The Mellon Graduate Program is an interdisciplinary graduate certificate program in community-engaged scholarship that brings together graduate students in the arts and humanities, community leaders, and faculty for a multifaceted two-year cohort experience. The program’s goal is to provide graduate students 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.
Each year a dozen Mellon Fellows are selected from incoming and current graduate students in humanities and arts programs. Those graduate students are joined by four faculty members and four community partners, who are also called Mellon Fellows and work with the graduate students as mentors and co-educators for two years.
The program begins in the fall with a cohort retreat and a series of events that bring fellows together to learn about 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 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 have a dimension of public scholarship, which might include exhibitions, plays, performances, documentaries, research reports, grant proposals, 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.
Mellon Fellows receive $5000 annual stipends (in addition to any departmental stipends they may be receiving).
“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