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Creating Inclusive Cohorts Training Program

Through collaboration between The RIGS Initiative, the Department of American Studies, and the Department of American Indian Studies, the American Studies graduate program has been awarded a “Creating Inclusive Cohorts” Training Program from the Graduate School Diversity Office, UMN. This award allows the American Studies graduate program to make first-year fellowship offers to six doctoral students entering the program in Fall 2019, in the field of critical indigenous studies.

This cohort will make a crucial impact throughout the university because the University of Minnesota is at the cutting-edge, the vanguard, of American Indian and Indigenous Studies internationally, our land-grant institution itself occupies indigenous lands, and the Twin Cities is home to one of the largest and most diverse urban indigenous communities in the US. To increase our cohort of under-represented graduate students who are working in critical indigenous studies would promote excellence and diversity throughout multiple university and local communities.

It is important to mention that there has been a long history of faculty excellence in the field of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, and with recent faculty hires, UMN is at an opportune moment to build on a long track record of training in this field. In fact, UMN has trained the third most American Indian and Indigenous Studies PhDs (50 since the late 1990s) in the country, and most of our graduates have gone on to academic employment. It is also crucial to mention that American Indians remain the single most underrepresented group in the ranks of academia.

Because the American Indian Studies Department does not yet have a graduate program, the majority of the indigenous students who have received PhDs in this subfield have come to the university through the American Studies Department. This department has been a beacon for diversity and excellence at UMN; it is internationally renowned for its pioneering research at the intersections of critical race studies and queer theory.

With this award, we will be able to admit six PhD students through American Studies, train them through the American Indian Studies Department graduate minor, the RIGS graduate minor, as well as interdisciplinarily across multiple departments and programs. Given the critical mass of units who have expertise in studying native histories, settler colonialism, indigenous cultural and political resistance, sovereignty and repatriation, the recruited students will have multiple intellectual intersections throughout the university. This cohort will help to showcase the future of graduate education, which we believe will best occur through collective support, mentorship, and interdisciplinarity.

We are delighted to have this opportunity, and we urge you all to help us quickly spread the word to prospective graduate students who are broadly engaged with critical indigenous studies to apply to the Department of American Studies Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota by December 1, 2018.