Mellon Curricular Transformation Grants

Note there is an intent to apply form that the committee asks interested departments and programs to complete prior to grant submission. The committee held an info session for interested departments and programs on January 15, and a video of that session is available here.


Mellon Curricular Transformation 

With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Bates is launching a program to support academic units in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, and related interdisciplinary programs as they think about how their courses and majors reflect a commitment to equity1 and inclusion2 as defining elements of an excellent liberal arts education. By supporting the careful evaluation and redesign of curricula, instructional methods, and academic requirements, this grant allows for the transformation of our curriculum and pedagogical approaches so that they are better aligned with our institutional values and goals around equity and inclusion.

To support a fuller understanding for how white supremacy3 and settler colonialism4 impact college curricula and pedagogy, and to ensure academic units are fully prepared to engage in sustained curricular change work, the Mellon Process includes five steps:

  1. Completing an Intent to Apply
  2. Participating in Foundational Workshops
  3. Proposing a Curricular Transformation Plan
  4. Implementing the plan
  5. Reporting

Intent to Apply: To initiate participation, we ask academic units to fill out a brief Intent to Apply form that will help us provide individualized support to each academic unit doing this work. We know that the work of curricular transformation is hard, and our role is to support you throughout the process. To that end, once the Mellon Curricular Transformation Grant Committee has received the Intent to Apply submission, each department and/or program will be assigned committee liaisons from the Mellon team who will provide support throughout the curricular transformation process.

Foundational Dialogs: The Mellon Curricular Transformation Grant Committee has designed a four-part series of dialogs for all departments and programs that submit an Intent to Apply; this series is intended to help units face resistances and build the intellectual and emotional capacity to begin curricular transformation work. It engages departments and programs with the following topics:

  • The examination and questioning of the “historical,” “traditional,” “foundational,” “inherited,” and “colonial” framing of disciplinary content and curricular trajectory. 
  • Consideration of the broader landscape and emerging areas of the discipline to assure that curriculum reflects the field’s current diversity, depth, and breadth.
  • Identification of and engagement with disciplinary experts who can help departments and programs assess their curriculum and chart a path for transformation
  • Identification and assessment of mindsets and attitudes within the academic unit
  • Identification of the experiences of students and any barriers they encounter in the current structure.

Outside Experts with Disciplinary Expertise: The Mellon committee believes that all units can benefit from working with consultants from outside the institution to help them identify and interrogate the functioning of white supremacy in their curricula. To this end, up to $8000 is available to units pre-proposal to engage such experts. This $8000 is separate from the $25,000 available to fund proposals. Your Mellon liaison will help you assess your needs and, if relevant, identify and engage an expert for this work. 

Proposing a Curricular Transformation Plan: Once through the framing curriculum–and with the support of their liaisons and external expertise–academic units will be ready to articulate their plans for curricular reform. Explicitly drawing upon learnings and understandings developed in the foundational dialogs, the units will propose curricular transformation plans. These plans should address: curricular content, structure and sequencing of requirements, and pedagogy. Details of proposal content and structure, in addition to budget guidelines, can be found in an accompanying document.

Plan Implementation: If a department or program’s proposal is funded by the Committee, the unit will begin to implement it over a two to three year period. The exact nature and timing of this work will vary depending on the work proposed. 

Reporting: Throughout the implementation phase and at the end of implementation, departments and programs will be responsible for reporting their progress to Mellon. Academic units/teams will be expected to submit two types of reports: brief progress reports at three-months, six-months, every six-months thereafter, and a final report at the end of the grant period. Liaisons can support units with the reporting process. Teams will be expected to engage with institutional and disciplinary data and participate in faculty development throughout the transformation process, and include that information in regular reports. Teams will be asked to share their experiences with other faculty in a public talk at the conclusion of the grant period.

Communication and Submission: All communication with the Mellon Curricular Transformation Grant Committee should be done through the department or program’s assigned liaisons. Experience has taught the Committee that the development of transformation plans is a process, and providing feedback during plan development is essential; your liaisons will offer this support. As academic units process the foundational workshops with their liaisons, those liaisons will provide the Committee with brief reports. In response, the Committee may, at times, provide feedback to academic units through their liaisons.

Submission of your curricular transformation proposal will be done through your liaisons. 

Proposal Review and Funding Decisions: Within one week of submission, the Mellon Curricular Transformation Grant Committee will acknowledge receipt of department and program proposals and set a date on which they will begin the review of the proposal. Your liaisons will forward your proposal to the Committee, and the Committee will review the plan to ensure that it meets the goals of the larger grant. The review process will take several weeks and will involve the Committee members reading the proposal, scoring it with a rubric developed from the proposal criteria, and discussing it as a full Committee. The liaisons will then communicate the feedback from the Committee, as well as its decision on whether to fund the proposal.


1.Equity is freedom from bias or favoritism. An equity minded approach aims to redress the social and historical context of exclusionary practices in American Higher Education.

Equity vs. Equality: Ideas of equity might be better understood by comparing the concepts of equity and equality. A colleague once said in a diversity meeting, “equality is everyone having shoes, equity is everyone having shoes that fit.” Equity requires hard and intentional work but is the better goal as it looks at all the parts and works to a balanced functional whole where equality is subject to the failings of universal design and application. One size does NOT fit all.

2. Inclusion is a sense of belonging: feeling respected, valued for who you are; feeling a level of supportive energy and commitment from others so that you can do your best work. The process of inclusion engages each individual and makes people feel valued and essential to the success of the organization.

3. White supremacy is the policies and practices that reinforce the idea that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

4. Settler colonialism is a form of colonialism that seeks to replace the original population of the colonized territory with a new society of settlers. Colonialism is the direct occupation, rule and/or exploitation of an area and its people by a foreign power (and/or its local representatives). This involves the development or restructuring of the colonized society for the benefit of the colonizer and at the expense of the colonized. Often, the practice of colonialism involves the relocation of the colonizing population to the colonized territory, where they live while maintaining political and cultural allegiance to their country of origin.