Colby receives grant from the Mellon Foundation

Colby recently received an $800,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development of a campus-wide multidisciplinary initiative in environmental humanities.

Founded in 1969, according to their website (, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to “strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.”

The foundation makes grants in five core program areas: higher education and scholarship in the humanities, arts and cultural heritage, diversity, scholarly communications, and international higher education and strategic projects. The most recent grant has fallen under the area of higher education and scholarship in the humanities

Across the globe, the foundation has given over 15,379 grants, totaling over $5.93 billion. This isn’t the first time the College has received a grant from the Mellon Foundation. Since the foundation’s inception in 1969, the College has received over $7.5 million, the first grant was $200,000 in 1971, to support a project titled “faculty support.” Most recently, the College received $100,000 for a project titled “New Presidents,” according to Other projects have included grants to the art museum and art curriculum, environmental studies, foreign language teaching and technology, the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs & Civic Engagement, institutional planning, and study abroad consortium.

According to the Mellon Foundation website, applying for a grant is not a walk in the park. Draft proposals must contain over four documents including a cover letter, endorsement letter, proposal narrative, and budget narritive.
This award will allow faculty and students in Colby’s arts and humanities programs to bring the perspectives of their disciplines to environmental topics in new ways, in partnership with the College’s already well-known Environmental Studies Program.
In a recent Colby press release, President David A. Greene was quoted saying, “in the years ahead humanities at Colby will play a crucial role in an expanded effort to study the environment and human responses to environmental change. We will be investing in faculty and students in the humanistic disciplines to bring a range of perspectives — artistic, cultural, ethical, historical, and literary — to environmental topics.”

Colby’s interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program has a strong focus on the natural and social sciences and is one of the nation’s oldest programs of its kind. It has grown significantly over time and is now the fourth largest major on campus. The program has focused on pressing global issues, tying academic training with field research and partnering with preeminent institutions, including the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences.

The new initiative will allow Colby to bring the strengths of the College’s arts and humanities programs to bear on these pressing issues as well. Colby scholars — both scientists and humanists — will collaborate on innovative solutions to global environmental challenges, connecting the liberal arts to the world.

Also in a recent press release about the grant, Colby Provost and Dean of the Faculty Lori G. Kletzer was quoted saying that “scientific data alone has not changed human behavior. A strong environmental humanities program will prepare Colby students to join the next generation of leaders who are tackling global environmental questions.”

Leave a Reply