This undated photo from UArizona Special Collections’ Southwestern and Borderlands Photograph Collection shows the border between Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, along International Street. (Courtesy of University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections)
This undated photo from UArizona Special Collections’ Southwestern and Borderlands Photograph Collection shows the border between Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, along International Street. (Courtesy of University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections)

Mellon Foundation Grant Will Support Research and Storytelling on U.S.-Mexico Border

The $750,000 grant to University Libraries will allow researchers to produce open-access humanities research from the border for both academic and popular audiences.
May 21, 2020
Shan Sutton
Shan Sutton
Megan Senseney
Megan Senseney
Verónica Reyes-Escudero
Verónica Reyes-Escudero

The University of Arizona has received a $750,000, three-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to integrate library services into data-intensive research to produce open-access humanities scholarship on the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

The project, "Aligning Library Services with Data-Intensive Humanities Research: Modeling Support for Open Scholarship through Data Storytelling and Digital Publishing on the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands," will disburse grants to research teams at the University of Arizona through a competitive process. Funded projects will employ a portfolio of University Libraries services and expertise encompassing scholarly communication, open access, data management and curation, data science, text and data mining, GIS and distinctive archival collections on the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

University Libraries – the unit that houses campus libraries, Special Collections and the University of Arizona Press – is "uniquely positioned to make these advancements in how academic libraries can simultaneously integrate into faculty research workflows, advance borderlands research, and facilitate the use of open access to maximize global access to the resulting scholarship," said Shan Sutton, dean of University Libraries.

Sutton is the principal investigator for the project; the co-principal investigators are Megan Senseney, head of the Office of Digital Innovation and Stewardship, and Verónica Reyes-Escudero, head of Special Collections.

The project will provide open access to all of its research findings, including the use of data storytelling methods, to engage both academic and popular audiences while establishing a unified portfolio of data-focused library services that can inform the development of similar models at other academic libraries. 

"This support from the Mellon Foundation underscores the University of Arizona's leadership in leveraging the expertise of libraries to advance scholarship, access and data science," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "This project is an incredible example of how the humanities and humanistic social sciences advance critical thinking and global understanding in the Fourth Industrial Revolution."

"The project's emphasis on open access through data storytelling and digital publishing will crucially ensure its impact across the United States, Mexico and around the world. This principle, as well as the model's potential for replicability at other institutions, strongly aligns with university-level priorities around leadership in open access and data-driven research," said Liesl Folks, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

"The 'default to open' approach integrates values that are important to our organization: diversity, equity and inclusion," added Sutton. "Our emphasis on research that directly involves members of diverse borderlands communities is reflective of the University of Arizona's commitment to being a national leader among Hispanic-Serving Institutions."