Mellon Grant to Establish IU Humanities Lab

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Jonathan Elmer is a co-principal investigator for the grant. (photo courtesy IU) Jonathan Elmer is a co-principal investigator for the grant. (photo courtesy IU)

Indiana University says it will use a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create a collaborative research laboratory dedicated to contemporary arts and humanities. Known as Platform, the lab will have a focus on global popular music and Indiana studies. 

The grant is being matched by the IU Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. Jonathan Elmer, director of the College Arts and Humanities Institute at IU and co-principal investigator for the grant, says Platform will promote 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," said Elmer. "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."

IU says students at every level, from freshmen to postdoctoral students, will be involved in the research generated through Platform. Ed Comentale, professor of English and director of the IU Bloomington Arts and Humanities Council, says much of the research will also involved members of the community.

"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."

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