The University of New Mexico-Valencia campus says a new grant they recently received will be ‘revolutionary’ to their classes, spotlighting the humanities.

The grant, through the National Endowment for the Humanities, is titled ‘Centering Humanities Curriculum around Cultural Relevance at a Small, Rural, Hispanic-Serving Institution.'

The two-year project will create a culturally-sustaining humanities curriculum and provide undergraduate research opportunities emphasizing local Hispanic and Indigenous authors and history.

“Our goal is to create new curricular frameworks in several of our Humanities classes that emphasize culturally relevant and sustainable pedagogy in the classroom,” said Dean of Instruction and Chief Academic Officer Laura Musselwhite. “Our population at Valencia is 64% Hispanic/Latino, so we want to use local history as a theme in these classes and expand undergraduate research." 

According to Musselwhite, 71 applications were submitted for the grant, but only 16 were awarded; UNM-Valencia was one of them. The grant is $60,000 over the next two years, starting July 1, 2024.

“We have had grants in the past that allowed us to focus on STEM undergraduate research but we have said for a long time we want to expand it into non-STEM areas, so having this funding will put more emphasis on humanities undergraduate research. That's great -- it’s been a goal for a while," Musselwhite said. 

This is the first NEH grant the branch has received. 

“We have targeted five classes to begin with across various areas of Humanities, and then we want to expand it," Musselwhite said. “It’s going to provide a new way of looking at that subject matter for the faculty members and the students," she said. 

Musselwhite hopes that emphasizing the humanities will spark more student interest in the variety of educational programs at the school. 

"It will help us get the word across more effectively to students that the Humanities is an area where they can find careers and grow," she said.