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Mellon Foundation approves $2.8 million grant to UW–based humanities consortium

February 7, 2020

The Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, a global network of over 250 humanities centers, institutes, research libraries and related organizations, has received a grant of $2.8 million from the trustees of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to expand and diversify, nationally and internationally.

Sara Guyer, a University of Wisconsin–Madison professor of English and former director of the UW–Madison Center for the Humanities, is president of CHCI and principal investigator on the grant.

Studio portrait of Sara Guyer

Sara Guyer

The grant will enable CHCI to continue to fulfill its goals of greater diversity, inclusion and connection. With support from the Mellon Foundation, CHCI will expand the innovative collaborations of the Global Humanities Institutes — multiyear projects devoted to a research theme, method, practice or problem in the humanities that would benefit directly from an international, collaborative approach.

Each cohort includes a summer institute for emerging scholars as well as shared learning experiences to broaden the impact of each institute at a global scale. Previous topics include “Crises of Democracy” in Dubrovnik, Croatia and “Challenges of Translation” in Santiago, Chile. The next institute, “Migration, Logistics, and Unequal Citizens in Contemporary Global Context,” will take place in June 2020 in Taiwan with participants from eight countries.

To date, more than 60 scholars from over 20 universities spanning five continents have participated in the Global Humanities Institutes. A committee of humanities center and institute directors from UW–Madison, the University of Chicago, the University of Washington, Brown University, and Washington University in St. Louis, designed the new program.

The new grant also builds on CHCI’s Africa Humanities Initiative, a series of multidisciplinary, collaborative workshops bringing together senior and early-career scholars from the African continent. The first two workshops were held in Addis Ababa and Dakar in 2019, and two more are scheduled for Marrakesh and Maputo in 2021.

Mellon Foundation logo, consisting of the words "Andrew W. Mellon Foundation"

The grant allows CHCI to invest in collaborative interdisciplinary research undertaken by multigenerational and international teams of scholars. With this phase of support, CHCI will focus on increased access from two distinct angles.

The first is “Voices from the Global Humanities,” CHCI’s publicly focused project with the radio program “To the Best of Our Knowledge.” The podcast connects the outcomes of the Global Humanities Institutes with audiences in and beyond academia and continues a partnership between CHCI and public radio.

Second, CHCI will undertake projects and planning for its future, including support for the involvement  of  new  and  ongoing  humanities  centers  at  historically   black   colleges   and universities (HBCU), Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and urban and lower-income universities and colleges in the U.S. and around the globe.

“In addition to sustaining the Global Humanities Institutes, which model high-stakes research collaboration in the humanities, this grant will allow CHCI to focus on questions of diversity and inclusion,” Guyer says. “Drawing on extensive international experience, including substantial initiatives on the African continent, and an institutional home in the United States, CHCI is uniquely poised to address institutional inequality in the humanities from a global perspective.”

The grant will enable CHCI to continue to fulfill its goals of greater diversity, inclusion and connection.

UW–Madison has hosted CHCI since 2016, when Guyer began her term as president. Chancellor Rebecca Blank says the organization “has benefited from and built upon UW–Madison’s longstanding dual commitment to international impact and local relevance. CHCl’s programs have in turn furthered the university’s position as a leader in a new set of multilateral collaborations, demonstrating how research in the humanities affects our understanding of contemporary human experience.

“This grant will extend this mutually beneficial partnership by supporting CHCl’s cross-regional activities and the consortium’s efforts to more fully develop an inclusive network for research and scholarly exchange in the humanities,” Blank says.

Funding for CHCI’s New Models of Inclusive Collaboration began in January 2020 and concludes at the end of 2024.