In support of intellectual diversity

In scholarship from Guantanamo Bay and the domestic prison system to marginalized Native Americans in 17th-century New England, Falguni Sheth (pictured) explores ethics, race, and society. Her work resonates and overlaps with that of the other Mellon Fellows in Humanistic Inquiry (HIP) at Emory. But in addition to strengthening diversity, interdisciplinary connections, and a range of expertise, the hiring of the Mellon fellows has come with an unexpected benefit: innovative processes for recruiting faculty across departments and schools.

"Originally, Emory envisioned the Mellon grant would help it expand the intellectual range within departments and build bridges to disciplines and departments not traditionally connected to each other," says Provost Claire Sterk. "However, in very real terms, the Mellon HIP grant surpassed its original goal by basing humanists in professional schools through unprecedented inter-school collaborations."

The recruitment of Daniel Reynolds brought film, digital, and media studies at Emory together with the fields of neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, and philosophy. The next step in interdisciplinary recruitment expanded from hires involving multiple departments within Emory College of Arts and Sciences (ECAS) to faculty appointments between ECAS and several professional schools. For one, Mellon Fellow Elena Conis -- with expertise in the history of public health -- built bridges between the humanities and the health sciences professional schools. Next came the hiring of humanists outside of ECAS, such as Nichole Phillips at Candler School of Theology and Daniel LaChance in ECAS and the School of Law. In the fall of 2015, both nursing and public health took the bold step of creating tenure lines for humanists within their schools.

In short, each of the search processes for the Mellon HIP fellows learned from and built on previous searches, with a number of faculty members who served on earlier search committees advising subsequent searches. "The final results produce a win-win," says Sterk, "a diverse new group of Emory faculty members and new processes for strengthen diverse faculty recruitment going forward."