Southwestern University is pleased to announce that it has been selected as one of ten liberal arts colleges to receive a substantial grant from the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities for All Times initiative. As the nation’s largest funder of the arts, culture, and humanities, the Mellon Foundation has allocated over $14 million to support developing social justice-oriented humanities curriculum in the second cohort of institutions.

Southwestern will receive a grant of $1,287,000 for Deepening the Heart of Texas: Public-Engaged Humanities for Social Justice. As the first college in Texas and a private Hispanic-Serving Institution, the University aims to work through the humanities to directly confront the racism and hate that have roiled its region, state, and country. This project would foreground difference and social justice themes and center public-facing humanistic methods and sources across campus; add new community-engaged learning and undergraduate research classes in the Humanities; increase summer undergraduate PEH research opportunities in the Humanities, humanistic Social Sciences, and humanistic Fine Arts; and rethink tenure and promotion guidelines to reward faculty PEH work.

“I am simply delighted by this grant and so energized as I think about the potential it holds. What Mellon has given us will bolster the truly incredible work already being done on our campus when it comes to teaching, researching, and disseminating projects in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Fine Arts and in looking beyond the confines of the University in all fields—to support it, with vital expertise, time, and money, to make it even better,” Associate Dean of the Faculty & Associate Professor of History Jessica Hower said. “With an eye towards the ideas, sources, and approaches traditionally used in the Humanities and humanities-related fields and to turning everything outwards, the grant will allow us to strengthen course offerings, grow faculty-mentored research, and center social justice concerns that transcend discipline and SU by funding faculty development workshops, the initiatives that come out of those programs, short- and long-term collaboration with outside experts and community partners, visiting fellows as scholars/activists-in-residence, and so much more.”

The Humanities for All Times initiative was initially launched in 2021 with over $16 million in funding for 12 liberal arts colleges across the country that same year, aiming to equip future visionaries and social justice leaders with the tools provided by humanities-based education. This initiative supports the creation of an innovative curriculum that instructs students in humanities practices and demonstrates the relevance of these methodologies to broader social justice pursuits. Of the 50 liberal arts colleges invited to submit proposals for the second cohort, Southwestern stands out as a beacon of commitment to social justice through the humanities. The grant will be utilized over three years and will support the implementation of the envisioned curricular projects and allow students to experience applying the humanities to real-world social justice objectives.

The Mellon Foundation is the nation’s most prominent supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through its grants, the Mellon Foundation seeks to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.