The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is pleased to name 41 new Leading Edge Fellows, a major expansion of this publicly engaged humanities initiative made possible by a $3.6 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

In this third round of the fellowship program, outstanding PhDs in the humanities and interpretive social sciences have been placed with nonprofits to support initiatives advancing social justice and equity in communities across the United States.

“ACLS is proud to partner with the Mellon Foundation to award an unprecedented number of publicly-engaged postdoctoral fellowships through the Leading Edge Fellowship program,” said ACLS President Joy Connolly. “As we look forward with hope to our emergence from the pandemic, we also feel a sense of urgency in helping humanistic scholars work with others to create a better, more inclusive future. This impressive group reflects our commitment to supporting early career scholars and recognizing the power humanistic knowledge and inquiry have to help shape the world beyond campus.”

Meet the new Leading Edge Fellows and learn about their projects here.

The fellows represent a wide array of humanities disciplines and PhD granting institutions, including Georgia State University, Drexel University, Howard University, New York University, and the University of California, Berkeley. Fellows’ projects will explore community alternatives to policing, advance youth-centered policy change and COVID-19 recovery, and promote expanded access to food benefits, childcare, and educational opportunities, among many other critical social justice issues. Partner organizations include Hunger Free America, the Thurgood Marshall College FundFreedom Project NetworkOne Fair Wage, and Common Justice.

In addition to supporting work that aims to remedy conditions of racial and social injustice, the Leading Edge program provides career-building experience for the fellows that can be applied within the classroom and beyond. Leading Edge Fellows receive a $60,000 stipend, as well as health insurance and professional development funding, and participate in professional development and networking activities.

An earlier phase of the program, funded as part of a $2.6 million grant by the Henry Luce Foundation, launched in the summer of 2020 to rapidly respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent PhDs pursuing research in art, art history, religion, theology, and ethics were placed with nonprofit partners across the country to document the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities and advance collective understanding of the conditions that worsened that impact. With the support of the Mellon Foundation, ACLS expanded the program and refocused it on advancing equity and justice, civic participation, and anti-racist policies and practices.