Claflin University Receives More than $1.4 Million From the Mellon Foundation’s “Humanities for All Times” Initiative to Establish Humanities Hub

Jan 26, 2024

Mellon Foundation Surpasses $30 Million in Funding to Liberal Arts Colleges for Social Justice-Oriented Curricular Development

The Mellon Foundation announced today that Claflin University was awarded $1,489,000 to establish a Humanities Hub that will focus on place-based collaborations, embedding social justice content in the general education curriculum, and community-participatory research. Claflin’s Humanities Hub will promote race/gender equity, environmental justice, and community well-being. The approach centers on recruiting and nurturing students in the humanities as scholar-activists committed to cultural preservation, solutions-oriented research, and visionary leadership.

Claflin was one of 10 liberal arts colleges/universities that received grants totaling more than $14 million as part of  Humanities for All Times, a Mellon Foundation humanities-based education initiative supporting newly developed curricula that both instruct future visionaries and the next generation of social justice leaders in methods of humanities practice and demonstrate those methods’ relevance to broader social justice pursuits. The Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest funder of the arts, culture, and humanities.

Dr. Alison Gise Johnson-photo-final“Historically and contemporarily, communities and society have benefited from college-age students who have served at the forefront of movements for social justice and systemic change. These students convened, collaborated, organized, and implemented student-led teach-ins and social justice actions despite local political pushback and threats of violence. “The Claflin University Humanities Hub (The CU Hub) is our investment in this legacy,” said Dr. Alison Gise Johnson, associate professor of philosophy in the Department of Humanities at Claflin University. Johnson and Dr. Isaiah McGee, associate professor of music and dean of Claflin’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences are the project’s co-principal investigators.

Founded in 1869, Claflin is the oldest Historically Black College in South Carolina. It was the first college/university in South Carolina to admit all students regardless of gender, ethnic origin, race, or religion.  U.S. News and World Report has ranked Claflin as a Top 10 Best HBCU for 13 consecutive years.

“The objective of Humanities for All Times is two-fold,” says Phillip Brian Harper, program director for Higher Learning at the Mellon Foundation. “On the one hand, it is meant to make students aware of the concrete, practical skills they can develop through humanities study. On the other, it aims to help students recognize that imagination, one of the primary foci of humanities inquiry, is essential to effective social justice work.”

Initially launched in 2021 as a $16 million initiative, Humanities for All Times awarded grants to its first cohort of twelve liberal arts colleges across the US that same year. The initiative aims to demonstrate the power of the humanities in addressing societal challenges and to ensure that students acquire the skills to diagnose the cultural conditions hindering the achievement of a fully just and equitable society while also identifying the steps necessary for change.

Of the fifty liberal arts colleges/universities invited to submit proposals for this second cohort, 10 institutions were selected to receive a grant of up to $1.5 million to be used over a three-year period to support the envisioned curricular projects and help students see and experience the applicability of humanities in their real-world social justice objectives. 

Section Navigation
Support the next generation of Claflin Leaders
Your support provides educational enrichment through student scholarships, loan funds, instructional classroom equipment, preparing Claflin's students to be leaders of the future.