Mellon Foundation Awards $800K to Trinity for Arts, Humanities, and Digital Scholarship

Three-Year Grant to Create New Opportunities for Students, Advance Inclusive Excellence

Hartford, Connecticut, January 8, 2018 – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Trinity College $800,000 over three years to support four interrelated initiatives that will advance inclusive excellence in the arts, humanities, and digital scholarship.“This is a gratifying and energizing way to begin the new year,” said Trinity President Joanne Berger-Sweeney. “This support from the Mellon Foundation enables us to engage more of our students in humanities scholarship, with increased opportunities to integrate digital tools and community learning experiences. In concert with our new strategic plan for Trinity’s future, the initiatives being funded build on the traditional strengths of a Trinity liberal arts education and further our vision of Trinity as a first-choice destination for students, faculty, and staff,” said Berger-Sweeney.

The grant will support the humanities and adjacent disciplines in four key ways:

•    Public Humanities Collaborative

Trinity will develop a Public Humanities Collaborative, creating new opportunities for Trinity students to pursue deep research experiences in the arts and humanities, partnering with faculty mentors as well as humanities or cultural organizations. Each summer, a cohort of 16 undergraduate students will undertake collaborative or independent research projects or internship placements, producing academic works (such as journal articles or book chapters) and public works (such as interactive websites, community discussions, or performances). Preference will be given to students with demonstrated financial need, who often are unable to take advantage of summer research or experiential engagement opportunities. Funding for stipends and housing will remove barriers that otherwise discourage these students from participating in such opportunities. These arts and humanities research opportunities will naturally complement the first-year experience of students enrolled in the Community Action Gateway Program, as well as leverage the assets of Trinity’s Community Learning Initiative, Liberal Arts Action Lab, Digital Scholarship Studio, and Center for Educational Technology.

•    Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Arts and Humanities

Trinity, in collaboration with Connecticut College and Wesleyan University, will hold an annual one-day Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Arts and Humanities, to be hosted by each institution on a rotating basis. The symposium will provide a venue for students to engage with the broader humanities scholarly community, to present their work, and to explore career options consistent with the study of liberal arts in general and the arts and humanities in particular. The symposium will build on the CTW Consortium, an integrated library system through which Connecticut College, Trinity, and Wesleyan have partnered for 30 years.

•    Inclusive Pedagogy and Advising Program

The grant funds the exploration by Trinity faculty of inclusive pedagogy and advising—methods of teaching and advising that take into consideration the varied backgrounds, learning styles, and abilities of all students. The Inclusive Pedagogy and Advising Program will support faculty attendance at national advising conferences, the convening of faculty working groups on campus, travel to peer institutions, the hosting of guest scholars, and development of a “digital tool kit” for faculty based on recent scholarship on advising. The program will solicit proposals from academic departments and make awards that support inclusive teaching that will benefit all Trinity students.

•    Digital Scholarship Program

Undergirding all of the above initiatives is the development of skills and expertise of Trinity faculty and students in the use of digital tools and content to advance teaching, learning, and research. Funding will expand Trinity’s Digital Scholarship Lab, co-sponsoring workshops on topics such as digital storytelling, embedding digital skills into the curriculum, and digital scholarship in support of community partnerships, and creating additional opportunities for faculty and students to engage with digital scholarship. The grant also will help the college bring leading digital scholars to campus and will provide development grants to faculty to support research and course development.

“We have a tremendously talented faculty at Trinity, and I am excited about how the grant will support our faculty in their roles as they engage a new student generation,” said Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Tim Cresswell. “Our student body is richly diverse in culture, background, and preparedness as well as highly adaptive and digitally capable. The Mellon grant both recognizes and strengthens our ability to engage all of our students, and particularly those with demonstrated financial need, in the full liberal arts experience that Trinity has to offer.”

The Mellon Foundation has funded other major initiatives at Trinity. These include a $365,000 four-year grant in 2009 to establish Trinity’s Center for Teaching and Learning and a $3 million award in 2006 to help finance the launch of the college’s Center for Urban and Global Studies. 

Written by Kathy Andrews