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Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program in the Arts and Humanities

A Message from the Director

One of the best things about Hope College is the close working relationships that students develop with faculty members in laboratories, studios, library stacks, computer labs, and offices all over the campus. Our faculty members are active in their fields: researching, publishing, performing, leading professional organizations, and serving the wider community. Just as important, we are available to our students. Teaching and mentoring are priorities at Hope College.

Now, thanks to a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, students who are interested in the Arts and Humanities—Theater, Languages, History, Dance, English, Philosophy, Art, Music, and Religion—can receive even more opportunities to work closely with professionally active faculty mentors in the context of a new, three-year program designed to foster faculty-student collaborative research in the arts and humanities, as well as engagement with new Internet-based technologies that are invigorating many fields of scholarly research.

Each year, seventeen first-year students noted for their intellectual promise will be selected by nomination and competitive application to become “Mellon Scholars.” Perhaps you are one of those students, and you are wondering what the Mellon Scholars Program is all about?

If you are selected, the first year of the Mellon Scholars Program—your second year at Hope—will involve a two-semester, interdisciplinary seminar featuring faculty members from most of the Arts and Humanities departments, engaging you in collaborative research projects and connecting you with potential mentors in a major area of study.

The second year of the Mellon Scholars Program—your third year at Hope—will partner you and perhaps a few other students with a faculty mentor—all sharing common interests—for a year-long, Oxford-style tutorial, in which you can partly determine the course of study and conversation. By the end of the junior tutorial, you will have produced a significant work of scholarship, suitable for application for major awards, such as the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, as well as highly competitive graduate programs in a variety of fields. Of course, some students may combine their junior tutorial with opportunities for off-campus studies, coordinating their program with their faculty mentor.

The third and final year of the Mellon Scholars Program—your fourth year at Hope College—will be the capstone of your undergraduate program. By that time you will have proved yourself a scholar, and you will be ready to work with a faculty mentor on a substantial, year-long research project, selected by you, in your major field. The result should be more than a scholarly paper; it should be a project that uses digital technology to allow a wider conversation about the importance of your work, and you will have more than one opportunity to present your work in public forums such as the Celebration of Undergraduate Research and the Mellon Scholars Conference.

While the Mellon Scholars Program is grounded in the traditional methods of the liberal arts—reading, writing, thinking, speaking—one of its most distinctive features is building on that foundation with the scholarly tools to the 21st century: social networking, collaboration, interactive scholarly interfaces, and new media technologies that are often described, collectively, as the “digital humanities.” For example, as a demonstration project, we currently have students working with Professor Ernest Cole to produce a deeply-researched documentary on amputee camps in his home country, Sierra Leone, that will bring the struggles of those people to the students and faculty of Hope College, in every discipline, and to a global audience using YouTube to distribute the video and Facebook to foster dialogue, networking, fundraising, and even direct action to give the research of our undergraduates a truly global impact. See the video here:

More preliminary projects of that kind are already underway, and you’ll see them emerging on the Mellon Scholars Program’s Website in the months and years to come. In fact, you’ll be contributing to and creating these projects yourself in the course of your education, and, possibly, as the winner of one of our competitive Mellon Summer Assistantships that will enable you to develop your own research working with a professor in the summer after your sophomore and junior years.

If you are a nominee or have been recently admitted to the Mellon Scholars Program, I offer you my congratulations and my promise that you will have an exceptional educational experience grounded in the liberal arts, cultivated by collaboration, and brought to fruition by the judicious use of new technology and multiple opportunities for public presentations of your work.

William Pannapacker

Advisory Committee:

Mr. Pannapacker, director; Mr. Bandstra, Mr. Bell, Mr. Perovich, Ms. Graham, Mr. Gruenler, Ms. Heath, Ms. Hronchek, Ms. Larsen, Ms. Randel, Mr. Reynolds, Ms. Robins.