Humanities for All Times

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Read our story: "Five Ways Mellon and Liberal Arts Colleges Are Driving Social Change" 

See also our press release and an op-ed by Phillip Brian Harper in Hechinger Report

Today’s humanities undergrads are tomorrow’s social justice leaders. 

From history and religion to philosophy and African American studies, the humanities broadly influence our social systems. Although around 90% of Americans believe the humanities help people understand others whose lives are different from their own, the last decade has seen a sharp decline in undergraduate humanities study and degree receipt. 

At Mellon, we believe a humanities-based education provides tools for future visionaries and the next generation of social justice leaders. The Humanities for All Times initiative supports the power of the humanities—not just to improve the quality of students’ lives, but to drive distinctive analytical projects that enable learners to diagnose and act on the hindrances to our achieving a fully just society. 

Launched in 2021 as a $16 million-plus initiative, Humanities for All Times supports the development of new humanities-based curricular and community projects at 12 liberal arts colleges across the US—and possibly at additional schools in future years. The projects connect liberal arts education directly to students’ real-world commitments to social justice and civic and community engagement, whether by pairing classroom study with work beyond the institution, or by developing curricula in partnership with community-based organizations. Taken together, the projects strengthen the humanities overall by engaging more students in humanities coursework.   

Humanities for All Times affords liberal arts colleges the opportunity to redefine their relevance as sites of innovative teaching, ideas, and community engagement, thereby attracting students who are committed to social change and seek diverse and dynamic learning environments.