Mellon Scholars Conference 2023: Call for Proposals

This year’s USF Humanities Mellon Conference invites teaching and research proposals on the theme: Humanizing Education. 

Call for Proposals

Drawing work from scholars in the field of critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970; hooks; 1994), culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 2014) and community responsive pedagogy (Tintiangco-Cubales and Duncan-Andrade, 2021), we approach humanization as a process of nurturing critical consciousness and engaging creatively with the world in order to transform it.  

We recognize that humanizing education must be a collective practice in partnership with students and communities, in order to address structures that maintain social inequalities and hierarchies of human life. Our call for humanizing education is especially urgent given our current social context, in the continuing emergence from COVID-19 pandemic, amidst book bans and bans of Critical Race Theory, proposed bills to dehumanize trans students, and continued violences against communities of color. We are interested in teaching and research that centers on practices of  transformative learning, rather than transactional learning, and policies and practices that challenge a mythical and monolithic standard of knowing.

We seek proposals on teaching and research that nurture and value students’ full humanity and that focus on practices that contribute to an ecosystem of “Community responsive wellness,” that is, wellness which is “cultivated and sustained through healthy relationships that are responsive to the lived experiences and the historical and material conditions that shape them… WELLNESS grows ecosystems where people and communities experience place, power, purpose, awareness, resilience, empathy, hope, love, and joy.” (Community Responsive Pedagogy, 2020).    

We invite proposals that address some of the examples detailed below, and we also encourage proposals that promote equitable and humanizing practices in higher education. Examples may include:

  • Humanizing how we approach teaching the Humanities, both in pedagogy and curricula, through the Ignatian principle of cura personalis: care for the whole person.
  • Problematizing frameworks of diversity and inclusion by directly addressing power inequalities within classrooms, communities, and institutions.
  • Utilizing innovative pedagogies and practices that address student wellness in the classroom: e.g.) non-traditional grading systems, approaches that utilize art, music, and movement and student narratives.
  • Addressing urgent needs for mental health and wellness for students, faculty, staff, academic counselors, and administrators.
  • Creating transfer pathways between community colleges and four-year colleges that nurture and value students’ holistic well being as well as their academic success.

Format of Sessions

All sessions will be one hour long, and we welcome and encourage creative, participatory formats. Ideal sessions will be interactive and will provide attendees next steps, critical questions, takeaways, models, or other practical implementation ideas for participants to take back to their home institutions.

  • Individual presentations: Individuals are welcome to submit presentation ideas and will be paired with others presenting on similar topics.
  • Group presentations/Panel session: We welcome submissions that include multiple presenters (4 presenters maximum per panel), particularly when the presenters represent different roles or institutions (for example, a proposal including a community college student, a graduate student from another institution, and professor or administrator from a third institution would be especially welcome). Student panels are highly encouraged!  
  • Workshops: We invite proposals for interactive workshops that offer participants the opportunity for the audience to engage informally on a specific topic or project.
  • Mellon CCUP Grantee Roundtables: Roundtable sessions are specifically designated for Mellon Foundation grantees with Community College-University Partnership (CCUP) grants.  We invite these grantees to submit proposals for roundtable sessions intended for grantees to discuss shared challenges, strategies, and projects, in order to best fulfill the mission of their CCUP grants.

Preference will be given to submissions that include scholars and students of color, student collaborations, people with backgrounds historically underrepresented in the academy, and people with direct experience in community colleges.


  • Registration for the conference opens: May 15, 2023
  • Deadline for proposal submission: June 30, 2023 (EXTENDED)
  • Notification of submission status: July 10, 2023
  • Deadline for confirmed presenters to register for the conference: September 15, 2023 (EXTENDED)

Proposal Format

All sessions are one hour long.

Individual Presentation: Please submit an abstract (250-300 words) that describes your presentation and its relation to the conference theme of humanizing education.

  • Format: 12-14 minutes per presentation. Individual presentations will be grouped together

Group Presentation/Panel Session: Please include a session abstract (250-300 words) that describes your presentations and their relation to the conference theme of humanizing education. List all panelists in your session, providing titles and 100-word abstracts for each presentation.

  • Format: 12-14 minutes per presentation; 4 presenters maximum

Workshop: Please provide a detailed agenda of the workshop and a description of its objectives, structure, activities, and targeted participants (250-300 words). Include also the relationship of this workshop to the conference theme of humanizing education.

  • Format: 1 hour, prioritizing participant discussion and engagement

Mellon CCUP Grantee Roundtable: Please submit a proposal outlining the topics for discussion that may include challenges, strategies, and projects as they pertain to fulfilling the mission of CCUP grants (250-300 words). List the name(s) and title(s) of the roundtable facilitator(s).

  • Format: 1 hour of discussion, with the guidance of roundtable facilitator(s)