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What to Watch for in 2015–2016 MELLON PUBLIC SCHOLARS PROGRAM

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the UC Davis Humanities Institute $400,000 to inaugurate a program that will support community-engaged scholarship and provide experience for graduate students interested in diverse careers.

The Mellon Public Scholars Program will launch in fall 2015 and invite 10 graduate students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to participate in a quarter-long seminar in spring 2016 that introduces them to the intellectual and practical aspects of public humanities scholarship. Each student will be paired with a faculty mentor to develop a community-based research project and spend the summer following the seminar working with the community partner they identify in their project.

While other universities have developed public humanities programs and offer degrees or certificates in the public humanities, few combine the research-oriented goals of nurturing public scholarship with professional development for graduate students. The Public Scholars seminar at UC Davis will provide students with training in areas such as project management, digital methods and communication at the same time they are developing new research skills. The institute will host a launch event for the Public Scholars Program on Monday, March 7, 2016.


In fall 2015, UC Davis will host its second Mellon Sawyer Seminar in three years. Named for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s long-serving third president, John E. Sawyer, the program is designed to create a temporary research center for cross-disciplinary, intensive study. Titled “Surveillance Democracies?” and led by Associate Professor Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli in Cinema and Digital Media and Law Professor Anupam Chander, the year-long seminar will interrogate the impact of digital technologies on our public and private lives. The subject has grown out of vigorous conversations and research collaborations on the UC Davis campus over the last several years on various forms of digital humanities.

The grant funds a postdoctoral research fellow and two advanced graduate students. It also underwrites the travel costs associated with bringing to UC Davis an array of scholars working in the humanities and social sciences for a series of symposia in 2015-2016.

“Surveillance Democracies?” was one of 10 Mellon Sawyer Seminars awarded in 2014. In Spring 2012, Ravetto-Biagioli convened a Faculty Research Seminar at the UC Davis Humanities Institute on the topic of surveillance and the social network.

“I am particularly pleased that the Seminar represents a collaboration … since the legal discussions about surveillance need to be situated in broader cultural frameworks.”

—Ralph J. Hexter Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor


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