Mellon “Just Futures” Project

“Reimagining New England Histories: Historical Injustice, Sovereignty, and Freedom”


This grant-funded project is a collaboration between Williams College, including Williams-Mystic, Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ), and Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport Museum (MSM). Supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Just Futures Initiative, this initiative aims to tell a different, more complete story of New England and its global connections–past, present, and future–titled “Reimagining New England Histories: Historical Injustice, Sovereignty, and Freedom.”

One objective of this collaborative, interdisciplinary, public humanities project is to reshape the ways young people, communities, scholars, and college students understand the history and present-day of New England. Building upon generations of scholarship and community-led work, the project employs the sea as one lens to grapple with intertwined histories of Indigenous and African-American experiences in the Northeast and the closely related impacts of colonization and enslavement that have so deeply affected multiple communities. Equally important, the project foregrounds the continuous work Black communities and sovereign Native nations have undertaken to maintain freedom, self-determination, and cultural thriving in this region.

See below for further information and current projects.


  • The Reimagining New England Summer Institutes are a two-week enrichment program for high school and undergraduate students who are Native American/African/African American/Afro-Indigenous. During the two-week institute (one session for high school and one for undergraduates), students will work collaboratively as they engage in a series of talks and roundtables, museum and community center visits, strategy sessions on the meanings and purpose of "Just Futures." The institute will focus on resistance, healing, and community building as well as sovereignty, freedom and spirituality. Specific topics will include: communities' longstanding relationships with land and water, resistance to human trafficking and enslavement, Native American, African, Afro-Indigenous, and African American communities, social justice & resistance, historical and intergenerational trauma & healing, contemporary issues of justice and equity, water and land protections, community development, solidarities, and autonomy. Participants will gain exposure to a simulated college experience, learn to conduct scholarly research, have access to renowned collections, make connections to scholars and community leaders, and have an opportunity to meet and collaborate with peers throughout New England to develop plans, strategies, or programs that enrich communities and seek more just futures.

    This program will be hosted at Brown University. The undergraduate institute will take place June 12-24, 2022, while the high school institute will take place July 10-22, 2022. Application deadline is March 7. To learn more and to apply, please click HERE

  • The grant includes resources for the college to hire a two-year Visiting Faculty Fellow who will undertake project work as well as teach in related areas. We (grant co-PIs Christine DeLucia & Ngoni Munemo) envision adopting a recruitment and selection process similar to the Bolin Fellowship. We invite chairs of units interested in hosting this grant-funded fellow to complete this short Google Form by Friday, May 21. As this is an expressly interdisciplinary project, applicants will be asked to identify at least two academic units with which they might affiliate and/or offer courses. Regarding the search process itself, a call for applications will be sent out in summer 2021. Unit search committees would then review applications in September/October and submit videoconference interview lists and finalists to a Just Futures selection committee likely consisting of grant co-PIs Christine DeLucia & Ngoni Munemo, Associate Deans Jackie Hidalgo & Sara Dubow, Williams-Mystic partners Sofia Zepeda & Tom van Winkle, and Brown University grant PI Tony Bogues. The Just Futures selection committee will prepare a report to the CAP, which will then make the final selection, with the goal of hiring a fellow to begin work on Jan. 1, 2022.

    The draft position description for the Visiting Faculty Fellow can be found here.

  • In each of the project’s three years (2020-2023), the grant provides for the appointment of a Williams faculty fellow who will devote significant time to project activities, including participation in the multi-partner research cluster, campus programming, and outreach. In recognition of the time, effort, and knowledge required, the fellow will receive one course release. We invite expressions of interest from faculty with continuing appointments in all divisions whose work engages with any of the following, especially in ways centered in the American Northeast/New England and/or this region’s hemispheric and global connections:

    • Native American/Indigenous experiences, histories, cultures, politics, and expressions;
    • African-American experiences, histories, cultures, politics, and expressions;
    • Afro-Indigenous intersections, histories, and identities;
    • Critical examinations of settler colonialism and its legacies;
    • Critical examinations of racial slavery and its legacies;
    • Community-based and decolonial approaches to knowledge formation;
    • Public humanities and community-engaged forms of interpretation and expression.

    We will review expressions of interest from faculty with continuing appointments and submit our nominations to the CAP, which will make the final selection. If you are interested in becoming a Faculty Fellow in AY 2021-2022, please complete this short Google Form by April 1, 2021.

  • Among the anticipated outcomes of the grant is the creation of a decolonial archive that centers the voices, memories, and perspectives of Indigenous and African-American communities. In addition, the grant will also work towards an exhibition, at Mystic Seaport Museum (MSM), that provides a complex engagement with questions of race and sovereignty in the region’s history. We are eager to collaborate with faculty and staff responsible for and/or working with existing college collections--broadly conceptualized--to co-create, together with our partners at Brown University, Williams-Mystic, and MSM, the decolonial archive and museum exhibition. If you are interested in participating in this aspect of the grant, please complete this short Google Form by April 30, 2021.


    Applications are now being accepted for summer 2021 fellows seeking to participate in a new project entitled, Reimagining New England Histories: Historical Injustice, Sovereignty and Freedom. The Frank C. Munson Institute at Mystic Seaport, in collaboration with Williams College and the Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice at Brown University, will hold virtual classes to interrogate the region’s past. The history and legacies of settler colonialism, racial slavery, servitude, dispossession, Indigenous resistance and African-American strategies for fashioning pursuits of freedom will be considered. A distinctive feature of this summer program will be the framing of these topics within the context of New England’s maritime setting, an environment that fostered interaction, mobility, and exploitation.

    The Munson Institute is the leading, and often sole, center for teaching maritime history in the United States. It has offered graduate credit through the University of Connecticut for over 60 years while its faculty includes top maritime historians from across the United States.

    This summer, the Institute is joining in the multi-institutional project Reimagining New England Histories: Historical Injustice, Sovereignty and Freedom funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This enhanced summer session will expand the Munson Institute’s cadre of scholars with specialists from collaborating faculty and representatives from the region’s Native peoples.

    Applicants for the 2021 summer session may apply for one of the twelve fellowships being offered through the Mellon Foundation grant. These positions are most particularly intended for junior faculty and graduate students. We also encourage applications from the region’s tribal nations and African American communities. Each of the fellowships, set to run from June 28 – July 29, will be supported with a $2,000 stipend and the cost of book purchases.

    Additional information can be accessed here. For more information, please contact the Munson Institute's Director, Dr. Glenn Gordinier ([email protected]).

  • Beyond these granted-funded opportunities, we are in the early stages of developing an additional yearlong initiative, which we hope furthers the broader project. Tentatively titled, Crafting More Just Futures amid the Legacies of Enslavement and Colonialism: a year of programming and curricular connections, we are keen to continue and broaden the work of the Committee on Diversity and Community (CDC), which in 2020-2021 has been charged with “comprehensively engaging with Williams’s histories with the goal of imagining and crafting practices of communally accountable institutional memory that reflects the complexity and diversity of the College’s histories.” We would like to place Williams’ efforts around reckoning and repair in conversation with broader regional and global projects that grapple with the legacies of colonialism and enslavement and craft more just futures. In conjunction with those efforts, in 2022-2023, we would like to pursue a year-long curricular, co-curricular, and programming initiative on the model of previous efforts, such as The Book Unbound or Confronting Climate Change. Please fill out this Google Form if you would like to be part of the steering committee for this initiative, or if you would like to suggest programming or activities for that year. Current members of the research cluster in consultation with staff at the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will contact interested parties as we move further along with this initiative.


$4.9 million grant project to interrogate legacy of colonialism, subjugation in New England

Williams-Mystic partners in $4.9 million grant to examine historical injustice in New England

$4.9 million grant will support project to interrogate legacy of colonialism, subjugation in New England