Klingler College of Arts and Sciences receives $1 million Humanities Without Walls Award

The Klingler College of Arts and Sciences has been awarded a grant of just over $1 million from Humanities Without Walls.

Humanities Without Walls (HWW), funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is a consortium based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Humanities Research Institute that fosters collaborative research and explores the contributions of humanities in the world.

Marquette’s award totaling $1.3 million over the course of five years is a subaward of HWW’s recent $5 million renewal grant from the Mellon Foundation. Through the renewal, Marquette is now one of 16 HWW consortium members. Marquette is the first university invited to join the consortium since its inception in 2014.

The consortium brings together scholars from Midwest universities and beyond for collaborative and interdisciplinary humanities research projects examining grand societal challenges, all while charting new career pathways for doctoral students in the humanities.

Dr. Heidi Bostic, dean of the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, said the HWW grant opens a world of opportunity for Marquette’s humanities programs, encouraging graduate students to think creatively about the future and welcoming dynamic projects to help solve problems.

“Sometimes there is an assumption that various serious challenges we face in the world — the coronavirus pandemic, new technologies, racial disparities, or disruptions in the nitrogen or phosphorous cycle of the earth — are simply technical or scientific issues,” Bostic said. “Yet, we know at the heart of all of these challenges lie the basic questions of who we are and how we should live. For that reason, the humanities and broad liberal arts are crucial to addressing grand challenges.”

Marquette’s grant will support the employment of an associate director of career diversity through 2025 — a position that will work with HWW in guiding one of the consortium’s key initiatives of promoting diversity in the humanities. Doctoral candidate in history Margaret Nettesheim Hoffmann, one of the co-principal investigators on the grant, played an essential role in Marquette receiving the grant and becoming a consortium member.

“Our project and the mission of this grant prioritizes graduate student agency in the construction of their careers while providing students with the tools necessary to develop meaningful professional lives after graduate school,” Nettesheim Hoffmann said. “Marquette’s inclusion within the consortium highlights the importance of the Jesuit value of discernment in doctorate training especially as we guide graduate students to understand the ways meaning, reflection and purpose can influence the work they conduct in the world.”

Dr. Theresa Tobin, associate professor of philosophy, and Dr. Timothy McMahon, associate professor of history, join Nettesheim Hoffmann as co-principal investigators of the HWW subaward.

Dr. Douglas Woods, vice provost for graduate and professional education and dean of the Graduate School, said Marquette’s involvement with HWW strengthens the university’s commitment to the humanities, and better prepares graduate humanities students to heed St. Ignatius’ call to “go forth and set the world on fire.”

“Graduate work in the humanities, particularly from the Catholic, Jesuit tradition, has never been more important as society wrestles with understanding and thriving in today’s evolving landscapes,” Woods added.

Through the consortium, Marquette humanities faculty are eligible to apply for HWW’s Grand Research Challenge grants which can award up to $150,000 to interdisciplinary teams supporting humanities research projects. Marquette’s Center for the Advancement of the Humanities will provide support as Marquette faculty develop proposals for the HWW Grand Research Challenge applications.

“The Humanities Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is delighted to welcome Marquette University to the Humanities Without Walls consortium,” said Dr. Antoinette Burton, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Swanlund Professor of History and Director of the Humanities Research Institute principal investigator of Humanities Without Walls. “Over the last two years, Marquette has emerged as a regional and national leader in reimagining the purpose of humanities Ph.D. outcomes and in designing innovative career diversity programming. We look forward to working together as we continue to reimagine what the humanities should look like in the Midwest, the nation and the world in the 21st century.”

In addition to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Marquette, as a consortium member, joins partner universities in the Big Ten Academic Alliance, the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Notre Dame.