Davidson College embarked on a bold plan to reimagine its humanities curriculum through the lens of three abiding and urgent concerns: justice, equality, and community. These concerns intersect with other considerations that deeply inform contemporary humanities scholarship, such as gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and disability. The ultimate goal of this grant was to foster humanistic inquiry in and through public discourse, global problem-solving, engaged citizenship,and democratic leadership.
History of the Grant
Davidson College has worked with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for many years, most recently launching the three year (2017 – 2020), campus-wide Justice, Equality, Community (JEC) Grant totaling $1.2 million.
Over the course of those three years, the grant restructured curricular development, enabling more thoughtful, prolonged collaboration across fields, thus fostering openness and innovative ideas. As such, Davidson College facilitated the creation of comparative courses specifically focused on the themes of “justice, equality, and community” that also incorporate student-driven research projects.
In addition to these courses, the grant also supported further engagement with an expansion of our archival collections in ways that inform scholarly work, inspire the public, and that are crucial for envisioning a just, shared future in our communities. Through residencies for practitioners, students and faculty connected with ongoing public debates where humanistic approaches are valuable.
The Four Main Categories of the Grant
This grant category funded collaborations and research projects in the humanities focused on justice, equality, and community that catalyzed students’ studies in ways that supported transformative work already happening in partner organizations. Such projects received guidance through and with Davidson’s Center for Civic Engagement and involved reciprocal partnerships with community organizations like the Levine Museum of the New South, Johnson C. Smith University, and the Ada Jenkins Center.
The steering committee awarded grants to humanities faculty that supported: a) acquiring new research or pedagogical skills that informed new or revised courses centered on justice, equality and community; b) the creation of collaborative JEC courses between faculty from different fields; and d) collaborations with local higher education institutions that enhanced or resulted in new JEC-related courses.
The committee focused on courses and projects that incorporated undergraduate research, project-based learning, the creation of new archival resources, the continued innovation of Davidson Domains, or offered opportunities for faculty collaboration, or faculty-staff collaboration.
Through this portion of the grant, individuals working professionally on issues related to justice, equality, and community took residency at Davidson for periods varying between one week and an entire semester. Examples of practitioners included: a poet, a social justice activist, and a visual artist.
The terms and obligations of successful residencies varied, but all sought to create connections between campus and the broader community with the ultimate goal of transforming the student experience of the humanities, both within and outside of the curricula.
The grant tasked the Davidson College Archives with developing and promoting, in collaboration with partners, digitized archival resources related to and supporting research and teaching in justice, equality, and community beginning with the issue of race and religion at Davidson and in our region.
Working with local partners like DigitalNC and H.F. Group, the Archives identified and digitized thousands of manuscript pages, archival records, and oral histories. These materials are available through Davidson College’s research guides – a centralized platform familiar to our students and faculty, while also being accessible to the general public.
Steering Committee Members Over the Course of the Grant
Ph.D., M.A. Indiana University
Associate Dean of Students and Director of Civic Engagement
Ph.D. Syracuse University
Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania
College Archivist and Records Management Coordinator
M.A. University of MS
MLIS University of British Columbia
Ph.D., Yale University
Ph.D., M.A. University of California, Los Angeles
Ph.D. Emory University
Ph.D. Columbia University
Ph.D. The Graduate Center of the City University of New York
Justice, Equality, Community Project Archivist
M.A. Appalachian State University