2016-17 Mellon Public Scholars Program

Accepting applications now through Wednesday, January 4, 2017 by 5:00 p.m.

The UC Davis Humanities Institute invites applications from doctoral and MFA students in the arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences to join the 2016-2017 cohort of Mellon Public Scholars. This program introduces graduate students to the intellectual and practical aspects of identifying, addressing, and collaborating with members of a public through their scholarship. Ten successful graduate student applicants will participate in a quarter-long, two-credit seminar in spring 2017. Each student will work with a faculty mentor to develop a community-based research project and receive a $7,500 stipend to support the project over summer 2017.

Because this program is intended to acknowledge and draw on the community-engaged scholarship of our faculty, faculty mentorship is an integral part of the summer projects. Applicants do not need to have a mentor at the time of application. The Public ScholarsProgram encourages students to consider mentors outside of their department as a way to broaden their interdisciplinary network. The role of the faculty mentor includes: offering guidance as the student develops the community project, helping the student to develop individual goals for their project so that the experience can be integrated into their graduate training, and debriefing on outcomes of the project upon completion. Each faculty mentor will receive a $2,000 stipend.

The Public Scholars Program invites applications that address the university’s commitment to diversity. This may include: public service towards increasing equitable access in fields where women and minorities are underrepresented; research focusing on underserved populations or understanding inequalities related to race, gender, disability or LGBTQI issues; and applicants who offer perspectives of groups historically underrepresented in higher education.

New this year: Original Projects or Pre-established Projects with Community Partners

Applicants may choose to propose an original project (of their own) or be considered for one of four pre-established projects with community partners (listed below). Students may apply to either or both of these tracks. If applying to both, please submit a separate application for each. We ask that, if a student chooses to apply for an established project, she or he only apply for the one that best fits her or his interests and background. Please contact our program manager with questions rather than the host organizations directly.

Eligibility

We welcome doctoral and MFA students in the arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences at any stage in their graduate training. Among the criteria for selection is the proposed project’s relevance to the humanities and arts, areas of particular interest to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Anyone with an interest in public scholarship and community-engaged research is encouraged to apply, whether or not that interest is explicit in their dissertation research.

Application Materials

  • CV (2 pages max.): Please include contact information, academic department, relevant employment history, academic accomplishments, and academic advisor’s name.
  • Proposal Narrative (3 pages max., at least 11-point font): The narrative should address your interest in this program and your ability to plan and carry out an intellectually grounded, mutually beneficial arts- or humanities-based project with a community partner. Please discuss what role a faculty mentor might play in this effort. If you have discussed this project with a potential faculty mentor or community partner, please list them. If you are interested in working on one of the pre-established projects described below, outline your qualifications for that project. Each application should address your general suitability for the program and ability to carry out the project in question (please see criterion below for further guidelines).

Submission

To submit your proposal online, please go to http://dhi.ucdavis.edu/funding/ and complete the online application form. Proposals are due by 5 p.m. on January 4, 2017. Late submissions will not be considered. Fellows will be announced by early February. Please contact Program Manager Rachel Reeves (rlreeves@ucdavis.edu) with any questions.

Application Review

Please keep in mind the following criteria when developing your proposals.

Criteria for Pre-established Projects with Community Partners:

  • The impact and value of the applicant’s experience for the selected community partner, including personal, professional or academic backgrounds.
  • The applicant’s potential to execute community-engaged work, expressed as desire and/or track record. Examples: Volunteer work, internships, community organizing, and/or political activism.
  • The intellectual foundation of the application: its significance to humanities scholars and/or artists, general audiences, or both. Examples: Placing a project within a broader scholarly context such as environmental justice, gender studies, bioethics, and access to the arts.
  • The applicant’s potential to contribute to the university’s commitment to diversity (including service, research, and perspective). Please refer to the third paragraph in this call.

Criteria for Original Projects:

  • The impact and value of the applicant’s experience for a community partner, including personal, professional, or academic backgrounds.
  • The applicant’s potential to execute community-engaged work, expressed as desire and/or track record. Examples: Volunteer work, internships, community organizing, and/or political activism.
  • The intellectual foundation of the application: its significance to humanities scholars and/or artists, general audiences, or both. Examples: Placing a project within a broader scholarly context such as environmental justice, gender studies, bioethics, or access to the arts.
  • The feasibility and appropriateness of the proposed plan of work, including, when relevant, the soundness of the dissemination and access plans. Examples: A rough timeline for completion of the project. Plan for identifying and reaching intended audience.
  • The applicant’s potential to contribute to the university’s commitment to diversity (including service, research, and perspective). Please refer to the third paragraph in this call.

Review and Selection Process:

An advisory board of faculty will use the above criteria when evaluating applications. The advisory board will also consider factors in addition to the criteria above, such as the distribution of disciplines, project areas, and communities served. For pre-established projects, the community partner will choose from among finalists recommended by the advisory board.

Established Projects with Community Partners:

Community Partner: Yolo County Food Bank
Project Title: Hidden Hunger

The Mellon Public Scholar will design and implement a data collection method to assess the gaps in Yolo County’s emergency food system. The goal of this project is to identify populations and areas within the county not receiving/accessing food assistance resources. Additionally, this project will identify barriers that prevent food-insecure residents from accessing services (e.g., scheduling conflicts, transportation, stigma, lack of awareness).
Community Partner: California Arts Council
Project Title: Arts Program Evaluation

The CA Arts Council (CAC) is a state agency dedicated to advancing California through the arts and creativity. One of the primary ways that it serves the arts and culture field is through its eleven competitive grant programs. The CAC has a standard evaluation process for all of its grant programs, and invites a Mellon Scholar to dive deeply into an evaluation of one of its grant programs, based on expertise and interest of the scholar. Potential projects could focus on: CAC’s arts education program, a creative placemaking grant program, or CAC’s support for rural and underserved communities.
Community Partner: California Department of Education
Project Title: High School Ethnic Studies Resources

This September, the California Department of Education became the first statewide agency in the nation to start developing a model for a high school ethnic studies curriculum. This guide will offer a flexible framework on which districts can build meaningful, interdisciplinary courses relevant to their students’ experiences. The MellonPublic Scholar will join this effort by reviewing current high school and undergraduate course offerings in ethnic studies and identifying appropriate teaching resources. Strong candidates will be familiar with ethnic studies and curriculum development, and be adept at analyzing online resources. The CDE will help the Scholar develop a working familiarity with state statutes that govern the use of instructional materials in California’s public schools.
Community Partner: California Humanities
Project Title: Humanities Field Mapping

California Humanities is an independent non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. To illustrate the rich landscape of humanities organizations and their work throughout the state, California Humanities seeks to elaborate on efforts to “map” existing networks of humanities-related organizations. The PublicScholar will define and identify humanities hubs and then map the networks among these organizations in a publicly accessible, easily maintained form. This project will involve planning, review of existing lists of humanities organizations, evaluation of available mapping databases and software, and visualization and design for illustrating California’s humanities networks.