Interdisciplinary Study and Latino Culture Are Focus of New NEH Grants

John Jay College faculty members have secured a number of major grants in the latest round of awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a testament to the College’s strength in the areas of ethnic diversity and interdisciplinary education.

Professor Richard Haw, a member of the English department and the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, won an award of $74,799 for “Reading Moby Dick and One Hundred Years of Solitude: The Integrated Humanities Project.” The funding will be used for faculty and curriculum development to create intensive interdisciplinary reading courses focusing on the two works by Herman Melville and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

In the same round of NEH grants, History Professor Fritz Umbach, who like Haw is affiliated with the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, won an award of $74,937 for “The Foodways and Humanities Project,” a multiyear collaboration between humanities and culinary arts faculty and students exploring Latino history and culture through food. Umbach is co-principal investigator for the study along with Professor Megan Joanna Elias of Queensborough Community College.

Latino culture also figures prominently in an NEH faculty award of $50,400 to Professor Benjamin Lapidus of the Department of Art and Music for his study of “The History of Spanish Caribbean Music in New York City and the Shaping of an International Sound, 1940-1990.”

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Jane Bowers was ecstatic at the latest grant awards. “Federal grants to support the humanities are few and hard to come by,” Bowers said. “That John Jay would receive three NEH grants in one year is a testament to the quality of our humanities faculty and affirms our standing as a liberal arts college. I am especially pleased that two of the awards reflect the College’s ethnic diversity, while the third grant for our Interdisciplinary Studies Program supports the program’s mission to explore the humanities from a multidisciplinary perspective — an approach to knowledge that is the hallmark of the ISP program and of John Jay College itself.”

The latest NEH grants bring to four the total awarded to John Jay scholars in 2012. Earlier in the year, Professor Jonathan Jacobs, Chair of the Department of Philosophy, won an award of $24,991 to launch a course exploring “Is Virtue Its Own Reward?”

“Four awards from NEH — this is really quite extraordinary,” said President Jeremy Travis. “It reflects well on the College’s new emphasis on the humanities.

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nationsIn teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit

For more information, call:

Doreen Viñas-Pineda 212-237-8645