Success of minority studies program wins $630,000 renewal of Mellon grant

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The Future of Minority Studies (FMS) Summer Institute has received a three-year, $630,000 renewal grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

FMS mentors junior minority scholars (untenured faculty, graduate students and recent Ph.D.s) and those working in minority studies by involving them in ongoing research. The program produces new scholarship and better-trained academics by emphasizing collaborative research and inquiry.

"Over the next 10 to 15 years, FMS can significantly transform the field of minority studies and diversify the academy culturally and intellectually," said Cornell professor of English Satya P. Mohanty, director of the summer institute. "At a time when many colleges and universities provide, in effect, a revolving door for minority faculty and those working in minority studies, organizations like FMS seek to create a larger pool of academics who do valuable research and go on to thrive in the academy, instead of trying to merely survive in it."

The Mellon grant will fund the creation of a "hub" of regional programming for historically black colleges and universities at Spelman College and create two mentoring-publication postdoctoral fellowships for faculty.

FMS holds an annual two-week institute (seminar and colloquium). The 2005 summer institute was held at Cornell with 18 junior scholars; the 2006 institute moved to Stanford University and included 12 junior scholars. This year the institute returned to Cornell.

"The FMS summer colloquium was among the most impressive academic conferences I've ever attended," said Richard N. Boyd, the Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy at Cornell. "There was a very high level of intellectual seriousness: People from different disciplines and backgrounds had serious, sustained conversations, many of which were clearly going to continue beyond the conference. I'm sure that this intellectual seriousness was occasioned in large part by the moral and political seriousness of the participants. It was wonderful to see how the intellectual interests of participants were systematically related to their moral concerns, both about the oppression of minority populations and about the effects of racism, sexism and similar ideologies on societies as a whole."

Three classes of FMS-Mellon fellows have graduated. The core group of seminar participants and leaders includes more than 300 junior and senior scholars from more than 80 campuses across the country and abroad. The program will draw on this pool for researchers and mentors.

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