UArizona research center awarded $1.5M for borderlands research initiative programs

Feb. 17, 2022

TUCSON (Feb. 17, 2022) – The Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry has been awarded a $1.5 million grant for borderlands research, education, and storytelling  program Fronteridades: Nurturing Collaborative Intersections in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands.

The program aims to broaden the understanding and inclusivity in the portrayals of the border by partnering with its own communities and people. Since 2018, the Fronteridades program has invested $800,000 towards nearly 60 projects which have convened several borderlands community partners and organizations towards a singular mission.

“The continuation of this project will not only build on the success and insights gained in the past two years, but it will also continue to broaden its efforts to promote a more accurate and truthful border narrative of underrepresented groups in the borderlands,” said Javier Duran, director for the Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry. 

The new grant funding will intentionally focus on activities that bolster the stories and experiences of underrepresented groups in the borderlands. The Confluencenter will move towards expanding its existing partnerships with grassroots organizations, local artists, and scholars and seek new partners whose work embody the values of the program.   

“Being able to support and engage directly with border community leaders advances the goals of collaboration and community building at the heart of Fronteridades,” Duran said.

Some of the notable achievements of the Fronteridades program includes the development of the Artist Microgrant Program which awarded $30,000 to twenty “Nogalense” artists for their artwork on the border, the work from the Mellon-Fronteridades Graduate Fellowship program which awarded a total of $95,000 to thirteen diverse projects led by graduate students, and lastly, supporting three community engaged border artist teams in Ambos Nogales, Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, MX in the Creative Scholars program which focused on strengthening the border narrative through community art, engagement, and opportunity.   

With the border just 60 miles away from Tucson and as a topic of major focus in news and politics today, Duran believes Fronteridades is a natural fit for the university’s Border Lab Initiative, which seeks to galvanize its existing efforts to understand the borderlands.

“I am proud of the work our departments continue to do and look forward to our university becoming the home of Border Lab, an important initiative made to understand, include, and collect stories from the borderlands,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. 

The achievement of the Fronteridades program contribute to the university-wide  Border Lab, an initiative of the University of Arizona’s Strategic Plan which convenes more than 70 UArizona scholars engaged in border related research and works to not only provide external funding opportunities but also to create a space for scholarly exchange and community engagement. Fronteridades programs have been instrumental in developing the humanities branch of the Border Lab.

“The work of the Confluencenter has been instrumental in the incorporation of diverse perspectives in these disciplines through collaborative and impactful projects rooted in our region’s cultural heritage,” said Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, senior vice president for research and innovation.

The Confluencenter is a vital campus-wide research organization under the Office of Research, Innovation and Impact that connects the humanities, arts, and social sciences with an array of interdisciplinary units on campus.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and we believe that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom to be found there. Through their grants, they seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking.