Sparking the Humanities

Mellon grant promotes innovation
August 1, 2011
 

A new endeavor aimed at changing the role of the humanities in the undergraduate curriculum is being funded with a five-year, $6 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

"The Humanities Writ Large" initiative will support visiting scholars and new faculty appointments, undergraduate research efforts, humanities labs, and interdisciplinary collaboration across departments and institutions.

The undertaking comes as American higher education continues to experience declining enrollments in the humanities. At the same time, public officials often bypass the humanities in highlighting science and technology as the key drivers to a competitive economy.

"This is as amazing and interesting a moment as any for the humanities, and we need to seize the opportunities before us with fresh eyes and think about many of the things that are making the world much closer," says the initiative's principal investigator, Srinivas Aravamudan, dean of the humanities and professor of English, literature, and Romance studies.

Previous Mellon Foundation grants to Duke have supported the Nasher Museum of Art, the Visual Studies Initiative, and the Duke Libraries.