UIC joins ‘Humanities Without Walls’

The UIC Institute for the Humanities is part of a new 15-member consortium of humanities institutes backed by a two-year, $3 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The group, “Humanities Without Walls,” will create new opportunities for collaborative research, teaching and scholarship.

The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities on the Urbana-Champaign campus is the project’s lead investigator. Others in the group include Committee on Institutional Cooperation institutions Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin and the University of Chicago, plus Notre Dame.

The Chicago Humanities Festival and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Urbana are project partners.

“The consortium highlights the central role the humanities play in the university and in civic life,” said Susan Levine, director of the Institute for the Humanities.

“Focusing on training future humanities scholars and on the ‘Global Midwest,’ the Mellon initiative provides an unprecedented opportunity to highlight UIC’s urban mission and diverse student body,” said Levine, professor of history.

“We look forward to working with the UIC community and with our partners in the consortium to develop cutting edge research and innovative projects.”

The Mellon grant will support the consortium’s launch of two initiatives: summer workshops for predoctoral students who plan alternatives to academic careers, and cross-institutional teams of faculty and graduate students doing Midwest-specific research with a global perspective.

In the project’s first year, the Institute for the Humanities will offer $60,000 in seed grants, half from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, for digital humanities projects, oral histories and community-based research, archival projects, museum exhibitions and similar work. The first round of funding will be announced later this month.

In the second year, the Mellon Foundation will provide $750,000 for research and public humanities projects by two or more consortium members.

In 2015 and 2016, UIC graduate students will be eligible for two Alternative Academic Career Summer Workshops for Pre-doctoral Students in the Humanities.

Students selected for the program will work with leaders involved in public humanities projects, university presses and academic associations, the digital humanities and government and non-government organizations.

“This initiative provides a framework for cross-institutional collaboration on a scale that is truly unusual,” said Astrida Orle Tantillo, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Given the world-class humanities scholars at UIC and the other consortium institutions, there is little doubt that the interactions it fosters will lead to groundbreaking research.”