The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a $4 million research grant to be split equally between four centers across universities, including the University’s Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America. The grant will fund new programs, research and public events at the University relating to issues supporting the center’s mission.
The CSREA will collaborate with centers at the University of Chicago, Yale and Stanford University.
To connect researchers studying social issues related to race and ethnicity, the centers aims to create an interdisciplinary academic community that can approach broad topics, which impact many people, from multiple angles. The “transformative” Mellon grant will allow the center to operate on a larger scale in conjunction with the three other universities, Director of the CSREA Tricia Rose said. This is good news for student and faculty researchers, such as Chair of American Studies, Professor of African and American Studies and CSREA faculty advisor Matthew Guterl, a historian who studies American concepts of “race and nation.”
“The CSREA grant is going to help anyone who needs to work collaboratively, (in order) to develop a manuscript, bring together community scholars to discuss the contributions of (their) work,” Guterl said. He hopes the grant could allow for opportunities for community discussions on relevant research topics.
Assistant Professor of American Studies Kevin Escudero, who researches immigration and refugee studies, comparative racial and ethnic studies and social movements, is thrilled about the grant, he wrote in an email to The Herald. In the past, Escudero has organized a speaker series on Critical Migration and Refugee Studies through the CSREA and is currently planning a book launch. “I believe here at Brown the grant will allow the center and its staff to continue developing additional research and teaching opportunities,” he said.
The CSREA also plans to use the grant to develop interdisciplinary humanities labs, where students and faculty would use humanities approaches to tackle pressing, real-world problems, from poverty to immigration policy. “The humanities lab is supposed to be a new and exciting opportunity to … do more intellectual play,” Rose said. The lab could prove beneficial in rethinking “what we call ‘social problems,’” she said. “We’re hoping that these labs will encourage faculty to be more creative about whatever social problems are interesting to them and to think about human responses.”
Beyond research funding, the grant will also allow the CSREA to host more public events and interact with the larger Providence community. In the past, the center has developed a lecture series called Writing for a Broken World, featuring public author talks. With the Mellon grant, Rose plans to not only institutionalize this series by including it as part of the CSREA’s regular programming, but also to add a public book club aspect involving discussion sessions with the authors.
“A grant like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Guterl said, “not just to turbo-charge what we’ve already got going, but to help us reconceptualize the work of the future so we can imagine research projects that we’ve never been able to consider because we’ve never had this much support before.”