Jan. 24, 2019
NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has received a $360,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a public humanities initiative to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion through community engagement, experiential learning opportunities, and a summer institute.

According to Lisa Donovan, Ph.D., the grant’s principal investigator, the arts can play a powerful role in exploring multiple perspectives, creating space for dialogue and building community.

“This grant provides us a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary scholarship and dialogue while deepening connections with area arts and humanities organizations to advance conversations and implement strategies to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion, on campus and off,” Donovan said.

For this initiative, the College will facilitate collaborative campus, community, regional, and national events for faculty, students and community participants. In addition, MCLA will launch the “Institute for the Arts and Humanities,” this summer, which will serve as an interdisciplinary catalyst to investigate and address contemporary and historical issues on campus and in the community through engagement with area arts and humanities resources.

In what will be an annual, signature event, MCLA’s Institute for Arts and Humanities Summer Symposium will forge connections among arts and humanities resources, MCLA faculty, and visiting scholars to impact future course designs and student opportunities.

“This public humanities initiative will be an important new addition to our growing portfolio of programs as the campus continues to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Emily Williams, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs. “We are pleased and proud that that The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has recognized the College’s work and accomplishments with this prestigious grant award.”

Funding from the grant will cover faculty fellowships, student mini-grants, and a speaker series with an emphasis of building capacity for valuing, increasing and sustaining diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. A summer symposium will focus on bringing an expanded audience to Berkshire County to share emerging models using arts and humanities to serve as a catalyst for increasing diversity, equity and inclusion. A season preview featuring area arts and humanities offerings will be held each semester to foster the development of curricular connections with area assets.

This summer, MCLA will hold its inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference in the Berkshires. The Institute for the Arts and Humanities will be launched on the
second day of the conference, which will be held June 11-4 and feature world-renowned activist, commentator, educator, poet, and writer Nikki Giovanni as the keynote speaker.

This latest Mellon grant follows a $50,000 award to MCLA in 2017. That funding allowed the College to explore curricular connections to regional collaborations and extend best emerging humanities practices in teaching, learning, and community engagement by utilizing new and deeper ways to connect resources in the area.

Donovan also served as the principal investigator for the $50,000 grant, which allowed exploration, engagement with faculty, students and area arts and humanities organizations through a humanities fellowship program leading to the development of the current proposal to launch an Institute for Arts and Humanities.

For more information on MCLA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conferences in the Berkshires, go to

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

For more information, go to