ACM offers grad school fellowship

Gillian Klein, Staff Writer

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Luther is a member of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, a group which offers the Graduate School Exploration Fellowship Program. The program is a part of an initiative to diversify higher education faculty in the humanities.

This year Luther joined 14 other Midwestern colleges to collaborate under the ACM. The colleges within the ACM worked to conduct joint initiatives for their students. In 2016, the ACM created the GSEF Program. 

The first group of Luther students to begin working with the program started in 2016. One of those students was Jordan Boge (‘18). From May until early August, Boge researched cultural appropriation in the movie “Moana” at the University of Wisconsin at Madison alongside Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies Lori Lopez.

“This experience helped me uncover and show the relevancy of academia in our world,” Boge said. “I began forming ideas of how representation matters through research. That’s when I discovered I wanted to bridge academia and the making of real content.”

Currently, Boge is employed at CNN continuing similar research, an opportunity that began with the experiences GSEF provided him.

The program’s initial start-up in 2016 began with the search for funding. Liaison for the Fellows Program to Diversify the Professoriate Lily Lavner has a role in the search for funding the fellowship.

“As part of the advisory board, it is my job to write grants to fund the ideas the ACM presents to us,” Lavner said. “By researching, we found the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, who now funds us.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation strives to strengthen, promote, and defend the contributions of the humanities and arts as well as support the well-being of diverse and democratic societies.

Students interested in the program must apply and, with the assistance from their ACM campus contact, the application process can begin. Associate Dean and Director of Faculty Development, Jeff Wilkerson is involved in the application and program timeline.

“During students’ sophomore years, I look for candidates and have interested candidates approach to apply,” Wilkerson said. “I’m much like the glue that connects candidates to the program.”

Once the application is submitted, acceptance into the program is based on the Mellon foundation’s goals. The foundation and fellowship serve to support traditionally underrepresented groups pursuing careers in teaching and research at the collegiate level in the humanities or arts.

The GSEF classifies the following as underrepresented: African-Americans; Hispanics; Native Americans; Alaska Natives; Native Hawaiians; other Pacific Islanders; first-generation students; or those who have followed non-traditional pathways to college through societal, economic, or academic disadvantages.

Support from the GSEF can be anything from financial aid, to research experience, to mentoring students. Wilkerson shared why he believes this support fits the Luther and ACM academic goals for its students.

“Students should have a transformative experience,” Wilkerson said. “We are helping students discover how they fit into the world and how the world works.”

Through this support, students have the opportunity to research at one of the Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions and present their research afterwards.

The Big Ten Academic Alliance is made up of 15 Division I schools varying from Northwestern University to Purdue University. During the summer before a student’s senior year, they are paired with a professor at one of the 15 schools to conduct research alongside them. For students like Boge, the research was a turning point.

“I found my passion for research in uncovering the truths of this world,” Boge said. “You really have to love what subject area you study to embark on a journey like this.”

Looking ahead for GSEF at Luther, Boge also expressed his support in the continuation of this program after the hate incident on March 11.

“With recent events a lot of people want action on Luther’s campus right now,” Boge said. “This program works to decrease the diversity gap in higher education faculty. The best version of Luther is one that is an inclusive community.”

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