You are here:Home/Research/ Mellon Initiatives/ Mellon Initiative in Urban Landscape Studies

Mellon Initiative in Urban Landscape Studies

Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks has received a second major award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to expand the interdisciplinary program in urban landscape studies with a focus on “Democracy and the Urban Landscape: Race, Identity, and Difference.” This grant is one of eighteen made by the Mellon Foundation so far to significant institutions of higher education and research, including Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, through their initiative in “Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities.” Grants are intended to foster the joint contributions that the humanities and the design and planning disciplines may make to understanding the processes and effects of burgeoning urbanization. At Dumbarton Oaks, the program brings scholars from multiple disciplines including designers together to explore how urban environments have emerged as we know them today and how we might reimagine them in the future.

The program at Dumbarton Oaks involves three principal components: semester-long fellowships for both research and teaching projects, with additional opportunities for field research funding; a series of academic events, such as the Mellon Midday Dialogues, that create a framework for interactions among the fellows as well as the humanities scholars at Dumbarton Oaks and neighboring academic institutions; and a series of public programs including lectures, colloquia, workshops, and publications, all aimed at disseminating the initiative’s work nationally and internationally.

Learn more about the Mellon Initiative in Urban Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks in short videos featuring members of the advisory board.

The initiative will produce and disseminate scholarship that reframes the narratives of landscape history through a deeper inquiry into the legacies of race, identity, and difference as they shape the practice of democracy while acknowledging the importance of sustainability, adaptability, and resilience. The themes foster an understanding of cities as landscape systems by inviting engagement with such topics as topography, hydrology, climate, and urban form; landscape and public history; the urban/rural interface; racialized and gendered landscapes; political ecologies; and informal urbanism. In these ways, the project seeks to enlarge the discourse of landscape history to encompass a broad range of cultures, places, and questions.

This project builds on our first Urban Landscape Studies initiative funded by the Mellon Foundation and led by John Beardsley from 2014 to 2019. This five-year effort was an important contribution to the scholarship and research stewarded by Dumbarton Oaks as well as to the field of landscape studies more generally. Within the institution, it is no longer possible to think of landscape without its urban dimensions, nor is it possible to think about cities without understanding them as complex human and natural systems. Activities included symposia, publications, and visiting scholars and lectures, each addressing an historical role of landscape and design in the urban fabric, from pre-industrial cities to river cities to the impacts of climate change on future cities.

Image courtesy the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, fsa 8d28925.

Advisory Board

NDB Connolly, Johns Hopkins University; Justin Garrett Moore, Columbia University; Dell Upton, UCLA: Michele Wilkinson, NMAAHC; Thaisa Way, Dumbarton Oaks; and Willow Lung Aman, University of Maryland; missing from the photo are Eric Avila, UCLA; and Alice Nash, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Meet the Advisory Board



Follow us with #MellonInitiativeMonday: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Awards and Opportunities

Mellon Fellowships in Urban Landscape Studies

Available to cross-disciplinary scholars, with preference for candidates with terminal degrees (PhD or MLA). Awards are for a semester or academic year. Apply by November 1.

Mellon Summer Fellowships in Urban Humanities, “Landscapes of Civil and Human Rights”

Available for scholars engaged in narratives and counternarratives of remembering, studying, and stewarding the legacy of civil rights histories and their place-narratives in the United States. Apply by November 1.

Conference Travel Awards for Students

Mellon Conference Awards are travel grants for students wishing to attend Dumbarton Oaks’ annual colloquia or symposia in Garden and Landscape Studies.

People and Scholarship

Public Outreach