Rhodes Receives Mellon Foundation Grant to Expand Environmental Studies Initiatives through Community Partnerships

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Publication Date: 1/28/2008

Rhodes College students will be able to broaden connections between the classroom and the community with focus on environmental policy thanks to a major grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Mellon Foundation will provide more than $500,000 over three years to strengthen environmental studies initiatives at Rhodes and to fund three postdoctoral positions to help Rhodes expand its current Environmental Science program to Environmental Studies.

Community partnerships will provide opportunities for Rhodes faculty and students to move beyond science and statistics and implement research and outreach projects in areas such as environmental law and activism. Rhodes plans to build upon existing partnerships with such organizations as the Memphis Zoo, the Wolf River Conservancy, the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department and Midtown North Community Association.

“Our faculty’s plan to create post-doctoral positions in environmental policy will add both depth and breadth to our program, along with teaching experience in a liberal arts environment for recent humanities Ph.D’s,” says Rhodes president William E. Troutt. “The program plays to our strengths in interdisciplinary learning that crosses traditional departmental boundaries. The timing is ideal for Rhodes as we implement several new initiatives that continue to integrate academic and experiential learning. We are very grateful for this support.”

Dr. David Kesler, professor of biology at Rhodes, will direct the program. Recruitment of the postdoctoral fellows will begin immediately. The fellows will design and incorporate courses on environmental policy that also enhance their own teaching and research interests. In addition, they will be assigned faculty mentors to help them integrate the new courses into current department programs and become more familiar with teaching in a liberal arts college environment.

The postdocs will bring a critical policy perspective to Rhodes’ current Environmental Science Program.  The three-year grant period also will enable faculty to develop a plan and a framework for permanent expansion of the program including offering an environmental studies minor.

With offices in New York City and Princeton, N.J., The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation currently makes grants in six core program areas: higher education and scholarship, scholarly communications, research in information technology, museums and art conservation, performing arts, and conservation and the environment.

Founded in 1848, Rhodes College aspires to graduate students with a lifelong passion for learning, a compassion for others, and the ability to translate academic study and personal concern into effective leadership and action in their communities and the world.

Those with specific inquires about the grant can contact Provost Charlotte Borst at (901) 843-3795.