The School for Cultural and Social Transformation (Transform) has been awarded a $517,000, three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to form an intersectional studies collective. The Transformative Intersectional Collective (TRIC) at the University of Utah will join similar groups at five other universties—New York University, the University of Southern California, Georgia State, and the University of Virginia – as part of a network to advance the field of Intersectional Studies on a national level.

“Intersectionality” describes the field of study that examines the interlocking dynamics of how race, gender, sexuality and (dis)ability, among other critical entities, intersect each other. Transform was formed as the expressed commitment to intersectionality by Ethnic Studies and Gender Studies, and strengthened with the later formations of the Pacific Island Studies initiative and Disabilities studies program. 

Given this background, Transform is prepared to launch a three-year action plan dynamically centered on intersectionality.  Dean Kathryn Stockton, who will also serve as the grant’s principal investigator, says “we continue thinking and working through this concept because of its history and impact in our fields, never mind our lives—while we also want to see it conceptually expand across disciplinary areas.”

During the first year of the grant, the TRIC will focus on intersectional pedagogy by spreading intersectional curricula among those faculty avidly seeking it. With the soon-to-be-selected Intersectional Pedagogy Fellows, and through webinars and panels featuring local, regional and national experts, programming will foster instructor expertise, provide examples of intersectional content and galvanize collective conversations as they build and broaden the regional Transformative Intersectional Collective.

Year two of the Mellon-endeavors will be concerned with enhancing existing intersectional research projects and encouraging new research explorations, with funding opportunities for groups or for individual researchers- who will be the Research Fellows. Scholars will organize “idea exchange” events which will bring together University of Utah scholars, regional, and national partners. The groups and Fellows will also digitize reflections on the process and progress of their work, thus leaving archival resources as reference to others who may later engage and teach intersectional research.

The third year of the grant will highlight and document intersectional praxis and community engagement, while strengthening the two-way flow of the TRIC. Intersectional Community Fellows – a mix of scholars and community organizers, will participate in community summits to share their projects, successes, and challenges. By gathering these partners, the TRIC will build a network of intersectional collaborations grounded in the lived experiences and felt needs of its communities.

This final year of the grant will also entail the creation of an engaging, collaborative publication that reflects on how the U’s TRIC practices intersectional change. This will the mechanism for dissemination of all that is learned in the creation of the Intersectional Studies Collective and about the intersectional praxis itself.

At five years-old, Transform already has two Mellon grants under their belt – the first was in 2018 to the Pacific Islands Studies initiative.  The Transformative Intersectional Collective (TRIC) Mellon Foundation recognizes the School for Cultural and Social Transformation, and more broadly the U, as a national leader in the field of Intersectional Studies. While our faculty are excellent scholars working in the forefront of Intersectional studies,” said Stockton, “we particularly honor the Black and Indigenous women who founded and coined the concept of intersectionality based on the complex, multiple conditions of their lived experiences.”

The TRIC will launch with a webinar, Intersectionality Here & Now, on February 25, 2-3:30pm. Learn more and register for this virtual event here.

Stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to get involved!