Rutgers Receives $15M Grant from Mellon Foundation for Study of Global Racial Justice

New institute will span Rutgers campuses and apply humanistic perspectives

Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway

Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway today announced the receipt of a five-year $15 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the establishment of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

The establishment of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice marks a new direction among higher education institutions by using humanistic theories, methods and approaches to study global issues of race and social justice. The institute will span the entire university and will include centers at Rutgers’ campuses in Newark, New Brunswick and Camden.

Aligning with the Mellon Foundation’s humanistic orientation, the institute will support and amplify the scholarship of researchers who are based in the humanities or lean on humanistic methods and whose work has consequences in areas such as policy reform, K-12 education, social justice work, and the carceral state.

“The nation is at a tipping point with respect to racial and social justice. This grant will enable Rutgers, an institution older than the country itself, to be an international leader in understanding the causes, effects and solutions to problems that have plagued the world,” President Holloway said.

The institute will provide opportunities for Rutgers faculty whose work addresses racism and social inequality to work in coordinated ways that lead to meaningful action. “It will bring together scholars from all disciplines so that the product of their work can help to inform real-world decisions about solutions to the problems that have, at long last, been thrust into sharp focus in this country and around the globe,” Holloway added.

“Rutgers University has long been a home to distinguished scholarship in race and the humanities. We at Mellon are elated to support this truly new, interdisciplinary institute that seeks to resolve global racism and injustice through the power of humanistic inquiry,” said Andrew W. Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. “We believe in the deeply meaningful work these Rutgers scholars will undertake together, and we are proud to fund the humanities-driven exploration that will inspire even more researchers and institutions to join in this extraordinary new academic endeavor.”

The grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation reflects an endorsement of the depth of scholarship, the values and the vision at Rutgers, Holloway said. “I fully expect that this initial funding will be supplemented by philanthropy from individuals and foundations who share Rutgers’ commitment to understanding, confronting and addressing global racial and social inequity and injustice,” he added.

“Racism and social inequities are enduring and pervasive throughout societies, certainly our own,” said Michelle Stephens, dean of Humanities at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “The hope here is that by drawing upon expertise across all fields of the humanities, from law to language, from philosophy to history and gender studies, the institute will stand at the forefront in helping to inform policies to confront and address global inequity, injustice, racism and intolerance, but also through artistic and cultural endeavors that encourage imaginative solutions for influencing public opinion and inspiring cultural transformations.”

Stephens, who submitted the grant application on behalf of the university, will serve as the founding director of the institute. The institute will be overseen by the university’s executive vice president for Academic Affairs, Prabhas Moghe.

The institute will include a collection of named professorships linked to the mission of the institute and postdoctoral fellows from disciplines throughout the university.


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