Haverford Receives $1.5M Mellon Foundation Grant to Activate the Humanities Across the Curriculum
The ambitious Together with Humanities initiative will be a series of co-taught courses and course clusters attuned to issues of languages and power while also feeding a wide range of student internships and experiences.
A $1.5 million grant, announced today by the Mellon Foundation as part of its competitive Humanities for All Times initiative, will catalyze Haverford College’s campus-wide effort to further activate the humanities in its classrooms, communities, and broader institutional work. This three-year grant will support Together with Humanities: Language, Community, and Power, an ambitious project that builds on the success of language and linguistics classes already deeply engaged at the intersection of the course content and broad questions of power, supporting and expanding these curricular offerings in conversation and collaboration with communities.
At its core, Together with Humanities reflects Haverford’s commitment to community-based curricula and a broad range of offerings in the humanities as set forth in Better Learning, Broader Impact – Haverford 2030, the College’s strategic plan. Laura McGrane, associate provost for strategic initiatives, emphasizes that Haverford is committed to “a rich and intersectional approach to the humanities, to the liberal arts across academic divisions, and to our partners beyond the campus. This vital work is envisioned by faculty to create new curricular and professional opportunities for students, while also addressing enrollment imbalances across the College.”
Beginning with the 2024-2025 academic year, the new initiative will institute a series of co-taught courses and course clusters attuned to issues of languages and power. Together, they will provide the College’s students, faculty, and staff with new avenues to explore liberatory humanities and justice-oriented pedagogy.
Many of the course clusters will be organized around a shared public humanities project that will be designed and created in partnership with external communities. Additionally, offerings supported by Together with Humanities will feed a wide range of student internships and summer participatory learning experiences that will reinforce the power of a socially engaged humanities education to shape dynamic career pathways in pursuit of a more just future.
On the significance of the grant at this time in Haverford’s history, Dr. Linda Strong-Leek, Haverford’s provost, notes that “this grant is an affirmation of the importance of working towards the shared goal of enhancing the humanities and supporting faculty as they engage in intentional and thoughtful ways with communities both locally and globally. The initiative also acknowledges the centrality of languages to bring people together across differences. I am so appreciative that the Mellon Foundation has chosen to support our faculty’s good work.”
Languages — and their intersection with questions of power — are the critical focus of Together with Humanities since successful justice-seeking academic practices are rarely monolingual endeavors. Linguistics and language courses at Haverford that address power imbalances and include projects with measurable social impact continue to see robust enrollment. To that end, Together with Humanities’ team of three principal and co-principal investigators is well positioned to lead this campus-wide undertaking. Beyond their individual programs, all of them are eager collaborators who regularly connect and work closely with their colleagues across disciplines through a wide array of initiatives.
Principal investigator and Associate Professor of Linguistics Brook Danielle Lillehaugen is a documentary linguist, who, for more than 20 years, has worked with community-driven language reclamation and documentation projects for endangered languages across the Americas. Bringing students into collaborative linguistic documentation and analysis, she says, better prepares them for social justice-related work by broadening their understanding of linguistic diversity. Lillehaugen is joined by co-principal investigators Associate Professor and Chair of Linguistics Jane Chandlee, a phonologist who explores theoretical questions surrounding human language capacity as a whole, and Associate Professor of Spanish Ana López-Sánchez. López-Sánchez leverages her scholarship and teaching to celebrate the power and possibility of multilingualism and multiliteracies.
“Language study has the potential for such impact, in and beyond language classrooms,” Lillehaugen says. “I’m particularly excited that this grant will allow us to connect language study with courses and disciplines across the campus. Imagine a course on the Indigenous Americas taught by an historian in a cluster with an Indigenous language course, or a (Dis)abilities Studies course paired with an ASL language course. This is part of the meaning of the word ‘together’ in Together with Humanities.”
In addition to the College’s curricular offerings, Together with Humanities will also engage Haverford College Libraries and the two centers that are focused on humanistic inquiry and community collaboration: the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship. Beyond campus, the initiative will allow Haverford to connect with global initiatives through the 2022-2032 UNESCO International Decade of Indigenous Language, within which Lillehaugen is a registered participant.
While the grant will span three years, the work will form the foundation of study that examines the effects of language integration on students’ enrollment in the humanities. Those findings will ultimately support the College in adapting its course structure for sustained collaborative pedagogy and provide evidence-based reasoning to grow and support the study of languages, linguistics, and their intersection with power at Haverford in the future. As those findings and their impact are made public, Haverford plans to share them with peer institutions exploring new pathways in the humanities.