University consortium receives $ 5 million to expand Latin American humanities studies and scholarship

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A consortium of colleges including the University of Houston received $ 5 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to expand Latin American humanities studies and prepare researchers and academics for faculty positions.

UH President Renu Khator said the donation would play a key role in creating pathways for UH Latino students who are leading and helping humanities and Hispanic studies initiatives across the country. to become teachers and leaders in the field.

The foundation, took into consideration one of the largest donor organizations for the arts and humanities, awarded the three-year multi-million dollar award to the consortium’s lead institution, the University of Illinois at Chicago, to support its initiative “Crossing Latinidades: Emerging Scholars and New Comparative Directions”. The grant is shared by the 16 consortium institutions that are federally designated as Hispanic research universities and service institutions by the US Department of Education.

Other institutions in the consortium include the City University of New York; University of Arizona; University of California, Irvine; University of California, Riverside; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of California, Santa Cruz; Florida International University; University of Central Florida; University of New Mexico; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; University of North Texas; Texas University of Technology; University of Texas, Arlington and UT-El Paso.

The consortium will first create an annual summer institute on Latin American studies and then expand into other fields, including science, technology, education and mathematics. At the summer institute, academics will learn Latin American methodologies and theories and receive mentorship to form the prospectus or summary of their theses. Nearly 100 students – two from each institution – will attend the institute each year, according to a statement.

The consortium also created out-of-the-box professional networks and pathways for Latino students and faculty across institutions, which could help leverage their respective programs, according to Mark Clarke, vice-president. UH associate president for faculty development and faculty affairs.

Collaboration within the humanities is rare as academics work on solo projects like manuscript writing, which can cause some students or faculty to feel lonely or isolated, said María Elena Soliño, program chair at Hispanic Studies from UH. Latino academics, who are often under-represented in their respective departments, can feel even more disconnected, she said. The creation of cohorts by the initiative is therefore “extremely necessary”.

The consortium institutions want to increase the number of under-represented academics within their faculties. In addition to the network, the consortium will build a web portal where academics and students can view shared documents and learn what other Latino academics are working on, Soliño said.

“It will strengthen the programs and views that the university already has and make them much stronger, especially for Latinos,” she said.

UH has launched several programs to expand Latin American Humanities scholarships, including its American Latin American Humanities program and its Mellon Research Fellowship program for undergraduates, both of which are funded by grants. of the Mellon Foundation. UH is also home to the Center for Mexican American Studies, which features visiting scholars, graduate scholarships, and faculty affiliate programs, and is the foundation of Arte Público Press, the publisher of contemporary literature and retrieved from Hispanic American authors.

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