University is one of 26 higher education institutions to participate in foundation’s inaugural Higher Learning open call
St. Catherine University is pleased to share that it has received part of the $12 million in funding offered by The Mellon Foundation to develop an interdisciplinary, intersectional curriculum that would promote anti-racism. The grant project will receive $497,000 from the foundation to use over three years.
“Given our clear history in social justice work, and our mission to educate women to lead and influence, this grant is a welcome boost to our existing efforts in continuous improvement,” said Kristen Lillvis, PhD, Mary Alice Muellerleile '60 Endowed Chair in English and Division Chair of Arts and Humanities at St. Catherine University.
The grants are the result of Mellon’s Higher Learning inaugural open call — announced in spring 2022 as a means of continuing to support inquiry into issues of vital social, cultural, and historical import. The open call invited proposals from institutions exploring three distinct topical categories — Civic Engagement and Voting Rights, Race and Racialization in the United States, and Social Justice and the Literary Imagination — in an effort to help illuminate the significance of voting rights controversies in US history from numerous humanities perspectives; demonstrate the complex import of race and racialization within US culture and society; and highlight the role of the literary imagination in making and remaking worlds and societies, past and present.
The open call was open to any accredited, non-profit, four-year liberal arts degree-granting institution in the nation with more than 1,000 full-time degree-seeking undergraduates and multiple humanities degree programs. According to Mellon, the call generated more than 280 submissions from 150 institutions. From the initial applicant pool, 26 institutions were selected to develop full proposals and receive funding.
This project, called Democratizing the Humanities, was submitted for the Race and Racialization category and focuses on developing an interdisciplinary, intersectional curriculum that would resist and combat racism. It was collaboratively written by Lillvis; Natalie Eschenbaum, PhD, professor of English and division chair of Arts and Humanities; Taiyon J Coleman, PhD, associate professor of English literature and women’s studies; and Rachel Neiwert, PhD, associate professor of history and Sister Mona Riley Endowed Professor in the Humanities. Co-convened humanities seminars will bring students together with community partners to investigate the racial histories of key humanities fields and fashion interdisciplinary projects that counter racism in humanistic scholarship and in institutional and local communities. Lillvis, Coleman, and Niewert will lead grant efforts on campus.
Other institutions that were awarded grants in the same category include Northwestern University, Seattle University, Syracuse University, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Houston - Downtown, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, University of Iowa, Vanderbilt University, and Whittier College.
“The Mellon Foundation program dovetails with St. Kate’s values, especially where academic excellence and social justice intersect,” said Lillvis. “With this grant, we have a new means through which we can evaluate curriculum and continue to refine instructional models to continue our collective process in dismantling institutional racism.”