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Bard College Awarded $800,000 From Andrew W. Mellon Foundation To Support Experimental Humanities

Mark Primoff
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.––Bard College has been awarded an $800,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the College’s Experimental Humanities initiative. Now in its second year, Experimental Humanities is Bard’s forward-thinking response to the new technological realities facing higher education and the liberal arts. Drawing upon contemporary digital tools and the rich traditions of humanities inquiry, Experimental Humanities is committed to the study of how technologies mediate our understanding of what it means to be human. A concentration in Experimental Humanities provides students with the historical context, theoretical background, and analytical and technical skills to engage productively with new forms of humanistic inquiry as they arise. Funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Liberal Arts Colleges Program will allow Bard to hire additional faculty and staff devoted to Experimental Humanities projects, develop a system of interdisciplinary thematic research and teaching clusters, invest in student initiatives, and encourage experimental pedagogy and scholarship across the College’s international network.

“The intimacy, collaborative nature, and dedication to critical inquiry at a liberal arts college like Bard make it the ideal place from which to creatively reassess how we think about and pursue the humanities,” says Maria Sachiko Cecire, assistant professor of literature and director of Experimental Humanities. “We are thrilled the Mellon Foundation has given us this opportunity to build so significantly on the work that we have started.”

“We’re gratified that the Mellon Foundation has awarded Bard this generous grant to help insure that the teaching of the humanities retains its vital role in a changing world,” said Bard College President Leon Botstein.

Support from the Mellon Foundation will transform Experimental Humanities at Bard into a hub for scholarly, curricular, and artistic innovations designed to open new directions in multimodal faculty research and student programming as well as to further enrich opportunities for hands-on, practice-rich collaborative work between students and faculty. Over the 40-month life of the grant, Experimental Humanities will develop a new model for the integration of technology and traditional humanistic inquiry at liberal arts colleges. While maintaining the ethos of “practice” and “making” that characterizes digital humanities initiatives, Bard’s Experimental Humanities initiative also includes the critical study of media and the history of scholarly and artistic experimentation in its curricular requirements.

“This grant makes it possible to build upon the deep base of knowledge and expertise that already exists at the College and bring it into conversation with the latest tools, methods, and ways of thinking in humanities research,” says Cecire.

For more information about Experimental Humanities at Bard College, please visit

About Bard College
Founded in 1860, Bard is a four-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences. The campus, a fusion of two historic riverfront estates, is located in the Hudson Valley. The College offers the bachelor of arts degree with concentrations in more than 40 academic programs in four divisions: Arts; Languages and Literature; Science, Mathematics, and Computing; and Social Studies; and a five-year B.A./B.S. degree in economics and finance. Through a five-year program with The Bard College Conservatory of Music, students earn a B.Music degree and a B.A. in a field other than music.

Bard offers the following graduate degrees: master of fine arts; master of arts in curatorial studies; master of arts, master of philosophy, and doctor of philosophy in decorative arts, design history, and material culture; master of science in economic theory and policy; master of science in environmental policy and in climate science and policy; master of business administration in sustainability; master of arts in teaching; and master of music in vocal arts and in conducting. Several graduate dual degrees also are offered.

Bard’s campus is a center from which students can explore the rich natural and cultural life of the Hudson Valley. Within a half-hour’s drive of the campus are many of the great Hudson Valley mansions and historic sites.

With its deep commitment to civic engagement, Bard is a private institution that acts in the public interest. Bard undertakes and fosters initiatives that reflect its principles—innovation, ambition, risk taking, and a fundamental belief in the link between liberal education and democracy. What distinguishes Bard is its willingness and ability to promote and sustain long-term projects that engage its students, faculty, and administrators with some of the most important issues facing society. Whether in social service organizations in the Hudson Valley; in prisons; in high schools in New York, Newark, and New Orleans; or in universities in Russia, Berlin, the West Bank, and Kyrgyzstan, Bard is always innovating and engaging.


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This event was last updated on 05-07-2014