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Jan 12, 2015 06:43 PM EST

University of Illinois Receives $2M Grant From Mellon Foundation

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The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been awarded a $2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create research groups in three emerging areas in the humanities.

The grant will support emerging areas of study in its Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH), such as bio-humanities, environmental humanities and legal humanities, Philanthropy News Digest reported. The three research areas reflect strengths at Illinois, according to Dianne Harris, director of IPRH and a professor of landscape architecture, architecture, art history and history.

"We were able to include in the grant application a long list of faculty with scholarly expertise in all three of these areas to show we could create strong research groups," Harris said in a statement. "We have a history over the past decade of seeing groups in the humanities doing really amazing cross-disciplinary work in those realms of inquiry."

Harris said the three research areas also align with priorities outlined in the campus strategic plan -- health and wellness, energy and the environment, and social and cultural understanding.

"These are areas to which the humanities have an enormous amount to contribute," Harris said.

The grant will be used for fellowships and internships for U. of I. faculty and students and to support post-doctoral fellowships. 

The research groups will provide the opportunity for undergraduate students to receive guidance in conducting and presenting their own primary source research. The initiative will include the creation of certificate programs for undergraduate students, who can take a concentration of coursework in an area not within their majors and that they may use to demonstrate specialization in that area to future employers.

The initiative will be launched in the 2016-17 academic year.

Harris noted past IPRH initiatives have included a year of focusing on the body and medical humanities issues, as well as a lecture series on climate change and the humanities.

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