Humanities Without Walls



About Humanities Without Walls

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $3,000,000 to the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) at the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign to fund the first two years of an extensive consortium of fifteen humanities institutes in the Midwest and beyond. By leveraging the strengths of multiple distinctive campuses, the initiative, titled “Humanities Without Walls,” aims to create new avenues for collaborative research, teaching, and the production of scholarship in the humanities, forging and sustaining areas of inquiry that cannot be created or maintained without cross-institutional cooperation.

The grant, led by IPRH Director and Principal Investigator Dianne Harris, will make possible two initiatives: One supports the development of summer workshops for pre-doctoral students in the humanities who intend to pursue careers outside the academy; A second initiative will fund cross-institutional teams of faculty and graduate students pursuing research that focuses on a grand challenge: “The Global Midwest.” The latter is intended to stimulate collaborative research that rethinks and reveals the Midwest as a key site—both now and in the past—in shaping global economies and cultures. The first pre-doctoral workshop will take place during the summer of 2015.

The consortium includes 13 of the institutions that belong to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC)—Indiana University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, Purdue University; and the Universities of Chicago, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin-Madison—plus the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The humanities centers at the 15 consortial institutions will serve as the hubs for collaboration. The Chicago Humanities Festival and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Illinois are also serving as key intellectual and infrastructural partners for the project

“This is an enormously exciting opportunity that will increase the impact and visibility of the humanities and arts at the University of Illinois and throughout the Midwest,” Harris said. “I have outstanding intellectual partners in this consortium. Working together, we developed a set of initiatives that will allow us to experiment at a very large scale, and to stimulate new research practices and the creation of new knowledge across some of the world’s most esteemed research universities. I am very grateful to the Mellon Foundation for making this possible.”  In addition to the substantial grant provided by the Mellon Foundation, the project also received support from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at Illinois.

“This initiative offers the chance to redefine the model for scholarship in the humanities for this century,” said Chancellor Phyllis Wise. “When you assemble fifteen great universities into a collaborative network where traditional disciplinary barriers and institutional differences are dissolved, you open up vast new opportunities for debate, discovery and world-changing ideas. Illinois is proud to lead this ambitious endeavor.”

According to Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Brian Ross,   "The Humanities Without Walls consortium will highlight the University of Illinois's strengths in the humanities, and it positions us as leaders in humanities research innovation. The College is excited to support the IPRH in this ambitious new project."

The Humanities Without Walls consortium will be the first of its kind to experiment at this large scale with cross-institutional collaboration.