Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards grant to humanities program

By Elyssa Kaufman

The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities was awarded a $2,050,000 grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund new fellowship programs in the areas of bio-humanities, environmental humanities and legal humanities. 

“The grant will help us create really exciting research groups to develop all kinds of scholarly activities in the three areas listed in the grant,” said Illinois Program for Research in Humanities Director Dianne Harris. “It will also involve undergraduates who will be able to do research working together with graduate students and post-doctorates. This, all together, will create undergraduate certificate programs in those areas of humanities.” 

Harris said the first research group will launch in 2016 and will work for two years until the next group launches in 2018. The program was invited by the Mellon Foundation to apply for the grant and worked closely with the program officer. The program has previously received several grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, including a post-doctorate fellowship grant. 

Janelle Weatherford, director of Foundation Relations, assists faculty and administrators with their approach to the Mellon Foundation in support of humanities and art-related initiatives. Weatherford said the Mellon Foundation is one of the country’s largest private supporters of arts and humanities at higher education institutions. They also support performing arts organizations and art museums. 

Nancy Castro, associate director for The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, said various people will participate in the new fellowship programs. The research group will consist of a faculty fellow, who will serve as a group leader, as well as two external post-doctoral fellows and four graduate students. People with a Ph.D. that also fit the necessary criteria in the subject area can apply. In addition, three undergraduate interns per year will participate in this group. 

“The hope is that the faculty fellow will cast a broad net for other scholars for working in these areas on campus,” Castro said. “This is a great hub for promoting intergenerational cross-pollination in these subjects and for bringing people who are thinking about these issues along all different stages in life or scholarly path.”

One main benefit of the new fellowship program is the curriculum development at the University. Castro said a faculty member and the two post-doctorate fellows will teach courses in the second year, creating larger opportunites for undergraduates to take courses. 

In addition, Castro said the program benefits many graduate students who do a lot of work and are not always financially supported.

“Its an enormous pleasure that due to the support of the Mellon Foundation we can provide these robust opportunities for our graduate students,” Castro said. 

Elyssa can be reached at [email protected]