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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

Professor collaborates on university’s largest Mellon Foundation grant

The Mellon Foundation – the nation’s largest funder of the arts, culture, and humanities – recently awarded the University of South Carolina a $500,000 Mellon grant for a three-year project to increase civic engagement and scholarship. It is one of 26 grants awarded to institutions of higher learning. 

The university’s newly-formed Humanities Collaborative applied for the grant to advance interdisciplinary collaborations and support ongoing programs among faculty, students, and members of the public. Professor Thomas Crocker is one of the faculty members working on the grant, titled “Civic Engagement, Voting Rights, and the Founding Documents at the University of South Carolina.” 

“I am excited to play an essential part in this important project, which will strengthen research and teaching related to the founding documents initiative on campus,” Crocker says. “We expect this programming to enrich intellectual life within and beyond the campus community at the University of South Carolina.” 

Beginning in fall 2023, the project will examine how anti-majoritarian institutions work in tandem with anti-democratic practices in American politics through analysis of key historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the Emancipation Proclamation.  

Alongside Professor Woody Holton (History), Crocker will coordinate several research programs, including a monthly seminar and a scholarly conference to investigate the struggle for ballot access from the founding era to today. The grant will also sponsor a series of campus workshops and public events related to civic engagement, voting rights and their relationship to the founding documents. 

“This project will enrich understanding of the tensions that exist within American constitutionalism, particularly by increasing knowledge and understanding of voting rights and ballot access, issues that remain important for all citizens today.” 

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