News

'Crossing Boundaries' Selects Digital Projects for Grants

In December 2015, three new projects proposed by members of the St. Lawrence University faculty were awarded large-scale grants through “Crossing Boundaries: Re-envisioning Humanities for the 21st Century,” a five-year project supported by a $700,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The funded projects are “Strengthening the Weave for the Next Generation,” “A Digital Oral History of Climate Change Activism,” and “Picturing the Civil Rights Movement.” “The projects selected this semester represent a broad range of disciplines, but they all share a common commitment to innovative and interdisciplinary collaboration in the humanities,” said Leila Walker, assistant director of the Crossing Boundaries Mellon Humanities Grant. “We are excited to support projects that forge connections across our academic, regional, and global communities.” In addition to providing financial and technical support, the Crossing Boundaries staff work with faculty to develop project goals and pedagogical strategies over the course of the grant. John Collins, professor of global studies, Stephen Barnard, assistant professor of sociology, and Jana Morgan, national director of Publish What You Pay USA, will serve as the project leaders for “Strengthening the Weave for the Next Generation.” The team plans to use the grant to improve the Weave (www.weavenews.org), an independent news source that promotes “citizen journalism,” by developing a pilot program of alumni-student apprenticeships, establishing a Weave Faculty Fellows program to help St. Lawrence University faculty members integrate investigative blogging for the Weave into their courses, and improving the Weave’s organizational and editorial structure in preparation for the ten-year anniversary in 2017. Jessica Prody, assistant professor of performance and communication arts, and Daniel McLane, assistant professor of sociology, will serve as the project leaders for “A Digital Oral History of Climate Change Activism.” They plan to use the grant to provide training in oral history practices and develop a digital archive of oral history interviews conducted by St. Lawrence University students with local and global activists in the climate change movement. Mary Jane Smith, associate professor of history, will serve as the project leader for “Picturing the Civil Rights Movement.” She plans to use the grant to develop courses on African American studies and the civil rights movement to include modules based on visual, aural, and digital sources. Smith is working closely with Catherine Tedford, director of St. Lawrence University’s Richard F. Brush Arts Gallery, and Carole Mathey, assistant director of the gallery, to incorporate a collection of 172 Associated Press photos of lesser-known events in the civil rights movement, recently acquired by the Brush Art Gallery, into her digital project. A related gallery exhibition featuring student presentations of research is planned for 2017. In 2012, St. Lawrence University was awarded a $700,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation for a five-year project, “Crossing Boundaries: Re-envisioning Humanities for the 21st Century,” with the understanding and belief that certain forms of knowledge can no longer be isolated, and that issues we confront today as humans compel us to think across traditional boundaries. The Crossing Boundaries initiative supports projects that reshape the structures characterizing our humanities curriculum to create meaningful integration and collaboration. In particular, Crossing Boundaries supports projects that extend the core principals of the grant: Integrative learning: Projects that expand the space of teaching and learning beyond the classroom and provide opportunities for students from different courses to work together. Intertextuality and multi-modal literacy: Projects that extend the form of "texts" students explore to include images, music, sound, printed texts, or digital media, and create opportunities for students to investigate and gain proficiency in a variety of representational strategies. Collaboration: Projects, including hybrid and cross-disciplinary courses, that engage students and faculty across departments, institutions, and locations to foster in our students a greater sense of cosmopolitanism and global citizenship. Curricular and Pedagogical Innovation: Projects involving affinity courses (courses with intellectual or theoretical "affinities" planned with common activities such as speakers, gallery events, field trips, or workshops), linked courses (two or more courses with common interests and, ideally, common meeting times, that include opportunities for collaborative student work), and course clusters (a small number of courses connected by common themes or overarching questions). In addition to the limited number of large-scale grants exceeding $2,000 that are awarded once a semester, Crossing Boundaries also funds small-scale projects up to $2,000 on a rolling basis. Both categories of grants can help defray costs associated with digitization; books, materials, software, collaborative project travel (but not student travel), speaker fees, and student researchers or project assistants. For more information about the grant or to apply, visit www.stlawu.edu/mellon-humanities-grant.