Mellon grant boosts collaborative projects for equity, social justice

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has approved a grant of $1.2 million to extend the Mellon Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities (AUH) interdisciplinary seminar series at Cornell for three years with a focus on social justice.

“The grant supports innovative, cross-disciplinary coursework on one of the most pressing problems of this generation: equity and justice in the U.S. built environment,” said Meejin Yoon, the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP), which shares planning and administration of the seminars with the Society for the Humanities, in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S).

Since the foundation’s initial grant of $1.46 million in 2013, the AUH seminars have studied the global city from the perspectives of humanist scholars, architects and urbanists.

“The humanities offer critical insight to the questions confronting our world, and this cross-disciplinary grant unites Cornell’s great strengths to tackle some of those issues. It’s gratifying that this successful program will continue thanks to the Mellon Foundation,” said Derk Pereboom, senior associate dean for arts and humanities and the Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy and Ethics (A&S).

The new funding will support two new projects. The Design Justice Workshop series will emphasize research and design on race and social justice in cities and communities. The Urban Justice series will enable students to collaborate with Cornell University Library and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art to research Cornell collections dedicated to urban challenges in race and social justice in the U.S.

“We are very grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s renewed endorsement of the effectiveness of Cornell’s innovative pedagogy in architecture, urbanism and the humanities, and we are excited for the AUH program to feature Cornell’s vital research and pedagogy in urbanism, race and social justice,” said Timothy Murray, the CCA director and professor of comparative literature and English in A&S.

The program will also offer a unique public service component, with AUH students given the option of participating in a summer “social impact” internship in American cities and towns or a “public curatorial expression” in conjunction with the Cornell Council for the Arts (CCA) Biennial and the Johnson Museum.

“The Mellon Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities seminars will continue to offer some of Cornell’s most critical intellectual engagements with equity and justice as it impacts urbanism,” Yoon said. “We are especially pleased to be able to extend classroom learning into public service via the summer internship and Cornell Biennial curatorial programs.”

Murray and Yoon will serve as principal investigators for the grant. The series advisory committee also includes Carl A. Kroch University Librarian Gerard Beasley and Jessica Levin Martinez, the Schwartz Director of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.

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