Mellon Foundation $600,000 Grant Leads to New Approaches in the Humanities

July 1, 2014

Faculty and students will enjoy new opportunities in emerging fields, digital scholarship, new media, video, and residential and experiential learning


TACOMA, Wash.
– The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has made a $600,000 grant to University of Puget Sound to support new humanities and Honors program initiatives that will prepare students for the rapid changes of the digital age.

The four-year award will help Puget Sound expand and restructure interdisciplinary classes in the humanities, arts, culture, and technology. It also will create a forum for faculty members to address compelling questions that are at once timeless and deeply relevant to the 21st century.

The “Humanities and Culture in the Digital Age,” blueprint has been in preparation for several years, backed by an initial planning award from the Mellon Foundation. The current $600,000 grant is being made as part of Puget Sound’s $125 million One [of a Kind] comprehensive campaign, which supports students, faculty, and academic and residential life programs.

“These are exciting times for the humanities and for our students as we see the human experience so dynamically implicated with the forces of new technologies and the shifting face of global cultures,” said Puget Sound President Ronald R. Thomas. “We are immensely grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its support in extending our vision for academic excellence in the honors and humanitiesprograms, and for its confidence in our faculty’s demonstrated talent in developing innovative interdisciplinary curricula.”

Humanities and Culture in the Digital Age will give rise to new classes that intersect across disciplines; to faculty development; and to new ways of learning, such as “24-hour living and learning” in student cohorts, or experiential learning that may involve hands-on projects or community activities. Among other things, the project will:

  • Encourage tenure-line faculty in the humanities fields to create new interdisciplinary courses
  • Offer more students the opportunity to participate in the Honors and humanities programs
  • Construct a dynamic residential-learning experience for humanities students
  • Include the study of queer cultures as integral to the study of humanities
  • Develop classes and programs in film, video, and new media
  • Cultivate faculty expertise in digital humanities and digital scholarship
  • Offer experiential learning in media arts, digital humanities, and archive management

Work by faculty and administrators will begin this summer, with the aim of creating sustainable new programs by mid-2018 and setting in place an agenda for ongoing innovation.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been a generous supporter of Puget Sound, backing efforts such as internationalizing the curriculum for Environmental Policy and Decision Making; development of a Latina/o Studies program; connecting students’ academic and co-curricular lives through residential seminars; and providing junior faculty sabbaticals, which often result in curricular enhancements and new research.

Press photos of Puget Sound humanities students at work are available upon request.
Photos on page by Ross Mulhausen, University of Puget Sound

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