Current Projects

Current Grand Research Challenge Projects

Read the news release announcing the current group of Grand Research Challenge Projects.

2023-2025 Projects

"Listening for the Long Haul: A Living History of Long COVID"

PI: Jennifer Brier, University of Illinois Chicago

“Listening for the Long Haul” joins Long Covid Justice (LCJ), a community-based organization, and UIC’s History Moves, a public history project led by Jennifer Brier, to produce a multifaceted community-centered history of Long COVID. We ask how public history can be useful in producing policies that are more responsive to individual and community needs in the face of pandemics and mass-disabling events, and in the process make us all healthier and more resilient.

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"Maya in the Global Midwest"

PI: Laura Horton, University of WIsconsin-Madison

“Maya in the Global Midwest” assembles a diverse team of community organizations from two Midwestern communities with speakers of Indigenous Mayan languages. Through a series of workshops, a community-based survey, and community-driven interviews, the project highlights community concerns, experiences, and strengths around issues of language access and language justice. The project is a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, Eastern Michigan University, and four local community organizations: Puentes and the Immigrant Worker Project, based in Ohio, and Pixan Konob’ Maya Q'anjob'al Language Justice Collective and The New American Welcome Center, based in Illinois.

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"The Flint Water Disaster Public Archive"

PI: Louise Seamster, University of Iowa

The “Flint Water Disaster Public Archive” will re-home public data that has been largely inaccessible to Flint communities—a form of data justice that is of urgent relevance to the history, present, and future of those communities. The project is a collaboration between the University of Iowa, University of Michigan, the Flint Democracy Defense League, and We the People of Detroit.

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“Archival Repatriation and Boarding School Healing: The Morris Indian Industrial School and White Earth Nation”

PI: Kevin Whalen, University of Minnesota, Morris

Archival Repatriation and Boarding School Healing” will bring archival records from the Morris Indian School to White Earth Nation, where they will be used in community meetings focused on healing from historical trauma. This project is a partnership between the University of Minnesota, Morris, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Niibi Center, a White Earth-based non-profit supporting tribal people in sharing and processing stories around boarding schools, forced removal, land loss and other historical traumas.

“Black Study and Creative Praxis in the Greater Midwest”

PI: Terrion Williamson, University of Illinois Chicago

“Black Study & Creative Praxis in the Greater Midwest” brings together scholars, artists, and organizers for a series of linked activities that will converge at the Third Biennial Black Midwest Symposium that will take place in Dayton, Ohio in October 2024. This project is a collaboration between the Black Midwest Initiative, Sinclair Community College, Dayton Metro Library, Central State University, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Belt Publishing, and Obsidian Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora.

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"Communiversities as education without walls: Building coalitions for liberatory education through the humanities"

PI: Asif Wilson, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

This project will create communiversities (community-based, people-centered popular educational spaces) in three midwestern cities (Chicago, Cincinnati, and Detroit) with long histories of educational enclosure and social movement organizing. In total, the three communiversity sites will bring together close to 60 K-12 students, community activists, and P-20 educators, who will engage in inquiry-to-action projects, co-designed and co-led by teams of university faculty, leaders at community-based organizations, and youth.

2022-2024 Projects

“Environmental Justice Worldmaking: Redistribution and Reciprocity for a Just Transition”

PI: Rose Brewer, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

“Environmental Justice Worldmaking” (EJW) centers ways that the humanities and humanistic social sciences can affect the just transformation of democracy. This project is a collaboration with Environmental Justice Health Alliance and Spelman College in Atlanta, and the Minnesota Environmental Justice Table and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. It aims to bring those communities most affected by climate crises in those cities into conversations about local solutions.

“Black Trans in the Americas”

PI: Aymar Jéan Christian, Northwestern University

“Black Trans in the Americas” is a community-based and community-led research partnership that aims to document and celebrate the myriad of ways that Black Trans people create community, build programming, and lead movements with local and global communities in the Americas. This project is a collaboration between Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the community-based organization Open Television.

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“Reclaiming Stories: (Re)connecting Indigenous Painted Hides to Communities through Collaborative Conversations”

PI: Robert Morrissey, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

“Reclaiming Stories” reconnects tribal knowledge-makers to culturally significant objects/beings that have long been inaccessible owing to location and to institutional attitudes in the museum and academic worlds that historically often ignored Indigenous voices. This project is a collaboration between the University of Illinois, the Myaamia Center at Miami University, and The Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, with the consultation of the Musée du quai Branly in Paris.

Reclaiming Stories Website  Read about project 

“Amplifying Mothers of Police Violence Survivors”

PI: Nadine Naber, University of Illinois Chicago

“Amplifying Mothers of Police Violence Survivors” seeks to overcome the problem whereby current prison reform and abolitionist frameworks do not value the trauma experienced by mothers of incarcerated individuals or realize the potential of mothers to create political change through advocacy and activism. This project is a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago and the Chicago-based organization “Mothers Activating Movements for Abolition and Solidarity" (MAMAS).

MAMAS Website

“The Latinx Obstetric Violence Project: Art and Literature as Tools of Reciprocal and Redistributive Knowledge”

PI: Vania Smith-Oka, Notre Dame University

“The Latinx Obstetric Violence Project” addresses the overlooked reality of obstetric violence through art and literature workshops, which bring together women, scholars, and artists who have portrayed violence against women in childbirth. This project is a collaboration between the University of Notre Dame, and La Casa de Amistad, a non-profit educational organization working with the South Bend Latinx community.

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