What is Humanities Unbounded?

Funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, Humanities Unbounded is a five-year initiative designed to nurture collaboration and inventive expressions of the humanities at Duke — and beyond our campus. The three pillars of the program are:

Innovation and Collaboration in the Educational Environment: Team‐Based Humanities

With this initiative, our humanities curriculum benefits through increased opportunities for students to collaborate with faculty and other students by participating in research-based humanities labs. The goal is to generate flexible pathways that will enrich Duke students’ humanistic thinking and sustainably embed collaborative research and pedagogy in the areas that most directly shape undergraduate learning.

This builds off our transformative Humanities Writ Large program — initiated in 2011 thanks to a prior Mellon grant — where we grew and nurtured humanities labs that live outside of the University’s core curriculum.

Deepening Impacts of Collaboration: Fellows from Liberal Arts Colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Our Visiting Faculty Fellows program, developed during Humanities Writ Large, expands through Humanities Unbounded with an emphasis on helping the fellows share their experiences at Duke more fully with their home campuses, and bringing to Duke deeper benefits of the cross-institutional collaborations.

Pedagogical Innovation for Community College Students: Engaging with Durham Technical Community College

We connect Durham Tech faculty with Duke doctoral students to develop innovative pedagogical modules that bring interdisciplinary and collaborative humanistic inquiry to the community college experience. The Mellon Foundation has an interest in expanding pathways for community college students to continue on to four-year institutions, and Durham Tech faculty have much to share with Duke PhD students in their knowledge and experiences related to successfully teaching diverse populations.


Humanities Unbounded is under the leadership of three members of Duke's academic leadership: Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Dean of the Humanities Gennifer Weisenfeld, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies Edward Balleisen, and Director of the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Director Ranjana Khanna. They will guide the programmatic decision-making in collaboration with a steering committee that includes chairs of the arts, humanities, and interpretive social sciences departments, as well as selected staff from the Duke Libraries, Academic Advising, and the Graduate School.