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Mellon Initiatives

Dumbarton Oaks has received grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support innovative programming in two areas: Plant Humanities and Urban Landscape Studies. These interdisciplinary initiatives include fellowships, outreach to students from high school through graduate school, events and exhibitions, and publications.


Plant Humanities

In September 2018 Dumbarton Oaks received a three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with a sister grant to JSTOR Labs, to advance Plant Humanities. This new, interdisciplinary field explores and communicates the unparalleled significance of plants to human culture.

The Plant Humanities Initiative integrates digital humanities with scholarly programming, building on the strengths of the two partner organizations, Dumbarton Oaks and JSTOR Labs. A product of this collaboration is a digital platform that will highlight rare and unique materials in the Dumbarton Oaks rare book collection and connect these materials to Global Plants and other primary and secondary digitized sources through interactive and visually engaging storytelling. Our hope is that by bringing together different resources related to plants, this endeavor will generate new research questions. To develop the content for the digital platform, Dumbarton Oaks offers new research and professional development opportunities for early-career humanists through an array of scholarly programs.

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Awards and Opportunities

Plant Humanities fellowships provide nine months of research and professional development opportunities for early-career scholars. A summer program for advanced undergraduates and graduate students focuses on the interdisciplinary study of plants and the ways they have shaped human culture. Weeklong summer residencies pair college instructors and faculty from a broad spectrum of institutions with library and curatorial staff.

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People and Scholarship

Study Days and collaboration with JSTOR allow fellows to build their skills in the use and integration of digital tools and special collections. Case studies and online publications provide opportunities to share innovative research with the public.

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Public Outreach

An exhibition on botanical artist Margaret Mee and accompanying school programming aims to integrate art and science for visitors to the Museum and K–12 students in Washington, DC.

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Urban Landscape Studies

Two grants from the Mellon Foundation have supported an interdisciplinary program in urban landscape studies. The second, received in 2019, expands the program to focus on “Democracy and the Urban Landscape: Race, Identity, and Difference.”

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Awards and Opportunities

Semester-long fellowships support both research and teaching projects, and provide additional opportunities for field research funding. Graduate and advanced undergraduate students may also apply for funding to attend the annual Garden and Landscape Studies colloquium.

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People and Scholarship

Academic events, such as the Mellon Midday Dialogues, create a framework for interactions among the fellows as well as the humanities scholars at Dumbarton Oaks and neighboring academic institution.

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Public Outreach

A series of public programs, including lectures, colloquia, workshops, and exhibitions, are aimed at disseminating the initiative’s work nationally and internationally.

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