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Challenge Grant Bolsters Two USC College Institutes

USC-Huntington history partnerships receive NEH funding.

Challenge Grant Bolsters Two USC College Institutes


The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded a $350,000 challenge grant to the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute (EMSI) and the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West (ICW).

The institutes will endow programs related to the American experience, with a particular focus on issues of identity and citizenship. The grant was awarded through the NEH’s We the People program, aimed at reinvigorating the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture.

“At the end of five years, when the endowment is raised, it will transform the work of both institutes, allowing them to move forward from the initial pilot stage and to provide programming forever relating to the American experience,” said Peter Mancall, director of EMSI and professor of history and anthropology in USC College.

“We’re thrilled by this significant expression of support from the NEH, as it is a critical endorsement of our collaborative work investigating American history and culture,” added William Deverell, director of ICW and USC College professor of history.

Created respectively in 2003 and 2004, EMSI and ICW are joint partnerships between USC College and the Huntington Library. The institutes have picked up only the third NEH challenge grant ever awarded to USC. The first was awarded in 1977 and the second in 1988.

The initiatives supported by the NEH grant will consist of:

  • summer fellowships for USC graduate students to pursue research in the archives and collections of the Huntington Library;

  • an annual workshop sponsored by the EMSI and The William and Mary Quarterly, one of the most prestigious scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences;

  • online publication of papers presented at institute seminars, working groups and conferences addressing historic themes such as differing notions of citizenship or examinations of changing attitudes and programs of public health; and

  • facilitating research at the Huntington Library by scholars holding Ph.D. or ABD degrees, by encouraging them to remain in the area to conduct research either before or after presentations at the institutes’ programs.

“A commitment to outstanding scholarship, and a continual investment in that commitment, will move our College to the next level of excellence,” said Howard Gillman, dean of USC College. “This important national recognition underscores that these are institutes of exceptionally high caliber that are changing how scholarship is approached in the humanities. How exciting that they are now poised to impact an even larger body of scholars and graduate students. I am enormously proud of the recognition this grant brings to Bill and Peter’s work, our College, and the university.”

“As the We the People program celebrates its fifth anniversary, it continues to support vital humanities projects that promote the study of America’s history, culture and founding principles,” said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. “Humanities projects funded through endowment support help us understand where we’ve been, who we are today and what ideas we must pass on to future generations.”