The Humanities Edge— a Mellon-funded program for Miami Dade College-to-FIU transfer students majoring in the humanities—has awarded two cross-institutional teams of students and researchers a $10,000 grant each to investigate gentrification in Little Haiti and explore the intersection of activism and art.

Grant recipients were chosen because of their student-focused projects that introduce students to humanities research and gave faculty professional development opportunities to improve humanities curriculum. The Humanities Edge also provides financial resources, mentoring, internships and career workshops to approximately 5,000 students majoring in the humanities at both institutions.

“Both of these projects showcase the humanities’ power to illuminate the human story,” said FIU Humanities Edge director Ana Menéndez. “And by working together to directly engage issues in our community, these FIU and MDC professors and students help demonstrate the diverse and dynamic potential of a humanities education in the 21st century.”

The 2019 faculty grant winners included FIU Theatre professor Phillip Church and MDC ethics and philosophy professor Darrell Arnold. Their project, “Flying Solo: The Activist Artist,” will explore ethical and political reflections on art, and how it impacts self-understanding and a person’s way of being in the world.

The team will work with several collaborators, including artist Xavier Cortada and several undergraduates from MDC and FIU, who will lead research that highlights the ethical importance of art pedagogy, both formal and informal.

The second winning team is led by FIU associate professor of sociology Richard Tardanico and MDC arts and philosophy associate professor Joseph Tamargo. Their project, “Little Haiti Confronts Gentrification, Dislocation, and Evictions,” will address the question: How do Little Haiti’s families, small businesses and the community-at-large attempt to cope with the neighborhood’s rapid gentrification, including dislocations and evictions?

Both proposals were selected for their collaborative reach, research design, community engagement and humanities content. Winners will present their findings at both institutions in the spring of 2020.

Previous Humanities Edge grant winners include: FIU sociology professor Matthew Marr and MDC’s Alejandro Angee, who explored homelessness in Overtown as part of a long-term comparative research project, “Neighborhoods of Refuge;” and FIU history professor Ken Lipartito who collaborated with MDC’s Jairo Ledesma on “Free Blacks of Florida,” a research project exploring the lives of African Americans—both slaves and free—in Florida during the 1840s and 1850s.

“The Humanities has always provided young people with a perspective of the world that takes into consideration the need for empathy, consideration and understanding,” Church said. “In ‘Flying Solo: activist artists,’ we have students representing art curated music, playwriting, acting, videography, ethics and philosophy. The integration of cross-disciples [that] will be practiced through this project opens up worlds of new experience and perspectives for students from different disciplines.”

 

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