Niagara University has been awarded a three-year Humanities Connection grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the development of a new Vincentian social justice minor. Fewer than 3% of colleges and universities nationwide received this prestigious grant, which will also support faculty development and collaboration on the topic of social justice.

The new minor will enable Niagara’s undergraduate students to develop an interdisciplinary curricular pathway through the General Education curriculum and will include humanities-focused social justice courses, content, and experiential learning. The combination of humanities and social justice will prepare students to participate in a culturally diverse world and to advocate for social justice by developing critical thinking skills, promoting cultural understanding, and empowering them to explore complex, emotion-laden issues of diversity and oppression.

The social justice focus aligns with Niagara’s Catholic and Vincentian mission and its broader role in the community as an anchor for economic, community, health, educational, and social development efforts for the county and region.

Dr. Paula Kot, associate professor of English; Dr. James McCutcheon, chair of the modern and classical languages department; Dr. Donna Thompson, professor of psychology; and Dr. Lisa Williams, associate professor of management, will lead the development of the minor and work with other faculty advisors across a variety of disciplines. In addition, the university’s Castellani Art Museum will play a key role in providing opportunities for experiential learning, including a planned faculty-curated exhibit of artwork on social justice themes to roll out the new minor in 2026.   

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov.

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