A first for UHD!

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s mission is clear: “Through our grants, we seek to build equitable communities, enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can flourish.”

The Mellon Foundation recognized UHD for answering the call to empower equity and empower student success and equity with their proposal to create a Black Studies curriculum and program of study.

The College of Humanities & Social Sciences (CHSS) was among the Foundation’s grantees for the first 2022 open call for higher education, research and projects related to civic engagement and social justice, which explored three distinct categories of topics: civic engagement and voting rights, Race and Racialization in the United States and Social Justice and the Literary Imagination.

CHSS received a US$500,000 grant in the Race and Racialization category in the United States for Unpacking Contemporary and Historical Constructions of Race and Racialization: Developing a Program of Black Studies. According to CHSS’ proposal to the Foundation, “This project will develop and produce an edited interdisciplinary Black Studies collection focused on contemporary and historical constructions of race and racialization, and design a Black Studies curriculum and program of study based on this.” collective scientific research.”

Fellow recipients in this category included Northwestern University and Syracuse University. University of California at Los Angeles, Vanderbilt University.

Open to all accredited, not-for-profit, four-year liberal arts schools in the United States with more than 1,000 full-time students and multiple liberal arts programs, the call generated more than 280 submissions from 150 institutions. Established in 1969, the foundation — the largest supporter of the arts, culture, and humanities — recently awarded more than $12 million to 26 colleges and universities across the country, ranging in value from $250,000 to $500,000.

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“This scholarship will help launch a vibrant Black Studies program for students at our minority serving institution. Given the recent attacks on African American studies in the state of Florida, the timing of the announcement is perfect,” said Dr. Jonathan Chism, assistant professor of history and associate director of the UHD Center for Critical Race Studies.

He continued, “By awarding this grant, the Mellon Foundation affirms that Black Studies is not the enemy. Certainly, students will engage with figures that the establishment has viewed as radicals at various points in history, such as David Walker, Malcolm X, and Angela Davis. A curriculum in Black Studies equips students with the critical awareness they need to understand enduring social issues and the inspiration to create a diverse, just, and just America.”

“This is the first Mellon Foundation grant UHD has received,” said Dr. Wendy Burns-Ardolino, Dean of CHSS. “This is significant as it establishes UHD and the College of Humanities & Social Sciences as a premier innovation hub for the humanities and human skills-based talent development.”

She also congratulated the CHSS team that played a crucial role in developing the proposal: Dr. Vida Robertson (Principal Investigator), Associate Professor of English and Director of the Center for Critical Races Studies; dr Felicia Harris (co-principal investigator); dr Jonathan Chism; dr Paul Kintzele, Deputy Dean of CHSS; and dr Chuck Jackson, Professor of English.

“I am extremely excited that this grant will fund the development of an edited Black Studies collection, educational workshops, community engagement events, co-curricular programming, curriculum planning, and developmental programming over the next three years!” noted Burns-Ardolino . “The project promises to enhance student success in the humanities and social sciences by deepening our shared understanding of historical and contemporary constructions of race and racialization.”

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Chism concluded, “Consistent with our Institutional Compass, I believe that students who major or electively major in Black Studies in the program will develop an enhanced understanding of diversity, even among non-monolithic Blacks,” he said. “Because justice and justice are central themes in Black Studies, given the diverse forms of oppression that black people have experienced throughout American history, students can become more interested in and invested in social justice work and in careers that contribute to Further development of the ‘beloved congregation’, which is dedicated to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. introduced.”

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