UI System arts & humanities initiative supports 10 new projects

By Payal Rathore, Staff Writer

The University of Illinois System has funded 10 new projects as part of the Presidential Initiative: Expanding the Impact of the Arts and the Humanities.

According to the website, the second round of funding will provide $1.54 million to support the projects on varied topics including an effort to break down barriers between African studies and African American studies, a project dedicated to increasing knowledge of the state’s rivers and a plan to transform art education with new ideas about disability.

The Presidential Initiative: Expanding the Impact of the Arts and the Humanities was launched by President Tim Killeen to celebrate the arts and humanities at the University, University of Illinois Chicago and University of Illinois Springfield.

“The arts and humanities play a critical role in our lives and in envisioning solutions to fundamental problems that we face as a society,” said Sarah M. Zehr, assistant vice president for Academic Initiatives and Policies in an email. “However, researchers in the arts and humanities typically face challenges in identifying funding to support their work.”

Zehr added that the purpose of this initiative is to provide significant financial support for several projects focusing on the arts and humanities.

The initiative funded 10 projects out of 22 proposals. Awards ranged from $85,000 to $175,000.

“Projects were selected based on several criteria, including but not limited to: their impact on the U of I System and beyond, their interdisciplinary nature, the opportunity for developing new community partnerships, their involvement of multiple stakeholders both within and outside the system,” Zehr said in an email. 

The projects were each unique, but they all engaged the public as well as students, faculty and other members of the system community.

[email protected]” is one such example, which intends to create a hub for intercultural studies across the University of Illinois System and offer an undergraduate certificate. Using a humanities-centered approach, the initiative focuses on U.S. minority populations and relationships between cultures. Graduate students will also have opportunities to participate in developing courses, workshops and modules.

Another project titled “Cripping the Arts” will enable faculty, students and community members with access to educational resources for people with disabilities at the University and UIC. Students will be involved in each stage of the project, from the community launch and exhibition to the development of community partnerships to redesigning spaces with new ideas about disability.

[email protected]