Undergraduate diversity institute in philosophy receives Mellon grant

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The American Philosophical Association (APA) has received a major grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support and expand undergraduate diversity institutes at universities such as Penn State. The grant will provide $600,000 over three years for these institutes in philosophy, including the expansion of the Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institute (PIKSI) program and the development of infrastructure to support it and other undergraduate diversity institutes.

Through this grant, the APA will provide funding to increase the length and number of participants in the PIKSI program at Penn State’s Rock Ethics Institute, now in its 10th year and to found a second PIKSI program based in Boston, which will also be supported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts Boston. The 10th annual PIKSI will take place June 11 to 22 on the theme of "Philosophy and Social Justice." More information is at http://rockethics.psu.edu/education/piksi.

PIKSI was founded to encourage students from groups currently underrepresented in philosophy — people of color; the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community; women; people with disabilities; and people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds — to pursue advanced studies in philosophy and continue on to the professoriate. In addition, the grant will allow the APA to provide infrastructure to support these and other undergraduate diversity institutes through networking and professional development opportunities, outreach and advertising, and data gathering efforts.

Sarah Clark Miller, acting director of The Rock Ethics Institute, said, “The Rock Ethics Institute is appreciative of the Mellon Foundation and the APA for their support of vital efforts to increase diversity in the discipline of philosophy, of which PIKSI is one great example. The grant is a wonderful way to mark the Rock’s 10th year of partnership with PIKSI and to celebrate its growth in the form of PIKSI in Boston."

Eva Feder Kittay, chair of the board of PIKSI at Penn State’s Rock Ethics Institute and faculty member at Stony Brook University, said, “The joint efforts of dedicated APA members, along with the financial support of the APA and Penn State, have produced a summer program whose merit has just been recognized and rewarded by this APA-sponsored Mellon Foundation grant. We thank the Mellon Foundation for its generosity, which will allow us to continue the work and expand PIKSI’s influence.”

Sally Haslanger (MIT), co-founder of PIKSI in Boston, said, “The lack of diversity in philosophy is in striking contrast to other humanities and social science disciplines. The Mellon Foundation's generous funding is much needed and will make a huge difference in supporting a wide range of efforts to bring about lasting change in the field.”

Of the grant, APA Executive Director Amy Ferrer said, “The APA is grateful to the Mellon Foundation for their generosity and for supporting the APA’s commitment to addressing philosophy’s lack of demographic diversity. We look forward to continuing to work with PIKSI, as we have over the last decade, and with other undergraduate diversity institutes on efforts to plug the leaky pipeline in philosophy and ensure the strength and diversity of the field for the future.”

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Last Updated May 19, 2016