Carnegie Mellon University
December 18, 2014

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grants Carnegie Mellon $2 Million To Transform Graduate Education in Humanities

Five-Year Award Will Train Humanities Ph.D. Students in Digital Scholarship and Technology-Enhanced Learning; Course Material Will Be Available Online, Open to Anyone

By Shilo Rea / 412-268-6094                       

PITTSBURGH—Technology is rapidly changing teaching and research in the humanities. Computational methods are enabling research that was impossible to envision a few years ago, such as using big data to analyze and improve human rights and re-creating early social networks to understand how ideas and knowledge spread. Educators also are developing and using technology to improve student engagement and learning.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Carnegie Mellon University a five-year, $2 million grant to use technology-enhanced learning (TEL) to transform and enhance graduate education in the humanities. With a well-established legacy of pioneering TEL and through its Simon Initiative, a strategic, university-wide commitment to use TEL to improve learning outcomes for all students, Carnegie Mellon is uniquely positioned to advance digital scholarship and TEL in the humanities.

“The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation cares deeply about the future of the humanities, and they realize that one way to keep the humanities vital is to bring them into contact with the digital tools being developed in other disciplines. As CMU is a leader in most things digital, and certainly a leader in technology-enhanced learning, we are a natural partner,” said Richard Scheines, dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“Although we already have a number of faculty in humanities doing groundbreaking work in digital humanities and in technology-enhanced learning, this grant will allow us to change the culture for ‘all’ of our humanities Ph.D. students and faculty. We are very excited to get started, and very grateful to the foundation for its support,” Scheines said.

The new grant will primarily involve the Dietrich College’s English, History, Modern Languages and Philosophy departments. All humanities Ph.D. students and interested faculty will be trained to take advantage of the benefits technology offers through intensive, weeklong summer courses aimed at providing basic literacy. Support personnel will assist in developing and offering these courses and in consulting with faculty and students who have a deeper interest. Fellowships will be available to Ph.D. students who wish to pursue a thesis that centrally involves digital humanities or TEL. The impact of the weeklong summer courses will go beyond CMU; the TEL and digital humanities courses will be available to anyone through online modules.

For more information on the strength of Carnegie Mellon’s humanities, visit