UIC wins Mellon grant for social justice series

Social Justice Initiative logoThe University of Illinois at Chicago’s Social Justice Initiative has been awarded a $175,000 Sawyer Seminar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a yearlong seminar series beginning in January.

The Sawyer Seminar operates like a temporary research center for interdisciplinary exchange in the humanities and social sciences, where faculty, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and guest speakers participate in intensive study and public programs.

This is UIC’s first Sawyer Seminar award, which requires an invitation to submit a proposal. The latest round of awards includes 10 other institutions, such as Yale, Tufts, New York and Emory universities.

UIC’s seminar, “Geographies of Justice: A Scholarly and Public Dialogue Series about the Contested Terrain and Meaning of Freedom in the 21st Century World,” will explore the meaning of freedom in three international and social contexts: Palestine/Israel since the 1967 war; apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa; and the U.S. black freedom movement from the 1960s to the present.

Seminar activities will include four meetings, a mini-conference and the development of an interactive website to document the conversations. More than 20 Chicago area scholars and community-based educators, in addition to eight visiting national and international scholars, will take part.

Barbara Ransby

Barbara Ransby, director of the UIC Social Justice Initiative;
Photo: Jenny Fontaine

Barbara Ransby, director of the UIC Social Justice Initiative, is the seminar’s principal investigator and will oversee its development.

UIC is a fitting site for the seminar due to its “critical core of nearly 200 scholars with global research agendas related to social justice, inequality and human rights in various parts of the world,” said Ransby, who is professor of African American studies, gender and women’s studies, and history.

The grant also provides one postdoctoral fellowship and two dissertation fellowships. Applications and details will be available via the Social Justice Initiative website. Recipients will be announced in late summer or early fall.

UIC’s proposal was developed through a collaboration of 12 faculty representing four colleges.

The Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminars were established in 1994 to provide support for comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments.

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