Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards $208,000 grant to Center for Ideas and Society

By on October 10, 2014

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – UC Riverside’s Center for Ideas and Society has been awarded a $208,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a two-year series of seminars exploring diversity at UCR and in Southern California.

The seminar series – “Advancing Intercultural Studies” – will examine changing perceptions of ethnic, cultural and cosmopolitan identities, the practices of immigrant religions and developments in civic and political engagement, said Georgia Warnke, distinguished professor of political science and director of the center.

As one of the most diverse public research universities in the country, UCR is uniquely positioned to explore questions about the benefits and challenges of diversity, she said, among them, “how do we capture the contributions of a diverse student population, and how do we enhance learning from that?”

Because of UCR’s undergraduate demographics – 42 percent are under-represented minorities – the inclusion of undergraduate and graduate students in the seminars is important in its creation of a pipeline to increase the diversity of American university and college faculty, Warnke said.

Georgia Warnke

“The seminars of ‘Advancing Intercultural Studies’would help prepare UCR undergraduates for the sort of work they will do in graduate school by offering them the opportunity to interact with faculty and graduate students as equal partners in a scholarly inquiry while, at the same time, providing mentorship support for their research endeavors,” she explained.

“And, as colleges and universities in the 21st century come to mirror the diversity of UCR, it will be critical that future faculty participate in developing multi-cultural and multi-ethnic ways of thinking, researching and teaching.”

The first of four quarterly seminars will begin meeting in January. Each seminar will be composed of four faculty members, and four graduate and four undergraduate students, each of whom will write a paper based on research produced during the quarter. The seminars are not open to the public, but a concluding conference in spring 2016 will be held at UCR’s Culver Center in downtown Riverside and will be a public event.
Seminar topics are:

  • “Beyond Diversity: Are We There Yet?” – This seminar examines the contours, challenges and opportunities of UCR’s diversity. Through student surveys, interviews, focus group discussions and the insights of student participants, the seminar will explore the ways in which diversity continues to change UCR in creating new forms of research and teaching. Winter 2015.
  • “The Public Practice of Immigrant and Minority Religions in Southern California” – Focusing on expressions of religious hybridity and the politics of cultural appropriation, this seminar will examine how diverse minority and immigrant communities in the multi-ethnic urban context of Southern California inhabit, claim and contest sacred and cultural spaces. Spring 2015.
  • “Civic and Political Engagement” – Historically, immigrants along with Native Americans and African Americans have had a difficult time exercising the idea of citizens as democratic participants. This seminar explores the question of what it means to be an American in terms of the civic and political participation of immigrant communities and minority citizens. Fall 2015.
  • “Migration, Displacement and Movement” – This seminar adopts the perspective of the person on the move and takes advantage of the number of scholars and students at UCR in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Mediterranean Studies, social history and economic theory. Winter 2016.
  • Conference – A two-day, culminating event at the Culver Center will be held in conjunction with the Department of Art’s annual Senior Show.

The New York-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation makes grants in five core program areas: Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities; Arts and Cultural Heritage; Scholarly Communications; Diversity; and International Higher Education and Strategic Projects.

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