Universities today face a daunting challenge: how to serve new generations of increasingly diverse students whose ways of learning reflect our era’s rapid changes in technology and educational access.

A $5 million grant to UCLA from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will address this challenge head-on — creating core resources that will pave the way for a new era of teaching and learning. The Excellence in Pedagogy and Innovative Classrooms project, or EPIC, will enable UCLA to respond effectively to the emerging needs of today’s students, who represent an ever-increasing breadth of cultural and economic diversity, beginning with an overhaul of teaching and learning in the humanities.

The results of the project will influence the way other disciplines are taught, both at UCLA and across the country.

“As a place of teaching excellence in the humanities, UCLA is ideally positioned to lead this transformative effort,” said Scott Waugh, UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost. “The Mellon Foundation’s visionary grant will enable UCLA to serve as a model for public research universities committed to excellence in education.”

EPIC will not only examine students’ changing learning styles, but also train faculty and graduate students how to teach as effectively as possible. The faculty members leading the project will develop a certificate in teaching excellence for graduate students and will forge new collaborations with community colleges in an effort to better meet the needs of incoming transfer students.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for the humanities to play a central role in shaping higher education in the coming decades,” said David Schaberg, dean of the UCLA College humanities division. “Our students have the talent and determination to become leading global citizens, and we owe it to them to give them as rich and effective a cultural education as we possibly can.”

EPIC’s goal is to preserve the values and methods of humanities education, while also exploring new ways to help students see the practical and intangible values of humanistic study.

“We hope that this bold initiative will touch many faculty and students, and jump-start ongoing, robust discussions of pedagogy,” said Mariët Westermann, vice president of the Mellon Foundation. “UCLA’s strategy is well aligned with the foundation’s commitments to inclusive excellence and to innovation in humanities teaching.”