Mellon Public Scholars Fellowships for UCD Graduate Students


Mellon Public Scholars Fellowships

Deadline: Monday, January 4th, 2016

Sponsored by: UC Davis Humanities Institute

Only Graduate Students are eligible for this grant, fellowship, or residency.

The UC Davis Humanities Institute invites applications for the first cohort of Mellon Public Scholars. This program is aimed at introducing graduate students to the intellectual and practical aspects of identifying, addressing, and collaborating with members of a public through their scholarship. Ten successful graduate student applicants will participate in a quarter-long, two credit seminar in spring 2016. Each student will be matched with a faculty mentor to develop a community-based research project, and will receive a $7,500 stipend to support the project over that summer. Also intended to support faculty and their community-engaged research, the Mellon Public Scholars Program will award each faculty mentor $2,000 in research funds for providing guidance and consultation to students developing community-based projects.

There is no expectation that fellows will have a fully developed project or a community partner and faculty mentor at the time of application. Rather, the program will assist students in such an endeavor, helping them to broaden their scholarship both beyond the university and within it, developing relationships with faculty outside of their discipline.

To answer questions and provide more details about the program, the Humanities Institute will host two information sessions: Wednesday, Nov. 4, 12:10 p. m. and Thursday, Nov. 12, 4:10 p. m. in Voorhies 228 (DHI’s conference room). We encourage both faculty and students interested in the program to attend. Lunch and snacks provided. Please RSVP to Rachel Reeves (rlreeves).


We welcome doctoral students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences at any stage in their graduate training. Although priority may be given to those who are post-candidacy, anyone with an interest in public humanities is encouraged to apply, whether or not that interest is obvious in their dissertation research.

Application Guidelines

1. CV: No longer than 2 pages, includes academic accomplishments, contact information, academic department, advisor’s name, and projected date of graduation.

2. Letter of intent: No longer than 2 pages, addresses the following: How do you see this experience enriching or expanding your graduate training? How do your background and experiences relate to your interest in public scholarship? Describe a project (at any stage of development) that engages the public, draws on your scholarly or creative skillsets, and has an end product. If you have spoken to a faculty member about your project, feel free to list them by name. You might draw inspiration from the sample projects below.


To submit your proposal online, please go to rlreeves) with any questions.


Community Partner: Yolo County Food Bank

Project Title: Hidden Hunger

Description: The Mellon Public Scholar will design and implement a data collection method to assess the gaps in Yolo County’s emergency food system. The goal of this project is to identify populations and areas within the county not receiving/accessing food assistance resources. Additionally, this project will identify barriers that prevent food-insecure residents from accessing services (e.g., scheduling conflicts, transportation, stigma, lack of awareness).

Project Title II: Food Translator

Description: The Yolo Food Bank has seen a greater variety of fruits and vegetables over the last few years make its way through the Food Bank. Not surprisingly, many clients are reluctant to accept food they have never seen before and don’t know how to prepare. This project is ripe for a Mellon Public Scholar who could help Yolo Food Bank overcome this barrier by identifying and implementing strategies to encourage clients to accept and prepare something that may be new to them.

Community Partner: California Energy Commission

Project Title: Social and Institutional Barriers to Energy Efficiency

Description: This project seeks creative, human-centered solutions to climate change, long the exclusive province of engineers and biochemical scientists. The Public Scholar could approach barriers to adaptation in a number of ways, including but not limited to: engaging citizen science to promote climate mitigation in the energy sector; comparing acceptance of climate scenarios across California and the nation; developing innovative ways to build resilience to climate change impacts in the most vulnerable communities.

Community Partner: Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods

Project Title: Pond Farm Pottery Oral History Project

Description: Founded in Guerneville, California, in the 1930s, Pond Farm was an artist colony whose faculty was composed primarily of artisans fleeing Nazi Germany, including Marguerite Wildenhain, a graduate of the Bauhaus who became master potter at the site. In 2014, Pond Farm was added to the National Registry of Historic Places and is in need of renovation and rehabilitation. The Mellon Public Scholar will contribute to this restoration project by designing and implementing an oral history project to document Pond Farm’s rich artistic and social legacy.

Community Partner: Baltimore and UC Davis Communities

Project Title: The Freddie Gray Project

Description: This project combines anthropological research methods and playwriting techniques to promote deep conversations about race. The Public Scholar will collect interviews with the friends and neighbours of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore police, and political, religious, and community leaders. The text of these interviews will be presented to the UC Davis and Baltimore communities as a theater piece and serve as the basis for a dialogue about contextualization, representation, and race.

For more examples of similar community-based projects, see:

For more information, please contact: Program Manager Rachel Reeves (rlreeves) with any questions.

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