Funded Projects | St. Lawrence University Mellon Humanities Grant

Funded Projects

Large Grants

Crossing Campus Boundaries in Upstate New York: St. Lawrence University & Colgate University Students Studying the Vietnam War
Donna Alvah, Andrew J. Rotter

This proposal supported Alvah (St. Lawrence University) and Rotter (Colgate University) in their plans for blended, collaborative courses on the Vietnam War in Spring 2015. The courses operate autonomously but meet collectively on Wednesdays (via video-conferencing) to discuss various types of texts on the Vietnam War, including scholarly analyses, documentary and feature films, novels, and other historical sources. Alvah and Rotter have both taught courses on the Vietnam War for many years at their respective universities. Students are eager to understand why the United States waged a war in Vietnam, how Americans, Vietnamese, and other people participated in and responded to the war, and why the war was and remains controversial. The blended learning format allows participants from both locations to widen a range of perspectives on these topics. 

A Digital Oral History of Climate Change Activism
Jessica Prody, Daniel McLane

Project team leaders plan to work with folklorist Camilla Ammirati of TAUNY 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.

Engaging Rwanda: Conservation, Development, and Reconciliation
Matt Carotenuto, Erika Barthelmess, Wendy Haugh, Abdelwahab Sinnary

Project team members traveled to Rwanda in 2013 to gather, information, collect resources, and make connections needed to develop an interdisciplinary summer course, which will explore the theme “Engaging Rwanda: Conservation, Development, and Reconciliation.” The group is also exploring possibilities for using webcasting technology to connect Rwandan students with St. Lawrence University on-campus students.

Enhancing the Humanities through Community Based Learning
Liz Regosin, Brenda Papineau, Matt McCluskey, Bob Cowser, Jennifer Hansen

This project team is currently conducting a semester-long workshop to engage more faculty in Community Based Learning (CBL) pedagogies in order to produce an even more sustainable CBL program with a broader curriculum. Its aim is to use the workshop to bring together faculty new to CBL, students who work in CBL (current Community Mentors), and current CBL faculty and staff with the end result of new, linked CBL courses and a commitment on the part of workshop attendees to teach them regularly. Courses created in the workshop will be linked through their collective use of a new Community Engagement website “Engaging the North Country,” to be constructed in partnership with the Digital Initiatives group. 

Food, Culture, Ecology, and Society: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Food
Xiaoshuo Hou, Marina Llorente, Aswini Pai

This project brings faculty members from Conservation Biology, Modern Languages and Literatures, and Sociology, and aims to create a new course cluster entitled “Food: Culture, Ecology, and Society” with five or more courses to be taught between 2014 and 2017. The project team plans to (1) work together as a multidisciplinary team to develop new courses and strengthen existing courses related to food; (2) organize common activities and invite guest speakers for students taking courses in the cluster; and (3) maintain a cluster website to display student projects, blogs, videos, and share resources for food teaching, writing, and research. The goals of the project include exploring innovative pedagogies for teaching integrative learning, creating new ways to incorporate digital media in teaching and student research, and developing food-related digital collections that can be shared with a wider audience. This project also hopes to draw more faculty members who are interested in teaching food-related courses to the cluster to expand its scope and arouse a general interest in food studies on campus.

Francophone West Africa in Transnational Perspective
Eloïse Brezault, Judith DeGroat, Jenny Hansen, Kristin McKie

This group will create a cluster of courses that examine the history, culture, and politics of Francophone Africa from an interdisciplinary and cross-divisional perspective that will enhance knowledge of and interest in Francophone Africa, as well as provide students with an option to complete the Integrated Learning Component (ILC) of the new curriculum.

Integrative Learning and Off-Campus Study
Karl Schonberg, Traci Fordham, Marina Llorente, John Collins, Judith DeGroat, Kelley Lawson-Khalidi, Richard Jenseth

A collaborative project between Mellon, CIIS, and other faculty the aim of which is to help integrate off campus study into the academic experience of students and the curricular and intellectual life of the college.  The focus is on all phases of the off-campus experience, from choosing a program, to preparation, to connecting the experience and learning once back on campus.

Paths to the Buddha: Studying Buddhism from an Interdisciplinary Perspective
Mark MacWilliams, Erin McCarthy, Zhenjung Zhang, Mark McMurray

This group has worked together since Fall 2013 to create a cluster of new, interrelated courses under the theme “Paths to the Buddha.” Project goals include fostering inter-departmental collaborative teaching in ways that are unique to St. Lawrence University, creating opportunities for group participants to learn from each other’s research and teaching, developing an interdisciplinary course reader and online digital collections for use in St. Lawrence University classrooms and beyond.

Picturing the Civil Rights Movement
Mary Jane Smith

Mary Jane Smith 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. Dr. Smith is working closely with Catherine Tedford, director of the Brush Arts Gallery, and Carole Mathey, assistant director of the Brush Arts Gallery, to incorporate a collection of 172 Associated Press photos of lesser-known events in the civil rights movement, recently acquired by the Gallery, into her digital project. A related gallery exhibition featuring student presentations of research is planned for 2017.

Social Justice and the Humanities
Liz Regosin, Sarah Barber, Samantha Glazier, Jennifer Hansen

This project team is comprised of faculty from four different disciplines—Chemistry, Philosophy, History and English. In Fall 2013, group members held a reading group to reflect critically on the topics of social justice and the humanities. The group has contributed to the question of how a liberal arts institution can effectively engage with locally incarcerated individuals.

Strengthening the Weave for the Next Generation
John Collins, Stephen Barnard, Jana Morgan

This project aims to improve the Weave (, 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.

Weaving the Streets and People’s Archive
John Collins, Cathy Tedford, with assistance from CIIS

Collins and Tedford proposed a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary collaborative project that offers students, faculty, alumni, and others the opportunity to be part of a dynamic, global, investigative blog, the Weave, and a digital archive, Street Art Graphics, to document the creative ways in which ordinary people make use of public space to express themselves.

Small Grants

Adirondack Sutra: A Letterpress Book Arts Project
Mark McMurray  

With his award, McMurray worked with two students interning at his Caliban Press (located in Canton) from January 4-19, 2013. Together, they created  “Adirondack Sutra” as a letterpress printed book in the Tibetan format “pecha” (oblong shape derived from the Indian palm-leaf or “pothi”). This print object has been digitized and is available at

Alaskans Sharing Indigenous Knowledge
Jon Rosales

The Alaskans Sharing Indigenous Knowledge (AKSIK) project is a science and advocacy project headed up by Dr. Jon Rosales, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.  AKSIK documents the impacts of climate change on two indigenous communities in northwestern Alaska – Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island and Shaktoolik in the Norton Sound on the mainland of Alaska.  AKSIK documents local knowledge of climate change in these subsistence communities and highlights their efforts to adapt to these changes via video on the project’s website.  Along with publications of our work in the peer-reviewed literature, AKSIK produces short documentary films that highlight the needs of the communities.  Rosales hopes the project “brings attention to communities that receive no media attention by showing the human face of climate change on the website and prods decision makers to act” on this crisis.  Aksik is also a Siberian Yupik term that boat captains in Savoonga call out to crew members in the bow to turn the boat quickly in a new direction by placing an oar in the water and pulling it back on the gunnel of the boat.  The AKSIK tagline is – Native Voices from the Frontlines of Climate Change. Mellon funds helped support the site's transition from private web hosting to an institutional digital project platform.

Creating an Interactive Multimedia Collection for the Arabic Courses
Gisele El Khoury

The central idea of this project is to create an interactive multimedia collection that will be used in all Arabic courses offered at St. Lawrence University. The collection digitizes four Arabic songs and pairs them with multimedia materials such as online flashcards, activities, interactive timelines, and news broadcasts.

Filming Vandana Shiva and Navdanya: Videography and Curricular Enhancements in English, Environmental Studies, Global Studies, and Biology
Natalia R. Singer

In the fall of 2014, students from SLU enrolled on the New York Consortium’s India semester had the rare opportunity to meet and speak with Vandana Shiva, a renowned environmental activist and anti-globalization author. This Crossing Boundaries grant allowed three students to be trained in videography in the summer of 2014, so that they could produce a short film (20 minutes) and clips based on their conversation with Shiva on August 25. 

The Hogwarts School of Finance: British Children’s Literature
Cynthia Bansak and Karen Gibson   

Funds supported a new First Year Program course team-taught from two locations: Canton and London. Karen Gibson (Canton) and Cynthia Bansak (London) co-taught this Fall 2014 course by using teleconferencing technology. The two classes collaborated in completing all FYP course requirements. 

How Science Communicates: An Interdisciplinary Project
Jessica Prody, Adam Fox, Erika Barthelmess, Richard Jenseth

This project begins with a faculty reading group for Spring 2014 that explores the persistent challenge of scientific findings and research being communicated effectively to public audiences. This reading group will identify the current communicative problems facing contemporary scientists, build relationships between scientists, social scientists, humanities, and arts faculty across campus, and design ways for students across the disciplines to work collaboratively.

Human Flourishing in Contemporary Society: The Pursuit of Happiness
Erin McCarthy

With support from the Crossing Boundaries project, McCarthy has continued to work on an upper-level philosophy course titled “Human Flourishing in Contemporary Society: The Pursuit of Happiness.”  She has met with faculty and staff at the Danish Institute of Study Abroad Denmark to plan logistics, lectures, and field visits. The course will include a digital humanities collection.

The Public Sphere of Renaissance Venice
Juraj Kittler

This project has focused on developing a new multidisciplinary course on the public sphere in Renaissance Venice. Students will read primary historical literary sources, and they will engage with visual and material artifacts: architecture, works of arts, maps, and historical costumes. Students will connect historical events to concrete spaces and places using geo-referencing.

Revista Digital Literature (Special Topics Course)
Spanish Section of Modern Languages & Literatures   

This grant funded an online literature and arts journal in Spanish, with writing based on student experiences in Spain and Costa Rica. Goals included:  a) help students synthesize their abroad experiences and maintain language skills; b) help recruit abroad students for Spanish-speaking countries; c) give the institution a unique off-campus profile through a student-run journal in Spanish; and (d) facilitate collaborative learning among abroad program participants.

Spatial Learning Opportunities 
Carol Cady, Dakota Casserly

Funds for this project supported the creation of a digital geospatial database, housed on a dynamic web-adaptable Geographic Information Systems (GIS) server. This architecture will allow faculty in the humanities and social sciences to create customized web-based maps, which can be used to add clarity and detail to a range of topics. The GIS server, additionally, gives St. Lawrence University the ability to store data associated with these projects in a well-maintained and curated digital framework.