A year-long seminar for 2012 – 2013 on the topic of “Speciesism in biology, culture, and sociopolitics” has been funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation under their “Sawyer Seminar” program. These grants are designed to support comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments, melding together science and humanities. “Speciesism” generally refers to the view that unique natural kinds (species) exist and are an important structural element of biodiversity, and is often manifested specifically in the cultural view that humans are distinct from, and intrinsically superior to other forms of life. This seminar will engage academics from the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities for wide-ranging discussion about the sociopolitical, cultural, and scientific ramifications of speciesism and various world views that derive from it .
Two one-year graduate fellowships are available for academic year 2012-2013. These will have an annual fellowship stipend of $30,000 which is meant to support the fellows’ participation in the seminar and their dissertation research/writing. These graduate fellows will be responsible for assisting postdoctoral fellow Brian Swartz and principal investigator Brent Mishler in organizing, coordinating, and running the seminar. The graduate fellows must participate in each meeting of the seminar (two in late Spring 2012 and seven over academic year 2012-2013). Students can come from any department across the university, and will be chosen based on the relevance of their knowledge of the subject, their dissertation topic, and their ability to contribute to the seminar. There will be opportunities for collaboration on group publications, and support for writing the fellow’s dissertation.
To apply, write a short electronic letter to the PI of the grant, Professor Brent D. Mishler, at: firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m., Friday, March 23, 2012. More from Professor Mishlert: “In this letter, please describe your dissertation research, why you would like to participate in this seminar, and how you match the qualifications given above. Attach a CV, and give me three names and addresses (including email) of references — don’t ask them to write now (I will contact references for short-listed candidates). Mellon does not provide student fees or tuition in its grants, so a large stipend is provided to compensate. You should talk with your department; usually a department will pay fees for a student who lands a fellowship.”
(The Sawyer Seminar is named for John E. Sawyer, a former president of Williams College who also served as the Mellon Foundation’s third president.)