Now beginning its third year, a community-engaged research project at UC Merced’s Interdisciplinary Humanities graduate program will expand its work, which partners humanities students with local organizations. The collaborations, which aim to benefit communities in the Merced area, have included researching water governance and power, digitizing historical archives, and analyzing urban spaces. The work not only helps to build strong relationships and support for community partners, but students gain new skills and experience in preparation for careers in or beyond academia.
It has been two years since UC Merced received the $280,000 Henry Luce Foundation grant, but its community engaged research endeavors are far from over.
This fall, UC Merced Interdisciplinary Humanities graduate students and faculty will have the benefit of two additional years of funding to find new opportunities to grow intersections of humanities research and community engagement in Merced.
Founded in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, who created Time magazine, the Luce Foundation is a nonprofit committed to transforming humanities doctoral education and to strengthening the ties between researchers and the public. It has supported hundreds of organizations with more than 5,800 grants worth more than $1 billion.
“The Luce Foundation has a history of supporting public knowledge and making scholarship accessible. It was really interesting that the foundation connected with Merced — a rural area in the West — and saw similar potential for community engaged work,” said Teaching Professor Anne Zanzucchi, co-principal investigator of the Luce project.
When asked about the new partnership in 2019, Henry Luce Foundation Vice President Sean Buffington told UC Merced “The character of the university; its relative smallness within the UC system; its location in a part of California that is not well-served by the UC system; its close connection to the city of Merced and community organizations — all of that creates a really interesting environment within which to pursue a project like this.”