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The Mellon Public Humanities Scholars Program

The Mellon Public Humanities Scholars Program

Frequently Asked Questions (with Answers):

Q: What is the mission of the grant program?

A: Hunter College has received a substantial grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation to create advanced research opportunities for promising advanced undergraduate students in Public Humanities.

Q: What do you mean by “promising advanced undergraduate students”?

A: We are looking for students who have demonstrated exceptional potential in their classes. There is no minimum GPA requirement to apply. All currently enrolled students who have earned over 60 credits at the time of application are eligible to apply; students must have earned at least 15 credits in Hunter classes.

Q: What is Public Humanities?

A: Public Humanities is an evolving interdisciplinary field and set of practices that draw on humanistic modes of inquiry to help address pressing concerns in the public sphere and open new avenues of civic engagement. Each grant project should have both a clearly identifiable academic dimension (a question of limited scope that can be reasonably addressed in a research or policy paper) and a public outreach dimension.

Q: What are some examples of current Public Humanities Grant projects at Hunter?

A: Examples of currently funded projects include a study of how indigenous communities in Central and South America relate culturally and politically to Spanish-speaking Hispanic and Latinx immigrant communities in the US; an examination of historical use of the term “Welfare Queen” and its ongoing effects; a study of the rhetoric of science in recent science skepticism in the US; and a project on the Egyptian Surrealist art movement. A list of other projects is available here: https://ops.hunter.cuny.edu/mphg-list-of-student-projects-2019-2020/

Q: What do you mean by “public outreach dimension”?

A: Students should aim to have their ideas reach beyond the college setting. Current MPHSP students are working with museums and libraries; with residents of public housing projects; with music collectives in the Bronx; and are preparing podcasts and Wikipedia entries.

Q: I’m not sure whether I’m in a Humanities department or program. Can you clarify?

A: Humanities disciplines at Hunter include Africana, Puerto Rican, and Latino Studies; Art and Art History; Arts Management; Asian American Studies; Classical and Oriental Studies; Comparative Literature; Dance; English; Environmental Studies; Film and Media Studies; German; History; Human Rights; Jewish Studies; Music; Philosophy; Religion; Romance Languages; Theatre; Urban Studies; and Women and Gender Studies. Some concentrations in Anthropology, Education, Geology, Political Science, Social Work, and Sociology may also have a humanities emphasis. The short answer is that if the project contains a dimension that engages the humanities (art, literature, philosophy, theatre, etc.), you may apply.

Q: In what ways will I collaborate with professors?

A: Students will be assigned individual faculty mentors and will meet regularly with them to discuss independent study projects.  They will be able to present and share their research in Public Humanities symposia and outside conferences.

Q: What will the grant prepare me to do?

A: Students’ intensive research and seminar participation might serve as a springboard for graduate studies (masters or Ph.D.), or it might help pave the way for careers in the arts or in public affairs.

Q: How much money will I receive for participating?

A: A total of $3,000. Mentors will also receive funding.

Q: I am a transfer student. Can I still apply?

A: All Hunter students with over 60 credits are eligible, but as noted above, at least 15 credits must have been earned at Hunter.

Q: If I’m already working on an honors thesis or independent study, can I also explore this in the Mellon Grant?

A: Yes, as long as there is an academic dimension and a public outreach dimension to your proposed MPHSP project.

Q: What do I need to do to apply?

A: The completed application will include: 1) a personal statement up to 250 words describing who you are and why you want to pursue a public humanities project; 2) an essay of up to 750 words describing the academic question in the humanities you wish to pursue, the argument you intend to make, and your ideas for public outreach; 3) a letter of recommendation from a faculty member addressing the professor’s familiarity with you and your work and the merits and viability of your proposed study; and 4) an unofficial copy of your Hunter College transcript.

Q: When is the application due?

A: The application deadline is Monday, March 2, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.

Q: What can I do to prepare?

A: By early February you should jot down some ideas for a project. A recommended timeline would be as follows: by February 10, 2020, you should contact an instructor familiar with your work and ask the instructor to meet, to read a draft of your application, and to write a recommendation for you. This instructor may or may not become your mentor. (Mentors are almost always full-time, tenured faculty members at Hunter College; recommenders are not required to be. If you do not have a mentor at the time of your application, we will try to find you one.) Please note: the recommendation letter is also due by March 2, 2020, the same date as the application.

To apply, please visit this link to the MPHSP online application.

Students with questions not addressed on this FAQ may contact Carolyn McDonough: carolyn.mcdonough@hunter.cuny.edu