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OU Humanities programs receive record-breaking grant

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A graphic celebrating the $500,000 grant received by six OU humanities programs.

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded $500,000 to six humanities programs at OU, becoming the largest ever grant provided to the university through the endowment.

The grants aim to support jobs impacted by COVID-19 within the humanities sector and were funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed by President Joseph Biden in March 2021.

Kimberly Marshall, the director of the OU Arts and Humanities Forum and leader of the “New Stories of the West, for the West” grant team, said in a Tuesday press release that the six projects represent the mission of OU Press to document and study the story of the western region of the United States, including the role of Native Americans as told by the Native Nations Center.

Understanding the diverse voices that have shaped this region, most especially those from Native North America … will help to establish a story of America better reflective of both this nation’s complex past and its idealism for the future,” Marshall said in the release.

The OU Arts and Humanities Forum will use the grant to establish a podcast titled “OUAH.FM,” which will “promote, celebrate and communicate the excellence of humanities faculty and programming at OU to a broader audience across the state” according to the release. 

World Literature Today, a multi-award-winning OU magazine, will use its funding to improve its digital platform along with the Oklahoma Weather Community Oral History Project, which plans to launch a digital portal detailing the history of Oklahoma’s weather community. 

OU Press and The Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair will increase their staffing to support their operations, while the OU Native Nations Center plans to use the funding to establish a community-based “Native Nations Center Imprint” of the OU Press, according to the release. 

“OU students have unparalleled opportunities to enhance their education when the Humanities institutions on our campus are strong and healthy,” Marshall wrote in an email to The Daily. 

Marshall wrote that this award shows that the humanities institutions at OU are “among the best of the best” and, through the help of this grant, the education fostered within the department can be made available to all students. 

“Humanists at OU change lives by fostering critical thinking and curiosity about diverse perspectives, tackling the biggest questions about the human experience and what it means to be an informed citizen in a multicultural democracy … the humanities institutions at OU can support that kind of education for all OU students.”  Marshall wrote. 

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