Oct. 3, 2011 by Bill Holder
Wesleyan has received a $2 million challenge grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help endow the Center for the Humanities. The grant requires Wesleyan to raise an additional $4 million in endowment funds over the next four years.
“This grant is a welcome acknowledgement of the Center’s leadership role in keeping humanities scholarship at the center of the most interesting trends in American intellectual life,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “Scores of Humanities Centers across the country have adopted the Wesleyan model, and I am deeply grateful to the Mellon Foundation for affirming the importance of this work.”
The Center — since the establishment in 1958 of its forerunner, the Center for Advanced Studies — has a distinguished record of promoting interdisciplinary scholarship. Now, the Center will build on its tradition by refocusing its mission to support projects that not only advance scholarship but also connect research to pedagogy, and pedagogy to particular problems of culture and society. The Center will be an incubator for new courses as well as research, and it will be a resource for connecting humanities research to public life.
The Center will focus on collaborative projects that permit the sustained investigation of complex problems beyond the reach of a single scholar. For example, a project at the Center, “Fact and Artifact,” is producing work that will contribute to debates about the grounds for evidence, including those in science, law, history, religion, and health.
The Center’s Director, Jill Morawski, noted that “the Mellon Foundation’s generous support of significant, innovative humanities projects affords a timely opportunity for humanities scholars to engage with and enhance research enterprises in other fields.”
Projects at the Center will be generated by Wesleyan faculty who will work together there with visiting scholars, postdoctoral fellows, and Wesleyan undergraduates. Strong efforts will be made to connect the humanities to the sciences and social sciences, in particular through collaborations with Wesleyan’s College of Social Studies, the College of Letters, the Science in Society Program, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, and a newly created curricular program, the Certificate in Social, Cultural and Critical Theory.
In addition, the Center plans to expand its engagement with scholars and humanities-related organizations outside of Wesleyan, with the goal of increasing the visibility and impact of humanities scholarship on public life.
For more information about the Center for the Humanities, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/chum/.