Just in time for its five-year anniversary, the University of Utah’s School for Cultural and Social Transformation (Transform) has been awarded a $517,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create an intersectional studies collective. The U is one of only five universities in the country to receive this award, owing to its housing a critical mass of excellent scholars working at the forefront of Intersectional Studies.
“This recognition by the Mellon Foundation establishes the School for Cultural and Social Transformation and, broadly, the U, as a national leader in intersectional studies,” said Kathryn Bond Stockton, dean of Transform. “We’re beyond excited. We’re grateful and ready to step out boldly—to creatively deepen our current work by linking minds with many new partners.”
“Intersectionality” describes the field of study that examines the interlocking dynamics of how race, gender, sexuality and (dis)ability, among other critical entities, intersect each other. In fact, Transform was formed as a college for intersectional inquiry. It aims to examine shifting sexualities, changing genders, dynamic immigrations and emergent struggles against all racist thought and actions.
“Everything on fire in our world, we study, and everything everyone is currently debating, we discuss with passion and cool examination,” said Stockton. “We particularly honor the Black and Indigenous women who founded and coined the concept of intersectionality based on the complex, multiple conditions of their lived experiences.”
This is the second Mellon Grant to be awarded to Transform, the U’s newest college. The first was received in 2018 to fund the Pacific Islands Studies Initiative. This initiative joined Transform’s divisions of Ethnic Studies and Gender Studies, along with the Disability Studies program.
“Transform is well prepared to launch this three-year action plan centered on intersectionality,” said Stockton. “Because of its history and impact on our fields and in our lives, we also want to see intersectionality conceptually expanded across disciplinary areas. This intersectional studies collective will help us do just that.”
The new Transformative Intersectional Collective (TRIC) will include three years of focus with University of Utah, regional and national partners in the following areas:
- Year 1: Intersectional curricular and pedagogical development (in specific partnership with Utah State University) featuring workshops to strengthen integration of intersectional materials surrounding disability, transgender and queer of color critique, environmental anti-racism, Indigeneity and decolonial justice, and carceral studies.
- Year 2: Financial support for intersectional research for faculty and students
- Year 3: Intersectional praxis and community engagement to fund student internships, community-engaged research and institutional change. The final year will also include the creation of a collaborative publication reflecting on all that is learned throughout the collective.
The U joins four other recipients of this funding including New York University, the University of Southern California, Georgia State University and the University of Virginia — all with a mandate to build a national network for intersectional studies. Transform’s goal, Stockton said, is to build an intersectional studies network in the inter-mountain West and across the country in close conversation with accomplished scholars at the national level.
A team in Transform collectively devised the U’s proposal including Edmund Fong, chair of the Division of Ethnic Studies, Wanda Pillow, chair of the Division of Gender Studies, Angela Smith, director of Disability Studies, Claudia Geist, associate dean for research, Estela Hernandez, assistant dean, Daniel Hadley, senior director of Foundations Relations at the U and Stockton, who will serve as the grant’s principal investigator.