Graduate Team Fellowships

Graduate Team Fellowships

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Program summary

In the spring of 2019, the Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme inaugurated a one-of-a-kind arts and humanities graduate fellowship inspired by the team science model: the Graduate Team Fellowship program. This fellowship brings together a cohort of graduate students whose projects intersect with one or more of the GAHDT Focus Areas – providing students with an opportunity to gain cross-disciplinary mentorship while being embedded in a collaborative ecology. The program aims to give graduate students in the arts and humanities an essential toolkit of skills as they prepare to enter a newly evolving job market – one that is highly dependent on networks, technology and a collaborative ethos.

The program has supported 15 interdisciplinary scholars thus far. This year’s fellows explored the potential of the arts and humanities to address challenges presented by the climate crisis, environmental degradation, medical addiction, and cultural representations of underrepresented communities. Graduate fellows met monthly with Professors and Faculty Fellows Dorry Noyes and Susan Van Pelt Petry engaging in cross-disciplinary dialogues that provided opportunities for more carefully-honed and translatable research descriptions, job talks, and public-facing contributions.

Why now?

We live in complex times characterized by diverse and grave global challenges that require socially responsive, multifaceted solutions. Truly innovative solutions depend on scholarship that harnesses insights from a cross-disciplinary and collaborative perspective. Such integrative knowledge allows scholars to develop much more complex and innovative outputs by engaging research questions from a variety of methodological and theoretical orientations, and to interrogate unquestioned assumptions, biases and blind spots tacit in their disciplinary and research cultures. This also includes training students in ways of negotiating a competitive research-funding environment by mentoring them through processes of grant and proposal writing.

Building collaborative cultures

Whereas there is strong evidence of the collaborative ecology in the STEM fields, the arts and the humanities still have to demonstrate this 'culture change’ as they continue to emphasize specialization, often at the cost of collaboration (Borroughs, 525). The Global Arts + Humanities Graduate Team Fellowship program aims to advance cross-disciplinary team-based research cultures by brokering collaboration and facilitating the sharing of conceptual frameworks and disciplinary alignments. Not only will this experience build tolerances for varying academic perspectives, it also fosters in graduate students a receptivity towards network-based insight building. Our fellowship thus encourages agility in methods and modes, creativity of mind and practice, and intellectual grit.

A model for relational scholarship

The Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme is invested in advancing cooperative scholarship that is relational in its orientation. It is a model of research and practice that acknowledges our varying entanglements in the process of knowledge production — the human and non-human world, the digital and the material, the social and the singular. It fosters a critical consciousness and an ethic of global interdependence and collaboration.

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Meet our current Graduate Team Fellows

Photos of the Graduate Team Fellows
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Photograph of Jacklyn Brickman

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Photograph of Mercedes Chavez

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"In working with cinema studies and the environmental humanities, my work presents an emergent and naturally cross-disciplinary methodology, drawing out the interplay between the industrial/cultural object of film and the human relationship to nature."

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Photograph of Sophia Enriquez

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Photograph of Ehsan Estiri

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"This kind of cross-disciplinary research represents an avant-garde and non-conventional approach — I hope to learn from other fellows on how they draw on multiple fields in arts and humanities to answer their questions."

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"I am building my professional network beyond the design community into other disciplines that are represented in the cohort. I also hope that experience will enable me to amplify my voice farther than I would have been able to do on my own."

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Photograph of Trevor Marcho

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Photograph of Lyndsey Vader

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"I was excited to deepen my research amongst a group of artist-scholars across campus whose work intersects with core GAHDT themes. This graduate fellowship creates a space that honors creative critical-thinking through research grounded in theory and practice. The potential for cross-pollination of ideas made the team-based component of the fellowship particularly appealing. It is a delight to experiment with different models that amplify convergences across research areas."

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Previous Graduate Team Fellows

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Erin T. Allen (School of Music)

Project title: Brass Bands, Participatory Musicking and the Ethics of Engagement at the HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands
Project description: Allen’s research examined how performance and perception of brass street band music shapes and is shaped by a critical engagement with U.S. political culture and social life, both within American public culture and more broadly within an international network of brass musicians.


Kassie Burnett (Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures)

Project title: Differently-Abled Natures: Ability in German Literature and Culture, 1900’s-Present
Project description: Burnett’s research explored the concept of 'ability' in German literature and culture from the early twentieth century to the present. She questioned how western conceptions of ability and disability have influenced views and valuations of nature and its beings. Answering this query has implications not only for German eco-criticism and disability studies, but also for the global community as a whole.


Tessa Jacobs (Department of English)

Project title: Fire on Mountain Drive
Project description: Jacobs’ cross-disciplinary project explored how the Mountain Drive community — a neighborhood in the foothills of Southern California — utilizing cultural resources such as community traditions, festivals and social networks, to withstand wildfires.


Jess Lamar Holler (Department of Comparative Studies)

Project title: Toxic Heritages
Project description: Holler’s multimodal dissertation project encompassed community-based collaborative ethnographic work, media ethnography and public humanities and arts-inflected production to investigate forms of toxic exposure across three sites in Ohio: 1) River Valley High School — a high school built on a WWII toxic dump-site in Marion County; 2) fracked communities in Eastern Ohio; and 3) dispersed communities fighting glyphosate/RoundUp in the food, water and lawn-care system.


Marie Lerma (Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies)

Project title: Another World, Another Self: Oppositional Environmentalism and Latinx Art
Project description: Lerma’s work posited a critical relationship between activism, Latinx art, the environment and land. Her dissertation articulated frameworks for different human connections to the land — ones that rely on mutual communal relationships over capitalist ideas of ownership.


Eleanor Paynter (Department of Comparative Studies)

Project title: Emergency in Transit: Identity and Belonging through Narratives of Mediterranean Migration to Italy
Project description: Paynter’s dissertation adopted an interdisciplinary, multi-scalar approach to explore how emergency responses to migrant arrivals in Italy mask larger historical and cultural issues related to national sovereignty, cultural identity and racialization.


Nandi Sims (Department of Linguistics)

Project title: Race, Ethnicity and Language Change in a Predominately Black Miami Middle School
Project description: Sims’ dissertation research aimed to explore group affiliation and identity formation as demonstrated through language among African and Haitian American youths at a Miami middle school. The project drew upon and contributes to literatures from a wide range of arts and humanities fields like linguistics, critical race studies and cultural studies.