College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > About > Initiatives > Social Transformation Research Collaborative > News > LAS humanities collaborative receives nearly $2 million from the Mellon Foundation

LAS humanities collaborative receives nearly $2 million from the Mellon Foundation

Saint Vincent de Paul Circle
(DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences a grant for nearly $2 million to support a research collaborative centered on applying the humanities to effecting social change and building new structures of anti-violence and anti-racism. The grant continues DePaul’s partnership with the Foundation, which also awarded a $750,000 grant to the university in 2019 to create the HumanitiesX Collaborative.

The Social Transformation Research Collaborative was designed by the chairs and directors of the Center for Black Disapora, the Center for Latino Research, the African and Black Diaspora Department, the Latin American and Latino Studies Department, the Global Asian Studies Minor and the Critical Ethnic Studies Program. These LAS programs all focus on the historical trajectories, legacies and cultures of people of color. The collaborative's work begins this month and will run through December 2024. In its inaugural year, it will focus its activities around the theme of “influencers for racial and social justice.”

“Faculty and students of color have labored for decades. They have given their precious time because they believe in advocating for racial justice. Oftentimes, they do this work quietly, without compensation, and without accolades,” says Julie Moody-Freeman, associate professor of African and Black Diaspora Studies, affiliated faculty with Critical Ethnic Studies, director of the Center for Black Diaspora, and co-lead on the collaborative. “This collaborative will address this by providing an infrastructure that will allow students’ and faculty’s intellectual and humanitarian activities to intersect.”

Funding from the Mellon Foundation will allow the Social Transformation Research Collaborative to:

  • Provide research fellowships in the humanities to students and faculty working in African and Black Diaspora Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Global Asian Studies, and Critical Ethnic Studies.
  • Establish a weeklong credit-bearing summer institute for incoming students — both freshmen and transfers — to learn about the collaborative’s annual theme with faculty, alumni, current students and peers.
  • Sponsor an annual conference focused on the humanities as a source of justice and healing for communities historically shaped by, and continuously facing, racism, violence and dispossession.
  • Build a public-facing repository of new scholarship, research and creative work that illuminates cultural resiliency, restoration, anti-violence and healing within communities of color.
  • Create two postdoctoral fellowships in comparative race and ethnicity studies to attract new scholars to DePaul.

“We want to build structures that will attract students of color to DePaul; build a greater sense of community for students and faculty; create opportunities for students to discover and pursue original research in the humanities; and find ways to give faculty working in these interdisciplinary fields paid leave to do their research,” says Bill Johnson González, associate professor of English, affiliated faculty member with Latin American and Latino Studies, director of the Center for Latino Research, and co-lead on the collaborative. “Our goals are vast, but we are confident that this collaborative will lead to lasting change at DePaul.”

The collaborative will champion the humanities at a time when they face extraordinary pressures in higher education and are sometimes misperceived as “luxuries” or “irrelevant,” says Margaret Storey, associate dean and professor of history, who shepherded the proposal on behalf of the faculty team and the college.

“We know that the opposite is true,” Storey says. “We urgently need humanistic inquiry into social inequity and racial injustice, and the Mellon Foundation’s transformative generosity allows us to invest in the humanities, our faculty and students at a critical time in higher education.”

Russell Dorn is a manager of news and integrated content for University Marketing and Communications.

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