Mellon-funded Research to Explore the Global Midwest

Rachel Havrelock

Rachel Havrelock, one of the 2014 Mellon researchers. Photo by Micki Leventhal

As part of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded fifteen-member consortium Humanities Without Walls, the UIC Institute for the Humanities has awarded grants to four LAS faculty research projects exploring “The Global Midwest.”

The Mellon Foundation provided $3 million in funding over two years to consortium members to stimulate collaborative research that rethinks and reveals the American Midwest as a key site—both past and present—in shaping global economies, cultures, and public policies. The initiative aims to demonstrate how the humanities address the grand challenges of our time.

During the second year the Mellon Foundation will focus on Global Midwest projects that involve two or more members of the consortium, funding innovative research and public humanities projects. The deadline for the second round of grant applications is October 30, 2014. RFP materials can be found here.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has provided additional seed funding for LAS-based Global Midwest research projects. “This initiative provides a framework for cross-institutional research on a scale that is truly unusual,” said LAS Dean Astrida Orle Tantillo. “Given the world-class humanities scholars at UIC and the other consortium institutions, there is little doubt that the interactions it fosters will lead to groundbreaking research. The College is delighted to support this innovative program and anxious to see the fruits it will yield.” 

The Humanities Institute spring 2014 Global Midwest research projects awards went to: Christopher Boyer, Departments of History and Latin American and Latino Studies, for “Cultivating Landscapes: Midwestern Farming and Mexican Cornfields”; Jennifer Brier, Departments of History and Gender and Women’s Studies and Elena Gutierrez, GWS and LALS, for “Collaborative Collection of Chicago’s Community Histories”; Rachel Havrelock, Department of English, for “The Great Lakes: Global Water and International Boundaries”; and Amalia Pallares, LALS and Department of Political Science, for “Trans-displacements: Migration, Gentrification and Citizenship.”

“This was a very competitive award process and we had many more proposals than we could fund,” noted Susan Levine, director of the UIC Institute for the Humanities. “This initiative not only reflects the exciting humanities research being done at UIC, it also demonstrates how the humanities can speak to the major questions and problems of our day.”

A second initiative of the Humanities Without Walls consortium is the development of workshops for pre-doctoral students in the humanities who intend to pursue alternatives to academic careers. Workshops will take place during summer 2015 and 2016 and will be developed and managed by the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Centered at the Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the consortium includes Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, and Purdue Universities and the Universities of Illinois, Chicago, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin-Madison, and Notre Dame. The Chicago Humanities Festival and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at UIUC also partner with the project.