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For Immediate Release
October 26, 2009

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Nicholas Mascari

NEH Awards Professor "Enduring Questions" Grant

New Spring Semester Course will “Confront Death”

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Brockport, NY – Looking for answers to life's persistent questions? What is life, death happiness, good, and evil? Thanks to a $25,000 grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), students at the College at Brockport will have an opportunity to better understand one of those topics.

Austin Busch, PhD, assistant professor of English at the College, is one of 20 recipients nationwide of a NEH “Enduring Questions Grant” supporting the design, development and assessment of a new undergraduate interdisciplinary course exploring one of the fundamental questions addressed by the humanities.

Students will study how humanity has responded to basic questions of mortality. Drawing on readings from a variety of historical periods and cultural traditions, the course will offer perspectives from philosophy, religious studies, literature, and biomedical ethics to explore questions such as “what is death?”; “how do people come to terms with the deaths of loved ones?”; and “is it reasonable to expect an afterlife?”

“One goal of this course is to draw on the rich history of human response to death in order to help students develop intellectual strategies for confronting its inevitability,” notes Busch. “I want students to develop tools to formulate their own philosophies of mortality.”

“Winning this award is testimony to Dr. Busch’s scholarly credentials and his innovative approaches to teaching,” notes J. Roger Kurtz, PhD, chair of the English department. “This is a wonderful way to enrich the curriculum for Brockport students.”

The grant award will fund course development research, field trips and guest speaker fees for two semesters. If course enrollments are sufficient, administrators expect the course to become a permanent part of the curriculum.

About Professor Busch
A member of The College at Brockport faculty since 2005, Busch specializes in the field of early world literatures. He holds a double PhD from Indiana University, in comparative literature and classical studies. An expert in New Testament and Roman imperial literature, Busch has a working knowledge of the Greek, Latin, and Coptic languages, and at Brockport he teaches courses on classical and biblical literature. He also is completing a long-term project as co-editor of the forthcoming Norton Critical Edition of the New Testament and Apocrypha.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities (
The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.


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