Springfield College has been selected as one of 24 Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) member institutions to participate in the second cohort of its “Humanities Research for the Public Good,” grant program, a national initiative to promote student research and public engagement at private colleges and universities while showcasing the rich archival, library, and museum collections held by the selected institutions.
Each participating institution will receive $10,000 to support a year-long undergraduate research project that draws on institutional collections to address a topic of interest to the local community. Each college will collaborate with a community-based partner organization to share the results of student research with community members through public programs, including exhibits, presentations, podcasts, and documentaries.
The Springfield College grant project team will consist of Associate Professor of History Ian Delahanty, College Archivist Jeffrey Monseau, and Vice President for Communications and External Affairs Steve Roulier. The trio will oversee a group of student researchers during the 2021-22 academic year that will focus on the shared history of activism and protest during the late-1960s, both at Springfield College and within the city of Springfield, and demonstrate how those connections can inform present-day Springfield College students and Springfield community members.
“The Springfield College history focuses especially on Black student activism and protest at the College in 1969-70 while also including anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and protests against censorship of the college newspaper,” said Delahanty. “Using documents from the College’s archives and a growing oral history collection, the Springfield College grant project team will explore how activism and protests on campus intersected with local campaigns led by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Congress of Racial Equality, and Welfare Rights Organization.”
As part of the Springfield College participation, student researchers will immerse themselves in the Springfield College Archives and Special Collections for much of the academic year, and also work with staff at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History located in downtown Springfield. To conclude the project, the research team will create a new exhibit that will be on display at the museum.
“Part of that exhibit will draw from their interviews with veteran activists from Springfield College, who recently formed the Legacy Alumni of Color group, as well as Springfield activists who led or took part in campaigns against racial inequality and the Vietnam War,” added Delahanty. “To launch the new exhibit at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum, the project team will organize a symposium in the spring of 2022 that will bring together student researchers, members of the Legacy Alumni of Color group, and veterans of 1960s activism in Springfield, to reflect on how these interconnected histories might inform contemporary campaigns for justice and equality.”
The Humanities Research for the Public Good grant is generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and has received a prestigious J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award from the Society of American Archivists. Anne M. Valk, historian and executive director of the American Social History Project /Center for Media and Learning at the CUNY Graduate Center, leads the program.
“During the grant application process, I was impressed by the good work that faculty and staff are already doing to support community engagement and humanities research,” added Valk. “So many independent colleges are committed to public-facing scholarship and exploring the hidden potential of their collections.”
The CIC will host a virtual workshop for the new cohort of program participants in June and July 2021. A highlight of the workshop will be a keynote panel featuring Valk and Modupe Labode, curator for the division of cultural and community life at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. For more information on the Humanities Research for the Public Good initiative, visit cic.edu/publichumanities.
Springfield College is an independent, nonprofit, coeducational institution founded in 1885. Approximately 4,100 students, including 2,500 full-time undergraduate students, study at its main campus in Springfield, Mass., and at its regional campuses across the country. Springfield College inspires students through the guiding principles of its Humanics philosophy – educating in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others.