Mellon Foundation Renews Support for Public Scholars Program

Mellon Public Scholar Loren Michael Mortimer mapped indigenous life on the U.S.-Canada border
Mellon Public Scholar Loren Michael Mortimer mapped indigenous life on the U.S.-Canada border.

The trustees of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have approved a grant of $600,000 to the UC Davis Humanities Institute to continue support for the UC Davis College of Letters and Science public scholars program for the next three years.

The Mellon Public Scholars program, started at UC Davis in 2015, introduces graduate students in the arts, humanities and social sciences to the intellectual and practical aspects of identifying, addressing and collaborating with members of the public through their scholarship. Each student designs and executes a community-engaged research project over the summer months.

"We are thrilled to have the Mellon Foundation’s continued support for our public scholars program, which has been recognized nationally as a model of innovative scholarly training and research,” said Jaimey Fisher, Humanities Institute director and a professor in the German and cinema and digital media programs. “Not only has it been of great value to our humanities, arts and social sciences graduate students, it has allowed us to build valuable partnerships, here in California and beyond, with organizations of local, national and even global impact."

So far about 30 students have taken part, with projects including studies of multiethnic publishing in the San Francisco Bay Area; exploring experimental performance among people of color in Oakland; creating digital storytelling and mapping in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento; developing social media tools for a peasant group in Guatemala; and studying the role of human behavior in energy conservation.