Mellon Curricular Grant FAQ

Mellon Curricular Grant FAQ

With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Bates is supporting academic units in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, and related interdisciplinary programs as they think about how their departments/programs, courses and majors reflect a commitment to equity and inclusion as defining elements of an excellent liberal arts education. Through careful evaluation, a reading of the department/program climate, and redesign of curricula, instructional methods, and academic requirements, Bates aims to transform our curriculum and pedagogical approaches so that they are better aligned with our institutional values and goals with regard to equity and inclusion. 

If your questions are not answered below, please feel free to reach out to the Mellon Curricular Grant Committee (MCGC@groups.bates.edu). The Committee aims to encourage the development of as many strong plans as possible.

What departments and programs are Mellon Grant eligible?

Mellon grants are available to any department or program in the humanities, social sciences, and interdisciplinary studies divisions whose faculty use humanistics methods of inquiry. For questions, please see ACLS definition of the Humanities.

Is there a due date?

All work needs to be completed by the end of FY24. Creating a proposal for curricular transformation is embedded in the Foundational Dialogue process that is being administered through the Dean of the Faculty’s office. Upon completion of the foundational dialogue, the academic unit should produce a curricular transformation plan. The plan should be discussed with the disciplinary expert and submitted to the dean. 

What is the application and funding process?

Once your proposal is submitted, the DOF will share it with the Mellon Committee which will review the plan and ensure that it meets the criteria outlined in this document. Once approved, the committee will release funds to the academic unit. An Instructional Designer and the Committee will work with you and your academic unit as you move through the process. 

Can teams from two different departments or programs get together and submit a joint proposal?

While the focus of this grant is on individual units, we encourage departments and programs to work collaboratively. Joint proposals should mention the work each team will do with the other team and how the collaborative work will remove barriers within each academic unit. Our goal here is to approve and support as much of this work as we possibly can, not to put departments and programs in competition with each other.

How do department and program teams identify the most pressing gaps, barriers, and problems regarding equity and inclusion in their curricula, pedagogies, and structures?

The Foundational Dialogues are meant to help academic units closely review their curricula, instructional methods, and academic requirements to identify issues and gaps, while also assisting the department or program in designing a plan to mitigate barriers to success. The Dean of the Faculty’s office and the office of Institutional Research will compile a variety of data, which will be shared with departments and programs as part of the dialog series.

Does the size of the department or program matter?

No. We just ask that your proposal reflects a departmental or programmatic commitment to the work and seeks to make concerted efforts towards course, pedagogical, structural, and policy change to benefit all students within your zone of influence. 

Does the entire unit and/or the Chair have to sign off on this work? Relatedly, how many people (and who) constitute(s) a project team? 

Every member of an academic unit is not required to participate in order to submit a proposal and/or receive a grant. The Mellon Curricular Grant Committee understands that departments and programs may elect to have representatives work deeply on these issues in communication with the entirety of their academic unit. Department/Program Chairs are not required to be part of a project team but they do need to sign off on the proposal as an acknowledgement of the proposal and in support of the project’s implementation. 

How does this work get sustained after the grant ends?

We expect that revisions to course content and pedagogy, faculty practices, and departmental structures will lead to long term, sustained changes in the way our students are educated at Bates so that all students feel seen, heard, and equitably educated in their courses and majors. We also anticipate the culture and climate of the department and program to be impacted in ways that allow all members of our faculty and academic staff to feel seen, heard, and equitably supported. We expect funded units to continue this work through existing Bates structures such as short term redesign, practitioner taught courses, learning associates grants, Bates Faculty Development Funds, etc. Finally, with many new faculty hires in the coming years replacing retiring faculty, academic units will continue to be infused with new modes of thinking and practice.

What type of measurable goals are we looking for?

The local and specific gaps, barriers, and assets you identify through your foundational dialogues, as well as the data you gather from IR and the DOF, will determine the goals, outcomes, and measures of assessment for your project. Generally, in your proposal, we hope to see your measurable goals reflecting several of those outlined the Mellon Grant RFP.

How might this project work in conjunction with departmental or program reviews?

We anticipate your Mellon Grant project will dovetail with your departmental or program review, though this is not a requirement to receive funding. If you would like to talk about how your review goals might work to support a Mellon Grant project (or vice versa), please reach out to the Dean of the Faculty.

How will applicants be provided spaces for community-building and resource sharing?

What were those common resistances that Dr. Guy-Sheftall listed at her February 2020 workshops?

Dr. Guy-Sheftall kindly sent us a pdf of those.