Templeton Institute is focused on igniting learning by bringing together diverse people, expertise, and perspectives to address contemporary and emerging challenges.

The specific themes that the Templeton Institute aims to address in its programming will change from year to year. This year, the organizing theme for the TI’s events has been “Risking Failure to Succeed”. The program that was piloted this year included an improv workshop, a series of pop-ups at the campus center for engagement with students, a special designation for abstracts related to the TI theme for the Steinmetz Symposium, sponsored the Maker-Faire and hosted a booth to engage with the local community, and will culminate in an Epic Fail Slam event for the campus community on May 24. Currey notes that when the TI is fully up and running, students can expect to see classes offered by the TI in a similar capacity to current classes and seminars sponsored by the Minerva Program. These courses will be catered towards allowing a diverse array of faculty from all disciplines to teach courses focused on discussing the TI’s themes with a diverse group of students through research and internship experiences.