Transform Accepts New Grant To Establish Intersectional Studies Collective


Emily Christensen

(Graphic by Emily Christensen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Devin Oldroyd, News Writer


Mid-December 2022 the University of Utah’s School for Cultural and Social Transformation, commonly known as Transform, received a $517,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“We’re thrilled, we’re humbled and we’re exceedingly grateful,” said Dean of Transform Kathryn Bond Stockton. “We recognize this as the rare opportunity that it is. You don’t get this chance every day.”

The U is one of only five universities nationally to receive the Mellon Foundation grant. It is joined by the University of Southern California, Georgia State University, the University of Virginia and New York University.

“Not only does [the grant] validate, I think, how we see ourselves, [but], we’re also in quite good company,” said the current chair of The Division of Ethnic Studies Edmund Fong. “Essentially, it can be interpreted as saying we are one of the top five institutions nationally, around, sort of, the body of work around intersectionality.”

Transform announced in a press release a three-year plan to create an intersectional studies collective. The first year focuses on intersectional curricular and pedagogical development, the second is centered on financial support for intersectional research for faculty and students and the third plans to be about intersectional praxis and community engagement.

According to Stockton, the plan will begin with a partnership between the U and Utah State University’s new center for intersectional gender studies and research.

“We’re going to be side by side in this first-year venture for intersectional pedagogy,” she said. “We’ll have fellows at the U, we’ll have fellows at Utah State [and] we’re going to be reaching out to Weber State and [Salt Lake Community College] to get some involvement from faculty there. It will really be the first time that, in an official structured way, we’re bringing ourselves together on this particular topic of domain.”

The first year of the plan will feature workshops to strengthen the integration of intersectional materials surrounding disability, transgender and queer of color critique, environmental anti-racism, Indigeneity and decolonial justice and carceral studies.

“I am, kind of, excited about how each year [of the plan] is going to build on the other,” Stockton said. “It makes sense, I think, to start with teaching, because Transform was founded on student voices and we feel that we are student-centered to our core. My heart is very much there because I think that will be broadly transformative.”

Fong said he is excited to see the plan come to fruition over the next three years.

“In drafting the grant, I think my primary role was taking on year three,” he said. “If there is one year where I kind of see myself as, perhaps, more engaged or involved, it might be the last year where we’re focusing on bringing in community partners. This is something that is often lost in conversations about intersectionality. So that is where I see, in particular, where we can really take the concept in new directions.”

This grant came shortly after the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the school being founded. It is the second grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that Transform has received. The first grant was used to form the Pacific Islands Studies Initiative.

“This was a grant that started in 2018 and then ran for three years for $600,000 to fund this new Pacific Islands Studies Initiative,” Stockton said. “That was [used] to create an undergraduate certificate, to support new faculty that we were hiring [and] to figure out new ways to create more involvement for any student who’s interested in Pacific Island studies.”

The 2018 grant is coming to an end, however. According to Stockton, it is too early to say if it will be renewed, but Transform is hopeful.

To learn more, visit Transform’s website or check out the U’s YouTube video which gives details about the Mellon Grant and their current three-year plan.


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