UMN Receives $5M Mellon Foundation Grant for New Just Futures Initiative


The IAS is pleased to introduce Minnesota Transform: A Just University for Just Futures, a $5 million higher education initiative that will address transformational decolonial and racial justice in the University, Twin Cities, and state through public humanities projects.

Minnesota Transform will collaborate with Black, Indigenous, immigrant and refugee communities to amplify historical interpretations, create new narratives and dialogues, foster community well-being and inform policy responses. Through its work and collaborations, Minnesota Transform will strategically broaden and deepen previously established relationships with communities, hold the University accountable for its complicities in order to pave the way for redress, and build the University’s capacity to be a site of racial justice.

The initiative will be led by faculty from the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses and collaborations span the system campuses:

  • David Chang: American Indian Studies, History; CLA
  • Jigna Desai: Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and Asian American Studies; CLA 
  • Tracey Deutsch: History, CLA
  • Tadd Johnson: American Indian Studies, CLA—U of M Duluth & Senior Director of American Indian Tribal Nations Relations
  • Kevin Murphy: History, CLA
  • Kari Smalkoski: MN Youth Story Squad; Gender, Women, Sexuality Studies; CLA
  • American Indian Studies
  • Bell Museum
  • Chicano and Latino Studies
  • Critical Disabilities Studies Collective
  • Disability Resource Center
  • Heritage Studies and Public History
  • Institute for Advanced Study
  • Law School
  • Minnesota Youth Story Squad
  • Race, Indigeneity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Initiative
  • School of Architecture
  • Theater, Arts and Dance
  • University of Minnesota Press
  • Urban and Regional Planning

Along with four local and national sub-awardees — Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, Sisseton Wahpeton College, Minneapolis College and Humanities Action Lab — this initiative will engage a dozen additional community partners, community elders, cultural practitioners and consultants. Minnesota Transform projects will take the form of language revitalization, storytelling by and for communities (in a variety of forms), and access to media to disseminate those stories. Among these will include a historic report on Tribal-University relations. 

More information, including the full list of University participants, can be found on the Minnesota Transform webpage. Thank you to all of the collaborators across the University, in the IAS community, in CLA, and beyond for their work on this proposal. We are so pleased to have the opportunity to support this important work.


Minnesota Transform will be administratively housed here at the Institute for Advanced Study, a systemwide University hub for interdisciplinary collaboration reporting to the executive vice president and provost. 


FEATURED IMAGE: A Minnesota Transform workshop with Minnesota Youth Story Squad co-director Dr. Kari Smalkoski and VISTA Srija Chatterjea-Sen, joined by local high school students, who together interview caretakers of the memorial at George Floyd Square about their work and future plans. Photo credit Ben Hovland.



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