Grant to Help Expand Environmental Studies Program
UM English professor receives National Endowment for the Humanities funding
OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi English professor will direct a multidisciplinary National Endowment for the Humanities grant to help further the university’s interdisciplinary minor in environmental studies.
Ann Fisher-Wirth, professor of English and director of the university’s environmental studies minor, is principal investigator for the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Humanities Connections Planning Grant. Grants under this program are intended to expand the role of the humanities in undergraduate curriculums at two- and four-year institutions.
“It is a great honor to receive this NEH grant and a wonderful next step in the development of environmental studies at the University of Mississippi,” said Fisher-Wirth, who joined the university in 1988. “As director of the interdisciplinary minor in environmental studies since the inception of the program, I am proud of everything we have accomplished thus far and eager to participate in the next steps of its growth and transformation.”
The grant is one of 18 Humanities Connections Planning Grants announced by the NEH, which is an independent federal agency created in 1965 that supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities.
The $34,891 grant to UM is for a project titled “Environmental Literacy and Engagement in North Mississippi.”
The project will enable the environmental studies program to redesign its gateway humanities course, ENVS 101: Humanities and the Environment, to become a yearlong, team-taught, two-course sequence. The course will emphasize the interdisciplinary connections of the humanities with the social and natural sciences, including biology, psychology and public policy leadership.
“This redesign is a logical next step as we seek to develop and expand the minor with the eventual goal of creating a major,” said Fisher-Wirth, who received the 2014 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teaching Award, the university’s highest honor for teaching.
A capstone program also will be created for the minor’s graduating seniors that will involve supervised internship experiences, both at Ole Miss and further afield.
“The College of Liberal Arts is extremely pleased to learn that the university’s environmental studies faculty are the recipient this year of an NEH planning grant,” said Donald Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and distinguished professor of modern languages.
“This grant is important recognition of the hard work by and collaboration among these dedicated faculty in furtherance of our interdisciplinary environmental studies program, its evolution and its betterment in support of students minoring in the discipline and taking its courses. Congratulations to Dr. Fisher-Wirth and all those who had a hand in developing and submitting the grant proposal and who have been working to develop the program on our campus.”
Many people helped in preparing the grant, Fisher-Wirth said.
“I’m especially grateful to professors Jay Watson, Jason Hoeksema and Laura Johnson – and to the whole team who met, discussed, planned and gradually formulated our proposal,” she said.
“I’m grateful also to professor Christian Sellar for his grant-writing advice, and the numerous members of the university administration and staff who were and are supportive of this grant and of environmental studies at the University of Mississippi.”
Earlier this month, the NEH announced $22.2 million in grants for 224 humanities projects across the country.
“In these somber times, when every individual, community and organization in America is feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it is a joy to be able to announce new projects that will produce vibrant humanities programs and resources for the reopening of our cultural centers and educational institutions,” NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede said.
“These 224 projects exemplify the spirit of the humanities and their power to educate, enrich and enlighten.”