The Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls network has created stronger, lasting institutional connections.
In the beginning, Humanities Without Walls was an untested idea. An experiment. Building HWW’s infrastructure was an evolutionary process, with several of the consortial partners finding ways to map or adapt HWW ideologies onto pre-existing institutional landscapes, while other members of the consortium forged ahead into more uncharted territory.
In this article, HWW speaks with consortial partners Jennifer Gunn (University of Minnesota), Antoinette Burton (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), John Christman (Pennsylvania State University), Teresa Mangum (University of Iowa), and Bill Hart-Davidson (Michigan State University), about the footprint of HWW projects on their respective campuses.
“The consortium helped stimulate [our collective] imagination,” said Jennifer Gunn, former director of the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota.
Being a partner on HWW work has helped the IAS promote the value of interdisciplinary work across the University of Minnesota system while significantly expanding many different partnerships, collaborations, networks, and relationships.
The HWW partnership has funded several significant research grants through the Grand Research Challenge project, including two current projects: “Archival Repatriation and Boarding School Healing: The Morris Indian Industrial School and White Earth Nation” led by Kevin Whalen, associate professor of Native American and Indigenous Studies on the Morris campus, as well as “Environmental Justice Worldmaking: Redistribution and Reciprocity for a Just Transition” led by Rose Brewer, a Morse Distinguished Teaching Professor of African American and African Studies on the Twin Cities campus.
In turn, HWW has enabled professional development opportunities for graduate students through the HWW Career Diversity Workshop. Numerous University of Minnesota students have participated over the years, and in 2023, this workshop was hosted on the Twin Cities campus by the College of Liberal Arts with IAS Director Bianet Castellanos serving as PI. The series of workshops gathered twenty-five diverse graduate students together for workshops focused on demystifying career pathways, utilizing skill sets, and making space for social transformation.
Humanities Without Walls is a consortium of humanities centers at sixteen research universities throughout the Midwest and beyond. The consortium aims to create new avenues for collaborative and interdisciplinary research, publicly engaged scholarship, and professional opportunities for faculty and graduate students. The Institute for Advanced Study has served as the University of Minnesota consortial partner since its inception. HWW is funded by grants from the Mellon Foundation.