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Mellon Graduate Program in Community-Engaged Scholarship

The Mellon Graduate Program in Community-Engaged Scholarship is an initiative of Tulane’s Office of the Provost and School of Liberal Arts. The program was launched in 2017 in conjunction with a 1.5-million-dollar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, following three years of pilot graduate programs in community engagement at Tulane.

Through the “Transforming Graduate Education through Engaging the Community” grant, Tulane is building on its strength as a campus rich in community-engaged faculty from a wide range of departments as well as its strength as an institution with over six hundred established community partnerships in New Orleans and globally. The program offers graduate students in the humanities a distinctive educational experience that allows them to connect their disciplines to new communities and to work with those communities to develop cutting-edge, civically informed, ethically grounded, community-engaged scholarship.

Program Description:

The Mellon Graduate Program is an interdisciplinary graduate certificate program in community-engaged scholarship that brings together graduate students in the humanities, community partners, and faculty for a multifaceted two-year cohort experience.

Each year a dozen Mellon Graduate Fellows are selected from incoming and current graduate students in humanities programs at Tulane University. Those graduate students are joined by four faculty members and four community partners who work with them as mentors and co-educators for two years. The Mellon Graduate Fellows, Mellon Community Fellows, and Mellon Faculty Fellows who make up the cohort meet to discuss approaches to community-engaged scholarship and provide support to graduate fellows as they develop a project.

The program begins in the fall with a cohort retreat and a series of events that bring fellows together to learn about the resources in New Orleans and at Tulane. During the following two semesters, two one-credit courses introduce Mellon Graduate Fellows to theories, methods, and examples of community-engaged scholarship. These courses are designed to be rigorous but not onerous – they are set up to allow graduate students to take them in addition to their regular course load without slowing progress toward their graduate degrees.

In addition to these one-hour courses, Mellon Graduate Fellows pursue their own projects in community-engaged scholarship. These projects should be “collaboratively-designed and result in products that advance new knowledge, enrich civic life, or address a pressing social issue.” Graduate Fellows are provided a stipend and budget for their projects that includes compensation for community partners, additional mentors, travel, and supplies.

Projects will include some dimension of public scholarship, which might include exhibitions, plays or performances, documentaries, research reports, grant proposals, publications, course syllabi, advocacy materials, community publications or events, community archives, etc. During the final semester of the two-year certificate program, graduate fellows work with their cohort to reflect upon, evaluate, and develop next steps for their projects as part of a third one-hour course which culminates in the production of a portfolio.

2017-2019 Mellon Graduate Fellows:

Taofeeq Adebayo, Linguistics

Genesis Calderon, Linguistics

Kirsty Escalante, Anthropology

April Goltz, Music

Chris Givens, Theater

Theo Hilton, Anthropology

Arianna King, City, Culture, and Community

Sarah Kington, City, Culture, and Community

Ana María López Caldwell, Latin American Studies

Sedrick Miles, Latin American Studies

Jennifer Miller Scarnato, City, Culture, and Community

Caleb Smith, History

“Publicly engaged academic work refers to scholarly or creative activity integral to a faculty member’s [or graduate student’s] academic area. It encompasses different forms of making knowledge about, for, and with diverse publics and communities. Through a coherent, purposeful sequence of activities it contributes to the public good and yields artifacts of public and intellectual value.” – Imagining America