FARMINGTON – University of Maine at Farmington President Kathryn A. Foster is proud to announce that the University has received a $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This prestigious award will be used to support the creation of a New Commons Project in Public Humanities and Arts for UMF and the Maine community.
“Over the course of our history from the 1860s to the present, UMF has championed humanities and arts as a cornerstone of a quality education to help individuals broaden their horizons and contribute to their community,” said Foster. “We are honored by this significant Mellon Foundation award and the opportunity to spotlight a collection of wide-ranging works selected by and for our Maine community.”
Through the next five years, the New Commons Project will help give voice to the role of UMF as a public liberal arts university and as a cultivator and steward of artistic and creative works and the communal ideas they bring to life. Starting in fall 2017, UMF will work with the Maine Humanities Council, schools, libraries and other groups to solicit video entries about works of literature, philosophy, history, music, art, film, theatre and other arts and humanities disciplines that merit a place in a New Commons today.
“The creation of a statewide digital ‘commons’ of artistic, cinematic, historical, literary, and musical work has the potential to become a national model for public liberal arts colleges and state humanities councils who create, share, and disseminate knowledge in behalf of the common good,” said Eugene Tobin, a senior program officer for Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities at the Mellon Foundation. “We are very pleased to support this thoughtful and innovative contribution to the public humanities and the people of Maine.”
From the wide array of works nominated and posted to the on-line Commons, a project advisory group will select 24 works—classic or contemporary, diverse and compelling—for special use and value to the Maine community in the 21st Century. People on campus and throughout the state will come together on-line and in-person to study, discuss and draw insight and inspiration from these varied and meaningful works.
“As a public institution, UMF celebrates a legacy of providing the community access to the rich experience and exchange of ideas that are found in the arts and humanities,” said Eric Brown, UMF provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The Commons Project invites creation and consideration of our cultural commons found in novels, paintings, films, symphonies, essays, poems, graphic novels, sculptures, treatises, songs or any other artistic and humanistic medium.”
For each work, UMF will host a number of open-to-the-public events, including a faculty-led seminar, public lecture by a prominent scholar, and workshop. In collaboration with local school districts and the Maine Humanities Council, the New Commons Project will coordinate community engagement projects around each work. A digital portal will be established to provide the community with access to extensive online resources. A Digital Commons course will be available to students in which they will work with a Public Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow to create portal content that will be accessible statewide.
“A commons is something that belongs to all of us. It represents a public good, like clean air or knowledge, from which we all benefit. We want the New Commons Project to embody that idea,” said Kristen Case, UMF Associate Professor of English and Director of the New Commons Project. “We can’t wait to see what works of art, literature, and ideas our diverse community believes we need to consider together here and now.”
For more about the New Commons Project, including how to submit nominations, visit the website at http://newcommons.umf.maine.edu/.