$2.265 Million Mellon Foundation Grant Goes to The Graduate Center, CUNY to Transform Doctoral Education

Media contact: Tanya Domi, tdomi@gc.cuny.edu, 212-817-7283

$2.265 Million Mellon Foundation Grant Goes to The Graduate Center, CUNY to Transform Doctoral Education

The Graduate Center intends to create a new model for preparing humanities Ph.D. students for diverse careers and ways to serve the public

NEW YORK, April 12, 2018 — With a five-year, $2.265 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Graduate Center of The City University of New York is embarking on a comprehensive plan to transform doctoral education in the humanities. The Graduate Center intends to establish a new approach to humanities Ph.D. education — one that prepares and strengthens students for careers in the academy and beyond and encourages them to produce and share scholarship that contributes to the public good.

“We are thrilled that the Mellon Foundation is supporting our ambitious initiative to transform doctoral education for the public good,” said Joy Connolly, Graduate Center senior vice president and provost. “This grant arises from one deep belief and one aspiration. First, we believe that a strong doctoral education prepares students for careers both within and outside academe. Second, we want to place the goals of creating and circulating knowledge for the public good at the center of the way we teach and mentor doctoral students. We look forward with excitement to making our doctoral curricula more responsive to the diverse needs and hopes of our students — and of integrating their training and research into the public domain.” 

Early intervention is a core part of The Graduate Center’s reform plan. The Graduate Center will select 12 first-year Ph.D. students to be Mellon Public Fellows who will be trained for a variety of careers and will pursue internships and other nonteaching activities as a central part of their doctoral education.

A select group of faculty will mentor the public fellows, advising them on integrating academic training and career preparation and acquiring skills, for example, in digitization and data analysis. Faculty and students will participate in an annual Mellon seminar designed to guide the initiative and stimulate conversation on “reforming” the humanities.

The Graduate Center is establishing a PublicsLab to coordinate and expand the reach of the project. In partnership with The Graduate Center’s humanities and humanistic social science programs, the PublicsLab will host activities to spur public engagement and curricular change. The lab will become a communal site connecting students’ academic work and public-facing scholarship, and it will serve as a home of sorts for the Mellon Humanities Public Fellows.

The PublicsLab will also host programs designed to increase students’ exposure to diverse careers paths. To catalyze a culture shift, the PublicsLab will invite professionals with Ph.D.s to teach and mentor students and offer faculty new ways to design and nuance doctoral training so that it prepares students for a variety of careers. Each year, two humanities Ph.D. students will be selected to pursue paid, one-semester external internships as an integral part of their doctoral training. 

In the final two years of the grant, The Graduate Center will select two Career Postdocs from doctoral students who have participated in PublicsLab courses and events. The Career Postdocs will receive one year of funding for creative and scholarly projects that build career experience and expand their opportunities for employment.

The Graduate Center will share news and ideas about transforming doctoral education through a visually rich PublicsLab website as well as op-eds, blogs, white papers, and multimedia productions. 

To learn more about The Graduate Center’s Mellon Foundation grant to transform doctoral education listen to Provost Joy Connolly discuss its details on the Thought Project podcast here.

For media inquiries, please contact Tanya Domi, tdomi@gc.cuny.edu, 212-817-7283.

About The Graduate Center
The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) is a leader in public graduate education devoted to enhancing the public good through pioneering research, serious learning, and reasoned debate. The Graduate Center offers ambitious students more than 40 doctoral and master’s programs of the highest caliber, taught by top faculty from throughout CUNY — the world’s largest public urban university. Through its nearly 40 centers, institutes, and initiatives, including its Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), The Graduate Center influences public policy and discourse and shapes innovation. The Graduate Center’s extensive public programs make it a home for culture and conversation.


Submitted on: APR 12, 2018

Category: General GC News | Giving | Press Room | Strategic Plan