Heritage Studies and Public History Graduate Program Awarded Mellon Foundation Grant

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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant to the University of Minnesota for the interdisciplinary Heritage Studies and Public History (HSPH) graduate program. Awarded over the course of two years, the grant will provide support for students and their collaborative work with community partners.

“Continued support from The Mellon Foundation enables HSPH to train heritage professionals who bring critical perspectives on how the past offers insights for a more just and equitable future,” said Greg Donofrio, associate professor and co-founder of the program.

Donofrio, alongside College of Liberal Arts professors Kevin P. Murphy and Katherine Hayes, and Chris Taylor, chief inclusion officer for the Office of Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, created the program to address the lack of diversity in education and professional development in the heritage fields.

“Institutions of higher education have historically played a significant role in ‘gate-keeping’ these professions, by being inaccessible and not inclusive. This grant contributes greatly to our ability to open the gates wide, and this, in turn, makes the university a more equitable place,” said Hayes. “This support from The Mellon Foundation is invaluable as it facilitates transformative, publicly-engaged historical and heritage work that helps push these fields toward the broad and important values of equity and justice,” added Murphy.

To help with this work, the HSPH program partners closely with the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), which helps students build connections and learn from working professionals in the heritage fields. “The Minnesota Historical Society is thrilled to partner with the University of Minnesota to drive inclusion and equity in the field of public history through the HSPH program,” said Kent Whitworth, director and CEO of the Minnesota Historical Society. “Diversifying and connecting the next generations of museum professionals through teaching and internships using our research, collections, and library resources is critical for history’s relevance now and in the future.”

Continued support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will ensure that the HSPH graduate program will be open to students from all backgrounds and will provide all enrolled students with a level of financial support that ensures their completion of the program.

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