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Ford Foundation Funds UCR Center

UCR Cultural Studies Boosted by Ford Foundation Grant

(March 29, 2002)

A $153,000 grant from the Ford Foundation has expanded a project called “Intellectual Diversity and Excellence” at the Center for Ideas and Society, a research center founded at the University of California, Riverside in 1988 to encourage cooperation across disciplines.

The Ford Foundation awarded a two-year grant of $250,000 in April, 2000. This new grant, approved just last week, expands what has become a milestone program for the campus to a third and final year, ending in June 2003.

“The United States has learned, since Sept. 11, that isolation is no longer an acceptable option in the global village and that understanding other cultures requires extensive knowledge and study,” said Emory Elliott, director of the Center for Ideas and Society. “I am excited and grateful that the Ford Foundation has recognized that we are creating new and important cross-cultural work that is reaching across our fast-growing campus.”

As an example, Elliott noted a lecture series on the African Diaspora, led by Professor Sterling Stuckey, that brought together people form the campus with people from the community.

In the past two years, the Center has sponsored a wealth of programs and conferences that explore diversity, gender issues, and visual culture, including programs that focus on black aesthetics, Hispanic literature, hip-hop theater and adaptation among children of Asian immigrants, Elliott said. In addition, the Ford funding helped establish two new undergraduate classes: “African American and Latino Prison Narratives” and “The Prison Industrial Complex.”

Patricia O’Brien, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, said the Ford Foundation grant has helped transform the work of the college. “We now have new venues for transnational, cross-cultural scholarship, which will lead to a greater appreciation for diversity and its multiple facets far beyond the UCR campus,” she said. “We are deeply grateful for the Ford Foundation’s vote of confidence.”

The new funding could be used to bring about new scholarly work on the societal impact of hip-hop music and theater, Native American arts, Latino film and opera and other examples of artistic diversity. Below are a few examples of proposals under consideration at the Center:

· Sharon Salinger of History and Joel Martin of History and Religious Studies seek funding for a conference April 27, 2002 entitled “Celebrating Native Institutions and Practices: Collaborating with Respect to Build Better Pasts and Futures.” The day will include the awarding of the Chancellor’s Medal to Katherine Saubel, an independent scholar of Native American cultures.

· A group of faculty seek funding to explore the politics of citizenship that have come to the fore since Sept. 11, building on a series of events and speakers called “September 11: War, Terror and Tolerance.”

· Carlos Morton, professor of theater at UCR and Kathryn Ervin of California State University, with playwright Rickery Hinds, seek funding for a Hip Hop Theater Festival entitled “Double O Deuce” during the 2002-2003 academic year.

· Professor Morton is also seeking funding to screen the film “Salt of the Earth” and produce the opera “Esperanza” in early 2003, with performances in both San Bernardino and Riverside. Both events would be followed by panel discussions on the political and historical aspects of the 1953 film and the operatic adaptation. Morton wrote the lyrics for “Esperanza.”

· Faculty members from Dance, Music, History, Political Science, Religion, and English, with members of Native American communities, seek funding for a conference called “Red Rhythms: Contemporary Methodologies in American Indian Dance” during the 2002-2003 academic year.

The relationship between the Ford Foundation and the UCR Center for Ideas and Society originated in 1998 with seed funding for a landmark conference called “Aesthetics and Difference: Cultural Diversity, Literature and the Arts.” That conference drew scholars from all over the world to UCR and resulted in “Aesthetics in a Multicultural Age,” a collection of essays just published by Oxford University Press.

Founded in 1936, the Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that provides grants and loans in three broad areas: Asset Building and Community Development; Education, Media, Arts, and Culture; and Peace and Social Justice.

The University of California, Riverside is one of 10 University of California campuses, generally recognized as the preeminent public university system in the world. The 1,200-acre campus offers undergraduate and graduate education to over 14,000 students in areas that benefit society in education, business, agriculture, engineering, the arts and other fields. UCR is the most ethnically diverse and fastest-growing campus in the system, with enrollment projected to grow to 20,000 students by the year 2010.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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