March 28, 2024

West Chester University Receives Prestigious Mellon Foundation Grant to Launch the Women’s and Gender Studies Collection

For the first time in its history, West Chester University (WCU) has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation.

The Women's and Gender Studies Collection logo

The grant is part of the Mellon Foundation’s Affirming Multivocal Humanities initiative, which has allocated more than $18 million to support humanities-based learning at public colleges and universities across the nation. WCU’s grant will fund the creation of the Women’s and Gender Studies Collection, an innovative open educational resource that aims to publish and provide free and reliable information on race, gender, and sexuality.

The Women’s and Gender Studies Collection is the brainchild of Lisa Huebner, a WCU professor of women’s and gender studies. Huebner learned about the Mellon Foundation’s call for proposals in May 2023 from her department chair, Professor Joan Woolfrey, and quickly applied. The grant was awarded at the end of July 2023.

The Women’s and Gender Studies Collection will serve students, faculty, and staff within the discipline of women’s and gender studies as well as educators, families, and individuals beyond higher education, Huebner said. The collection will feature a wide range of formats including written, artistic, and audio/video materials that focus on the dissemination of free, trustworthy, and valid information about race, gender, and sexuality.

Receiving the Mellon Foundation grant is a dream come true for Huebner. She has spent her career, including several years in nonprofit work before joining WCU in 2007, making knowledge about race, gender, and sexuality free, accessible, and applicable to all.

“This project represents something I’ve tried to do throughout my entire professional life: bridging the gap between academic discourse and real-world application,” she said. “This site will be scholarly and offer content that’s accessible and engaging. Families will be able to use it, as well as teachers and even teenagers.”

The Mellon Foundation grant has already supported a series of free, open-to-the-public events that brought internationally renowned scholars, activists, and writers to WCU. It has also allowed students to be involved in designing the logo, researching content, and creating submission guidelines and review processes.

Part of the Women's and Gender Studies Collection speaker series included a presentation by scholar-activist and public intellectual Sara Ahmed at Sykes Student Union in February 2024.Jen Bacon, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, said the project, which is expected to launch in October, will elevate the discipline of women’s and gender studies, and strengthen WCU’s commitment to inclusivity in education.

“Securing this grant from the Mellon Foundation is a triumph for our Women’s and Gender Studies Department, the College of Arts and Humanities, and the University,” Bacon said. “Launching the Women’s and Gender Studies Collection will be a significant step toward broadening access to critical knowledge on race, gender, and sexuality.”

The inspiration for the collection is rooted in a conviction that providing accurate information about race, gender, and sexuality is crucial, especially in the current political and social climate, Huebner said. She has tapped several WCU departments and colleagues to collaborate on the project, including the Teaching and Learning Center and the Center for Women and Gender Equity.

“The reality that I have this opportunity to work with so many amazing people within my University to make this knowledge accessible to everyone — for free — is so exciting to me,” Huebner said.

The Collection is already seeking submissions and welcomes a diverse range of contributions. Submissions can include teaching materials, creative works like videos and visual art, scholarly papers, and more, if they are grounded in the discipline of women’s and gender studies. For written contributions, consistent formatting and citation styles are required, while audio and visual submissions should be in standard digital formats, captioned, and accompanied by a brief statement file. Interested contributors should email their work to Huebner at by May 31, and include their name, affiliation, contact information, and a brief biography.


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