Mellon Public Scholars Program

The 2020 Call for Proposals is now open. 
Applications are due Wednesday, January 15, 2020.

The UC Davis Humanities Institute invites applications from doctoral and MFA students in the arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences to join the 2020 cohort of Mellon Public Scholars. The program introduces graduate students to the intellectual and practical aspects of identifying, addressing, and collaborating with members of a public through their scholarship. Twelve successful graduate student applicants will participate in a quarter-long, two-credit seminar in spring 2020. Each student will work with a faculty partner to develop a community-based research project and receive a $7,500 stipend (with the possibility of supplemental project funds) to support the project over summer 2020.

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. The program encourages students to consider faculty mentors outside of their department as a way to broaden their interdisciplinary network. However, applicants do not need to have a faculty member identified at the time of application. 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 will receive a $2,000 award (i.e., as summer salary).

The Mellon 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.

Pre-established and/or Original Projects

Applicants may choose to propose an original project (of their own) or be considered for a pre-established project with a community partner (listed below). Students may apply to either and/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, they only apply for the one that best fits their interests and background. Please contact the program manager (Stephanie Maroney, srmaroney@ucdavis.edu) 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 partner 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 https://voorhies.ucdavis.edu/dhi/funding/ and complete the online application form. Proposals are due by 5 p.m. on Wednesday January 15, 2020. Late submissions will not be considered. Fellows will be announced in February. Please contact Program Manager Stephanie Maroney (srmaroney@ucdavis.edu) with any questions.

2020 Community Partners and Pre-established Project Descriptions

California State Parks: Developing a California Native American Interpretive Framework at Marshall Gold State Historic Park

Location: Sacramento, CA (Travel between Sacramento and Coloma will be required)
Keywords: State Government – Interpretative Design – California Native American History

California State Parks is developing a pilot interpretive framework for Marshall Gold Discovery Park in Coloma, California. With Governor Newsom’s apology for California Native American Genocide in California, California State Parks is in the beginning stages of reviewing interpretation at Parks with an Indigenous nexus. This project will be the first of several reviews of other Gold Rush-era parks through current interpretation and education standards.

The scholar will assist the Tribal Affairs Program, Interpretation and Education Division, and the Cultural Resources Program at Gold Fields District with engaging and consulting tribes whose history, culture, and traditions interact with Marshall Gold Discovery Park. This includes scheduling and attending tribal consultations, reviewing current interpretive models at the Park, and creating a framework document with recommendations from both the tribes and the Public Scholar for developing an inclusive Indigenous history through interpretive design (panels, tours, digital tools, etc.). California State Parks will mentor the student through close partnership and professional development opportunities.

Sacramento Gender Health Center: Trans Health Storytelling

Location: Sacramento, CA
Keywords: Digital Storytelling – Mental Health – Public Affairs

Working with Gender Health Center staff, the Mellon Public Scholar will collect digital stories of Sacramento-area transgender folks. These narratives will be developed in consideration of the structural barriers that constrain trans folks’ agency to access mental health services voluntarily, and in response to state and nation-wide mental health awareness campaigns that do not approach mental health with consideration to these structural factors, nor in an intersectional way.

These stories will address the complex experiences of trans people accessing health resources, in their own voices. Work on this project will include outreach and communication with the GHC’s trans community, scheduling and attending interviews, and working with storytellers to edit and produce their narratives. Some prior experience with digital storytelling will be helpful in this project. 

Capital Public Radio: Participatory Journalism

Location: Sacramento, CA
Keywords: Research, Communication, Civic Storytelling

Capital Public Radio is the NPR affiliate serving California’s Central Valley and Sierra Nevada. Seven frequencies, hundreds of thousands of listeners, and one mission: to build stronger communities. CapRadio works collaboratively with community partners to understand and voice community needs, concerns and aspirations. Our long-form journalism projects (e.g, podcasts) involve robust community engagement to develop and report powerful stories that explain issues and seek solutions. 

Working closely with Senior Community Engagement Strategist jesikah maria ross, the Mellon Public Scholar will assist in developing and assessing engaged journalism projects at CapRadio that focus on underserved audiences and/or underreported issues (capradio.org/ruralsuicide is a recent example). This may involve doing issue research, generating story ideas, organizing listening sessions, assisting in community media trainings, evaluating impacts, producing a variety of communications pieces and coordinating public events. This summer, CapRadio will likely be doing long form reporting projects related to sexual assault and the 2020 elections. 

California Arts Council: [Detailed Project Description Forthcoming!]

Location: Sacramento, CA
Background in the arts is not a requirement for this position

The California 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. Previous Mellon Public Scholars have evaluated the coverage and reach of the CAC’s grant programs. 

Evaluation Criterion, Review, and Selection

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.
  • Download evaluation rubric. 

 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 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.
  • Download evaluation rubric.

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.