$1.344 Million for Humanities Curriculum
Funding Meets Growing Undergraduate Interest in Social Justice by Supporting Projects that Teach Humanities Skills and Methods Necessary to Transformational Change —
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced today that Austin College has been awarded $1.344 million as one of 12 liberal arts colleges to receive grants through its Humanities for All Times initiative. Austin College’s project, “Pathways to a Just Society,” will create collaborative new courses and provide internships for students’ deeper inquiry into issues of justice and equity.
“We are deeply honored and grateful to be selected as a grant recipient for this initiative to address societal challenges,” said Austin College President Steven P. O’Day, J.D., L.H.D. “The Mellon Foundation’s funding transforms our efforts to prepare students for work that improves our shared future.”
Dr. Greg Kinzer, Austin College dean of Humanities and professor of English, described the impact of the grant. “‘Pathways to a Just Society’ will open opportunities for all students to enhance their humanities education through innovative new course offerings, expanded access to the high-impact practice of undergraduate research and other applied learning opportunities, and faculty development appropriately supporting all,” he said.
“Austin College’s ‘Pathways to a Just Society’ is one integrated, highly collaborative project with multiple programming streams, connecting to and augmenting a number of our existing programs,” said Dr. Jeremy Posadas, associate professor of religious studies and project coordinator for the newly funded initiative. Posadas is joined in implementing “Pathways” throughout the curriculum by Dr. Jennifer Johnson-Cooper, associate professor of East Asian Studies and director of Professionalism and the Humanities (PATH) at the College, and Dr. Nathan Bigelow, professor and chair of Political Science and director of the College’s program in Nonprofit Organizations and Public Service.
The Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest funder of the arts, culture, and humanities. Humanities for All Times was created to support newly developed curricula that both instruct students in methods of humanities practice and clearly demonstrate those methods’ relevance to broader social justice pursuits. Of the 50 liberal arts colleges invited to submit proposals, 12 institutions were selected to receive grants totaling more than $16.1 million to be used over a three-year period. The funds will support the envisioned curricular projects and help students to see and experience the applicability of humanities in their real-world social justice objectives.
“The Humanities for All Times initiative underscores that it’s not only critical to show students that the humanities improve the quality of their everyday lives, but also that they are a crucial tool in efforts to bring about meaningful progressive change in the world,” said Phillip Brian Harper, Mellon Foundation Higher Learning Program Director. “We are thrilled to support this work at liberal arts colleges across the country— given their unequivocal commitment to humanities-based knowledge, and their close ties to the local communities in which such knowledge can be put to immediate productive use, we know that these schools are perfectly positioned to take on this important work.”
“Deep engagement with the humanities gives us insight into complex cultural landscapes across the centuries,” said Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “Mellon’s Humanities for All Times grants will support students and faculty at these 12 liberal arts colleges as they go about the good hard work of wrestling with ideas and knowledge that help us understand societal challenges and contribute to positive change.
A full list of the winning projects is below:
- Austin College (Sherman, TX): $1,344,000 for “Pathways to a Just Society,” which will generate over 30 new/re-designed courses and six community-engaged undergraduate research and internship experiences at the nexus of humanities learning, social justice, and career readiness.
- Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY): $1,490,000 for “Rethinking Place: Bard-on-Mahicantuck” proposes a Native American and Indigenous Studies approach to a revitalized American Studies curriculum and undertakes an expansive understanding of land acknowledgment that goes beyond addressing a single institution’s history in regards to Native peoples.
- Colorado College (Colorado Springs, CO): $1,024,000 for “Humanities for Our Times: From Epistemologies and Methodologies to Liberatory Creative Practices and Social Justice” which supports professional development for humanities faculty engaged with Colorado College’s new General Education curriculum and ongoing work toward becoming an antiracist institution.
- Fort Lewis College (Durango, CO): $1,500,000 for “All Our Nations Language Revitalization Hub” centering on Native concepts of animacy in language, empowering language learners and teachers, and teaching language revitalization program design.
- Kalamazoo College (Kalamazoo, MI): $1,297,000 for “Humanities Integrated Locational Learning (HILL),” a project rooted in Kalamazoo College’s commitment to experiential learning and social justice, and emphasizing the study of location and dislocation through the various disciplines that encompass the humanities.
- Knox College (Galesburg, IL): $1,234,000 for “Abolition for All Time: A Proposal for Civic Engagement and the Humanities,” a Humanities Lab to promote curricular innovation focusing on “abolition” as both a legacy of the College and a lens to understand its future.
- Macalester College (Saint Paul, MN): $1,497,000 for “Mississippi River Watershed: An Immersive Humanities Curriculum,” a project to develop innovative humanities-based educational activities that critically examine issues at the confluence of race, environment, and extraction.
- Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA): $1,499,000 for “Movement, Memory, and Justice: Building A Humanities Cultural Heritage Curriculum for Liberation,” an interdisciplinary initiative to create an African-centered, transdisciplinary curriculum that focuses on helping students understand injustices in the criminal justice system in America and assisting them in contributing to efforts that address such inequities.
- Occidental College (Los Angeles, CA): $1,500,000 for “Humanities for Just Communities,” a collaborative teaching and community-engaged initiative that will introduce incoming and first-year students to the problem-solving power of the humanities to advance health equity, migrant justice, and freedom struggles.
- Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, NY): $1,500,000 for “Sarah Lawrence Interdisciplinary Collaborative on the Environment.” Faculty from Sarah Lawrence and Bronx Community College will together rethink the humanities curriculum through the lens of climate and environmental justice and develop creative, collaborative pedagogies to address the climate crisis.
- Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY): $1,185,000 for “Africana Studies and the Humanities: Transnational Explorations in Social Justice.” The project will support Skidmore’s Black Studies Program and Racial Justice Teaching Challenge, advancing Africana studies and social justice through innovative course creation and teaching, undergraduate research, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
- Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT): $1,064,500 for “Carceral Connecticut Project” which through innovative curricula, engagement with archives, and public presentations (exhibitions, film, conference), explores – from interdisciplinary perspectives – the past and contemporary resonances of slavery, race, and industrialization in New England.