BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a four-year $1 million grant to Indiana University Bloomington to support student and faculty research in the arts and humanities focused on Indiana studies and global popular music. The Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research will provide an additional institutional commitment of $1 million to support the work funded by the grant.
The support will be used to create Platform, a collaborative research laboratory dedicated to contemporary arts and humanities and administered jointly by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Provost. The co-principal investigators for the grant are Jonathan Elmer, professor of English and director of the College Arts and Humanities Institute, and Ed Comentale, professor of English, associate vice provost for arts and humanities, and director of the IU Bloomington Arts and Humanities Council.
Platform will establish faculty-led research teams to explore innovative approaches to contemporary scholarship in two areas of focus: global popular music and Indiana studies -- culture, ideas and community. Elmer said that the structure of Platform reflects emerging strengths among IU faculty researchers, while also promoting the kinds of interdisciplinary, collaborative projects that define public humanities.
"The best humanities scholarship is integrative; it takes the multitude of details and seeks the patterns, the interconnections, that gather the details into a big picture," Elmer said. "With Platform, we have taken this integrative approach everywhere -- bringing researchers and practitioners together from different disciplines, linking teaching and research, and bringing in undergraduate and graduate students into the process of collaboration.
"Our two research teams show the humanities 'thinking big' and engaged in the world -- from the span of global popular music to our own backyard, in Indiana studies. We can't wait to get started."
Comentale said the research generated through Platform will involve students at every level, from freshmen to postdoctoral students. He said these research opportunities will open up new professional pathways for undergraduate and graduate students and highlight the many career choices available to individuals with degrees in the arts and humanities.
"The Platform project incorporates students into the research process," Comentale said. "Through high-impact internships, new curricular formats and innovative media use, students will be empowered to pursue public-facing research with real-world impacts. We hope to help students and staff envision new career possibilities for arts and humanities, with the work of the lab providing clear examples of their beneficial application to multiple professions and social institutions."
Comentale also said that much of the research will involve community members from Bloomington and the Indiana Uplands region in the planning, execution and delivery of public humanities projects on campus and throughout the state as part of Indiana University's recently announced Center for Rural Engagement.
"These scholarly projects will be conceived with an eye to community engagement and development," he said. "Rigorous knowledge production will inform collaborative activities that affirm the public value of the arts and humanities."
The 2015 IU Bloomington Bicentennial Strategic Plan outlined multiple objectives related to the arts and humanities, including making scholarship and creative activity on campus more robustly public-facing and fully integrating the arts and humanities into the educational experiences of students in all academic disciplines. IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel said Platform builds upon current initiatives devoted to these objectives such as the Center for Rural Engagement and the Global Arts and Humanities Festival.
"The creation of Platform marks an exciting collaboration between two outstanding units devoted to IU Bloomington's historic strengths in the arts and humanities," Robel said. "CAHI and the Arts and Humanities Council have championed faculty research and enriched the cultural life of our campus. The support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation offers them exciting opportunities to expand the breadth of expertise on our campus and affirm IU Bloomington's standing as a global leader in the arts and humanities."