UCSC humanities research institute to participate in Mellon Foundation grant

Image courtesy of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI).
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Tyrus Miller, Professor of Literature and Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies
Nathaniel Deutsch, Professor of History and Jewish Studies, and Director of the Institute for Humanities Research.

The Institute for Humanities Research (IHR) at UC Santa Cruz has been selected to participate in a $1.35 million grant awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), of which the IHR is a member.

The grant was awarded for the second phase of Integrating the Humanities across National Boundaries, an initiative designed to foster new forms of collaborative research and partnerships among the organization's international members via two pilot projects.

UC Santa Cruz’s IHR is one of four CHCI member centers and institutes that will lead the research through 2017 on one of the pilot projects, Integrative Graduate Humanities Research Education and Training (IGHERT). The project brings together faculty, doctoral students, and post-doctoral scholars in a series of structured collaborations to undertake jointly mentored, international research.

UC Santa Cruz will partner with the Center for 21st Century Studies at The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture at Justus Liebig University in Giessen; and the Humanities Research Centre at Australian National University, Canberra.

The principal investigators from the UC Santa Cruz campus are Tyrus Miller, Professor of Literature and Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, and Nathaniel Deutsch, Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Institute for Humanities Research.

This pilot project will focus on the theme of “indigeneity”: the identities, cultures, politics, and legal rights associated with native or aboriginal status. Indigeneity today is a rapidly evolving topic, as globalization, media technologies, ecological concerns, and new political movements have radically changed the definition of what it is to be “native.”

The project will engage graduate students in a series of collaborative training and research activities that draw on the international perspectives of the four partner institutions. In carrying out the pilot, the participants will test out and assess a new way of developing humanities graduate research and problem-solving skills that can be applied in multiple contexts and extended to multiple themes.

 “The IGHERT project represents an exciting opportunity for UC Santa Cruz doctoral students to conduct their research in an international, collaborative perspective,” said UCSC Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies Miller. “Our students will receive the mentorship of our network of faculty collaborators and the collegial cooperation of their peers from our partner universities.”

The IGHERT pilot project further aims to attune the participants to the larger public contexts in which expert knowledge in the humanities is meaningful and to equip them with the written and oral skills necessary to communicate with these public constituencies more effectively.

Students from Ph.D. programs in UC Santa Cruz’s Division of Humanities will be selected to participate in a series of themed meetings and workshops in Santa Cruz, Milwaukee, Canberra, and Giessen, as well as to receive on-going mentoring from both local and partner faculty participants over the period of the project.  In collaboration with the Division of Graduate Studies, the IGHERT will provide fellowship and project travel support for the student participants.

The second pilot project funded under the grant is the CHCI Medical Humanities Network Program. This project aims to further the development of medical humanities as a subject of study and will focus on the topic of aging. The six partnering humanities centers are the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University; Institute for the Arts and Humanities, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC); Centre for the Humanities and Health, King’s College London (KCL); Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, the University of the Witwatersrand (WiSER); Leslie Center for the Humanities, Dartmouth College; and the Research Institute for the Humanities, Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Two three-year projects (2013–2015) were funded in the first phase of the Integrating the Humanities across National Boundaries program. Humanities for the Environment involves five CHCI-member partners forming collaborative “observatories”—one each in North America, the Australia-Pacific region, and Europe—to research the role of the humanities in a period of planetary crisis and change. Five CHCI-member partners are also working on Religion, Secularism, and Political Belonging, which focuses on discovering new approaches to religious and cultural criticism and understanding.

Established in 1988, the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes is an international organization headquartered at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University. It is a network for the circulation of information, ideas, and best practices related to the programmatic and organizational dimensions of humanities centers and institutes.

CHCI is currently comprised of more than 180 member and affiliate organizations in 23 countries and 46 US states. CHCI members are engaged in a wide range of programs, including research support, public humanities programs, fellowship programs, and advocacy on issues of educational and cultural policy, digital humanities programs, partnerships with arts organizations, and the development and maintenance of research collections. Many CHCI members are powerful agents of growth, change, and transformative interdisciplinary research on their campuses and within their communities.

The Institute for Humanities Research at UC Santa Cruz is a laboratory for developing new visions of the humanities via faculty research projects, graduate and undergraduate education, and public programs. Established in 1999, the IHR has grown dramatically since its inception, and now serves as an umbrella for a multitude of research centers, collaborative research clusters, and multi-campus research projects. With these and other initiatives, the IHR serves as an incubator for new ideas and provides crucial support to faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates at every stage of the research process and in communicating this research to the wider public. As the designated humanities center of UC Santa Cruz, the IHR is part of the University of California systemwide Humanities Network.