About Bringing Theory to Practice


Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) is an independent Project established in 2003 in partnership with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). The project was co-founded by Sally Engelhard Pingree, (President of the S. Engelhard Center), and Donald W. Harward (President Emeritus, Bates College, and Senior Scholar, AAC&U). Harward served as BTtoP's Director from 2003 - Summer 2018, and was succeeded by David Scobey. On July 1, 2020, BTtoP entered into a partnership with Elon University in North Carolina.


BTtoP’s mission is grounded in three commitments. We believe that undergraduate education should be holistic and transformative, nurturing active and integrative learning, personal well-being, preparation for meaningful work, and democratic citizenship. We believe that “educating the whole student” must include students of all backgrounds, interests, and educational settings. And we believe that the first two commitments require significant change in higher education. BTtoP works to advance this mission through innovative practice, research, advocacy, and institutional change.


For 15 years, Bringing Theory to Practice has given grants, held convenings, and produced publications in support of these goals. We’ve funded more than 550 projects at 359 institutions. The result has been a wealth of innovative practice and research distributed throughout our network. 

We've funded over 550 campus projects at over 350 institutions across North America. We've released over 10 RFPS; these have ranged in theme, including focuses on civic engagement, student well-being, campus dialogues, research & interventions, amplifying & missionizing BTtoP's work, and multi-institutional collaboration. Grant amounts varied, from $1,000 for small seminars that begin conversations with representative campus and community constituencies about the mission of the institutions, to $10,000 for research and programmatic initiatives, to $100,000 for institutional and cultural transformation. Including required institutional matching funds, over $11 million dollars have been dedicated to campus projects initiated through BTtoP. For more information, visit our Grants page.

Community Building
Our theory of change rests on the idea that widespread transformation happens through community; as such, we hope not only to be the hub of our work, but to support sustainable communities of courage who co-create initiatives, share resources, learn from each other, and foster a space of radical innovation and courage. We've started our community building work through opening our communications; we invite partners, friends, and colleagues across the higher education landscape to utilize our network to share their news and work. We are also launching what we're calling "Collaboratories" -- projects pursued by a group of institutions, working collectively to brainstorm, develop, test, and disseminate practices that advance the educational purposes to which BTtoP is committed. While each collaboratory’s duration and scale will vary, they will typically span two academic years and comprise eight to fifteen institutions from diverse sectors. Each partner institution will work on the project theme in ways specific and beneficial to its campus, but the larger purpose of the projects is collective innovation and systemic change.

BTtoP has offered dozens of conferences, workshops, and other events related to the research and work we support on campuses, including our most recent national conference, The Whole Student: Intersectionality and Well-Being. We also regularly participate in conferences offered by our partners and colleagues, including AAC&Us Annual Meeting, where we host panels and our own Annual BTtoP Reception. The goal of our events is to provide our colleagues an opportunity to get away from campus to be amongst their national (and occasionally international) peers—to learn, collaborate, and innovate. For more information, visit our Events page.

Publications & Resources
BTtoP is dedicated to providing resources for our community and lifting the voices of scholars working to actualize our mission values. Thus far, we have published two major books, a series of monographs, a tri-annual newsletter, a case studies report, and additional resources. For more information, visit our Publications page. 


Our Team