Mellon Curricular Grant FAQ

With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Bates is launching a grant program to support 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 around 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 proposals 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?

September 15 of 2020, 2021 and 2022. 

Why are external consultants limited to $2,500?

The Mellon Curricular Grant Committee expects units to engage with external experts through conversations, campus visits, professional conferences, and faculty development activities offered by Bates. It is possible, however, to rely too heavily on outside consultants to “fix” the problem. The $2500 limit allows units to pursue professional development while also encouraging individuals and units to do the internal work that will lead to curricular transformation.

With the Dean of Faculty’s new emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration, how does interdisciplinary collaboration fit within this RFP?

We encourage and welcome proposals from units that take an interdisciplinary approach. Indeed, breaking down silos and working across differences to transform ourselves, our students, and our college enacts exactly the kind of social justice and equity lense this grant supports.

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 Mellon Curricular Grant Committee is working with institutional research to compile a variety of data, which we will share with departments and programs as soon as they are available. In addition, the Mellon Curricular Grant Committee will host events this spring to help units develop pathways to curricular transformation. The first of these events will be the Decolonizing Academic Spaces Workshop to be held on March 19 and 20th.

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. 

What if two people from a department of four people submit a proposal?

That is fine. 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. We will still be anticipating some indication that the department and program will be part of the work on some level. 

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 to replace 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 in your zone of influence, as well as the data you gather at the start of your project, 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 Mellon Curricular Grant Committee.

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

Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s recent visit and workshop was one space where the Mellon Curricular Grant Committee sought to begin providing spaces for capacity, community-building and resource sharing. The committee is supporting the upcoming Decolonizing Academic Spaces Conference, on March 19-20, that will include a Mellon Grant RFP workshop for those interested. Following that workshop, the Committee will host several sessions during which academic units can discuss their ideas and work with members of the committee present as support.

What were those common resistances that Dr. Guy-Sheftall listed at the workshop?

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