UArizona awarded $385,000 NEH grant, supports launch of Border Lab Summer Institute and Cultural Heritage programs

Oct. 12, 2021


TUCSON (Oct. 12, 2021) – The University of Arizona has been named recipient of a $385,000 grant awarded by the National Endowment of the Humanities through their program, American Rescue Plan: Humanities Organizations, aimed at providing economic relief and recovery for cultural and educational institutions affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding from the grant will allow for a cross-institutional collaboration including the Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, UArizona Press, the Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum, and the Writing Skills Improvement Program, in the start of a new project named Reclaiming Cultural Heritage in the Borderlands.

The goals behind the grant encompass achieving greater support for research that elevates local heritage and historically excluded narratives, expanding public access to cultural spaces and resources, and strengthening academic skills programs for UArizona’s underrepresented student populations.

“We are immensely grateful to the NEH for this support which will help us continue our mission of cultivating and advancing our institutional expertise in the field of border and cultural heritage studies,” said Confluencenter Director, Dr. Javier Duran, Professor of Latin American and Border Studies at the University of Arizona and Principal Investigator of the project.

The new project will also aid in bolstering borderland research programs and assist in the creation of a Border Lab Summer Institute, where participants can gather, digitize, and creatively activate stories about past and ongoing efforts for racial justice and equality among underrepresented borderlands communities. The Border Lab is an initiative of 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.

The activities of the project under this grant align with the HSI and land-grant missions of the university. In 2018, UArizona was designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The designation was awarded for the success in the enrollment of Hispanic students and in providing educational opportunities to them. The annual designation is defined by the Higher Education Act as an institution of higher education with an undergraduate student enrollment that is at least 25 percent Hispanic.

“The Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum is excited to expand our outreach to the community by receiving rescue plan funding through the NEH. The grant enables hiring university students to obtain real world experience and be part of our world class institution,” Museum Director, Eric Fritz said.

The grant will also support the University of Arizona Press in its efforts to convert titles on Indigenous and Latinx themes, that are currently available only in print, into formats for e-book delivery and expand the number of titles available on Open Arizona, the publisher’s open access platform.

In addition, new funding will go towards supporting the expansion of the Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum in its relocation efforts to the historic Pima County Courthouse and allow for the creation of student worker positions. Furthermore, the funding will support the Writing Skills Improvement Program’s Academic Writing in the Borderlands initiative, an institute aimed at helping Arizona's diverse students develop critical academic writing skills.

“We are grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities for enabling us to expand the reach of borderlands studies scholarship, an emphasis of our publishing program for more than sixty years,” said Kathryn Conrad, Director of the University of Arizona Press.

For more information, visit NEH