Mellon Curricular Transformation Grants


Mellon Curricular Transformation 

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 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 four steps:

  1. Participating in Foundational Dialogues (administered through the Dean of the Faculty’s Office)
  2. Proposing a Curricular Transformation Plan
  3. Implementing the plan
  4. Reporting

An ad hoc faculty committee, the Mellon committee, oversees the curricular transformation work in collaboration with the Dean of the Faculty’s Office.

Foundational Dialogues: Through foundational dialogues, departments and programs will interrogate issues of race, power, privilege, white supremacy, and colonialism as they relate to the academic unit’s curricula and pedagogies. These engagements will involve at least a day’s worth of work (8 hours) for departments and programs with a disciplinary expert while addressing one or more of the following topics, according to the needs of the unit:

  • Begin examining the “historical,” “traditional,” “foundational,” “inherited,” or “colonial” framing of disciplinary content and curricular trajectory. 
  • Discuss predominating mindsets and attitudes within the academic unit and how those relate to the academic unit’s curricula and pedagogies.  
  • Discuss the experiences of students and barriers they encounter in the current structure of the curriculum (including policies and practices within the unit).

For more information, see the program page on the Dean of the Faculty’s website.

Proposing a Curricular Transformation Plan: Once they have completed their foundational dialogue, we hope that academic units, explicitly drawing upon learnings and understandings developed through the foundational dialogue, will pursue curricular transformation plans. If a unit chooses to do so, it should submit its curricular transformation plan to the Mellon Committee. 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 the linked page.

Plan Implementation: With the support of the Mellon committee, units will work on their curricular transformation plans. 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 the Mellon Committee. This is a requirement for Bates in its relationship with Mellon. Academic units/teams will be expected to submit a final report at the end of the grant period. Teams may be asked to share their experiences with other faculty in a public talk at the conclusion of the grant period.

Communication and Submission: Experience has taught the Committee that the development of transformation plans is a process. If a unit desires, the committee is available to provide feedback on their draft plan. 

Submission of your curricular transformation plan should be done through this webform

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 provide feedback on a unit’s plan related to the goals of the larger grant. This process could take up to several weeks.


  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.