February 4, 2013

New Graduate Fellowship to Boost Humanities in N.Y. State

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Hoping to influence the public realm and strengthen the humanities in New York State, the University has created a Graduate Student Public Humanities Fellowship for the 2013-14 academic year.

Selected fellows will collaborate with the New York Council for the Humanities, according to Prof. Tim Murray, English, director of the Society for the Humanities program.

Fellows will be selected based on the submission of a project proposal.

“[The fellowship] legitimizes graduate scholarship that can be implemented to address the widest of public audiences,” Murray said. “[It is] an effort to grow public interest in the humanities while enhancing the professional skills of the graduate students in this consortium.”

Murray noted that the fellowship will allow the University to foster a connection with the New York State region.

“Selected fellows will [participate in a] workshop with the staff of the State Council on strategies of public involvement before translating their research into a practical project in partnership with a regional arts and cultural institute,” Murray said.

According to Murray, the fellowship will allow the University to further pursue its goal as a land-grant institution to serve a broad, public audience.

Leah Nahmias, program officer at the New York Council for the Humanities, highlighted some of the long lasting implications for the selected fellows’ careers.

“In the long term, building a cohort of scholars who want to and have skills for working in the public will have lots of impact, whether they pursue careers inside or outside of [academics],” she said.

Nahmias added that she hopes the fellowship will benefit more than just its members.

“Within [academia], hopefully [the fellows] will continue to work occasionally with the public, as well as become advocates for other faculty and students.”

The Cornell fellow will join a cohort of other public humanities fellows from Columbia University, New York University, the City University of New York, State University of New York at Buffalo and Syracuse University, according to Nahmias.

Nahmias said that this is not only the first time the Council has formed such a fellowship, but also the first time anything like this has occurred anywhere in the nation.

“Scholars usually consider their networks as discipline-based: They’re in conversation with colleagues around the country and around the world,” she said. “It’s a significant departure for scholars to think of themselves as part of a statewide network.”

Murray said that the humanities at Cornell are currently benefiting from an unusually successful period.

From hiring new faculty to raising funds to construct the new humanities building, Klarman Hall, the University has recently strengthened its dedication to the humanities, Murray said.

“Our faculty and graduate students have been the recipients of a wealth of national and international awards and fellowships,” Murray said.

The Society for the Humanities has  also received two major grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2012: $1.3 million for an endowment of the Society and $1.4 million with the College of Architecture, Art and Planning for a new graduate curriculum in urbanism, according to Murray.

Nahmias said that although the University can only support one fellow, she is gratified by the many prospective projects that have been submitted thus far.

“Although we won’t be able to fund every worthy candidate and project that’s been described in the applications, we at the Council have been pleased –– and a little surprised — to see how many young scholars are eager to work with the public,” she said.

Original Author: Jonathan Swartz