Taking Stock of Mellon Grant Successes and Goals

Last month, leadership from the Centering Race Consortium (CRC) gathered at Brown to discuss their goals related to the execution of the shared $4M Andrew Mellon Foundation Grant. In 2019, four Centers from Yale University, University of Chicago, Stanford University, and Brown University received this grant to promote the study of race in the arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences. Each year, leadership from the Centers meet to discuss the overarching grant goals, take stock of collaborative events, and propose future opportunities and initiatives.

During this grant period, the Consortium has committed to progress in four main areas: faculty support, curricular innovation and sharing, public engagement, and multi-university collaboration. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the consortium has been successful in executing many of its initial goals. 

On Brown’s campus, Mellon funding has allowed CSREA to expand its reach and carry out its mission


Grant Year 1 - 2020
In the inaugural year of the Mellon grant, the novel coronavirus pandemic impacted the centers’ abilities to hold in-person events and programming. Like the rest of the world, CSREA had to make the transition to online programming. 

Despite the pandemic, the CRC was able to launch Monuments, Murals, & Movements: Reimagining the Art of Social Justice, a collaborative virtual event with co-grantee schools featuring Crystal Feimster (Yale University), Daniel Magaziner (Yale University), Renee Ater (Brown University), and Juliet Hooker (Brown University). The center also launched the Imagining Social Justice art exhibit “Transcendent Futures,” a virtual multi-media collection of art that explores hope, connection, and community, as we collectively strive to build a more just and peaceful world. 

In this first year, CSREA awarded a total of ten fellowships and grants, including two Brown Faculty Fellowships, 7 Practitioner Fellowships, and one Course Innovation Grant. 

Grant Year 2 - 2021
Still faced with the need for virtual programming, CSREA further expanded its reach during its second year of Mellon funding. Digital events allowed the Center to connect with a larger, more geographically diverse audience and award more fellowships to artists and scholars across the country. Through 19 fellowships and grants totaling over $100,000, CSREA was able to help fund a range of important projects, including academic research, course development, and literary and visual artwork. 

In April, we held a two-day virtual symposium with our Centering Race Consortium partners titled, “Racial Reckonings & the Future of the Humanities,” which included three events: “Race and the Transformation of Disciplines Faculty Roundtable,” “Institutionalizing Critical Race Studies Directors’ Roundtable,” and the Closing Plenary with a performance by Reginald Dwayne Betts, followed by a conversation with Eve Ewing. In June, CSREA convened “Centering Race in the Humanities: Legacies, Interruptions, and Futures,” a virtual event co-sponsored by Brown University’s Cogut Institute of the Humanities, which addressed the ways in which humanities research and institutions have failed to center race, and the rippling consequences of that omission.


Grant Year 3 - 2022
As we progress into year three of the Mellon grant, CSREA continues to develop new initiatives in both the virtual and in-person space. 

In 2022, Mellon funding supported Writing for a Broken World, a signature event that features widely known contemporary novelists, poets, playwrights, or other literary artists engaged in dialogue about race, ethnicity, and indigeneity. In March, award-winning fantasy author Nnedi Okorafor visited to speak about her work and her hopes for its role in the world. Through special partnerships with the Providence Public Library and the Brown Bookstore, free copies of Okorafor’s blockbuster Binti series were distributed to teen reading groups, students, and families.

This spring, CSREA had the pleasure of working with 7 Practitioner Fellows. This group included artists from the visual, literary, and mixed media fields. The semester culminated with the first ever in-person Practitioner’s Capstone event titled “Reflection, Resonance & Renewal,” that convened artistic practitioner fellows from each of the Centering Race Consortium schools. The weekend featured artist Toby Sisson and writer Matthew Shenoda as Keynote speakers, and facilitated space for participants to engage with each other on issues related to race and the arts. 

In the coming academic year, CSREA is looking forward to a return to increased in-person programming and welcoming a new cohort of talented researchers and practitioners to Lippit House. To stay up to date with all of CSREA's programming and initiatives, we welcome you to stay in touch with us via our newsletter.