Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Graduate School News and Events

Mellon Grant to Broaden Focus of Humanities at Yale

Yale has received a four-year grant of $1.95 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to enhance humanities education throughout the University, with several initiatives specific to the Graduate School.

Mellon Foundation

To broaden the sharp focus of research in the humanities, the Graduate School will use Mellon funding to introduce a new concentration that will extend course work from two to three years, enabling students to develop individual programs of study that advance their understanding of both their primary discipline and the wider intellectual setting in which it resides. In each of the next years, a team of faculty members will offer a core seminar on a different topic that cuts across disciplinary boundaries and brings students together from multiple departments. In addition to the coursework, students will have the opportunity to develop special exam topics and participate in teaching courses that cover sweeping, cross-disciplinary themes at the edges and intersections of traditional fields of study.

The Mellon Grant will also allow Yale to build on an already existing program for post-doctoral fellows in the humanities. The program provides recent PhDs with new opportunities to teach at the undergraduate level and to broaden their teaching portfolios by offering courses that go beyond their specific discipline. In addition to enhancing future employment prospects, the program will further enrich the robust community of humanities scholars at Yale.

Yale is also considering ways of extending the resources afforded by the Mellon grant by developing partnerships with nearby universities and liberal arts colleges. Among strategies under consideration is a cost-sharing plan whereby Yale would ay part of the salaries for recent Yale PhDs to teach at liberal arts colleges and universities within a a two-hour driving radius of New Haven. With this pooled funding, Yale could increase the number of post-doctoral fellows it supports, and the fellows themselves would find new teaching opportunities and gain pedagogical experience.

The grant will support undergraduate teaching that spans disciplinary and conceptual boundaries. Ranging from introductory lectures to capstone seminars, these will enable the discovery and development of new knowledge at the edges and intersections of traditional fields of study.

“We are extremely grateful to the Mellon Foundation for providing the opportunity to address humanities teaching and research at all levels of the University,” said Graduate School alumna Mary Miller (PhD 1981, History of Art), dean of Yale College. “Our goal is to establish a flow of new ideas among a community of scholars that would extend from those teaching undergraduates through graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, making it possible for faculty and students alike to participate in broader conversations across the humanistic discplines.”