With strategic funding UCLA received from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Mellon Data & Social Justice Curricular Initiatives Program and the Center for Community Engagement is pleased to announce new teaching incentive grants for enhancing course offerings at UCLA.

We will offer awards to research accounts of $8,000 to develop new graduate courses to teach in the areas of critical data studies, data & society and digital humanities, using social justice frameworks. We are particularly interested in supporting courses utilizing a community-engaged pedagogy in relation to both Los Angeles and beyond. These new courses will contribute to enhancing offerings in the Divisions of Humanities and Social Sciences at the graduate level. The faculty award recipients will form a cohort of colleagues who convene quarterly to shape a broader data-centered social justice curriculum, reaching across academic departments at UCLA.

The Data & Social Justice Teaching Grant recipients will then work with their department chair to schedule and teach their new course during AY 2023-24, 2024-25 or 2025-2026. Courses may also be cross-listed. 

Each grant recipient will receive an award of $8,000 to be transferred to the awardee’s research account.


UCLA ladder faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences


Mellon Social Justice Teaching Grant recipients will participate in the following activities during Academic Year 2023-2024:

  • An initial gathering pre-Fall quarter with a focus on social justice pedagogy and community-engaged course development
  •  A once-per-quarter meeting of the Data & Social Justice Teaching Grant program cohort to advance their work through innovative course design, culminating in a fully developed new course syllabus by Spring Quarter 2024 and a presentation of course designs through the Center for Community Engagement’s pedagogy workshop series.

Application deadline: March 23, 2023

To apply, submit the following:

  1. Letter of application that addresses the following:
    • Proposed new course topic in critical data studies or digital humanities
    • How the proposed course builds on your research and teaching experience
    • How the proposed course would contribute to building curricular offerings focused on data, society, and social justice
    • If your proposed course would utilize community-engaged pedagogy, identify prospective community partners and describe your prior experience with community-engaged work 
      Indicate whether you propose to offer this course within your home department or another academic unit (Digital Humanities, Masters in Social Sciences)
    • If your proposal is to offer this course within your home department, provide an endorsement letter from your department chair confirming that this new course has the support of the department and can be offered as a department based and/or cross-listed course within the next two academic years
    • If the proposal is to offer this course outside your home department, provide an endorsement letter from your department chair and the outside unit chair.
  1. Curriculum Vitae

Please submit you application materials to the Center for Community Engagement email account:

For further information about the Mellon Social Justice Teaching Incentive Grant program, please contact Dr. Munia Bhaumik, Program Director of the Mellon Social Justice Curricular Initiatives (

The following cohort represent the inaugural recipients of the Mellon “Data, Justice, and Society” course development grants (see Faculty Mellon Awards). Their innovative course designs significantly contribute to the growing curricular initiatives at UCLA designed to teach students about critical and applied approaches to data through various pedagogical frames: community-engagement, digital humanities, and critical theory.

David MacFadyen

David MacFadyen

Professor, Comparative Literature and Musicology

Employing a Digital Humanities framework, Professor MacFadyen is developing a course titled “Freedom of Speech in Russia: Decentralized Tools for Musicians and Journalists” which offers students an opportunity to create a blockchain-based and anonymized social justice-oriented publishing platform. The impact of this digital tool will be to launch an unforgeable and decentralized media platform for displaced people, many of whom have been impacted by the Russian war against Ukraine. In addition to nearly two million persons who have been displaced by this war, the rights of journalists, artists, and protestors in the region have been suppressed while disinformation has spread. In constructing a blockchain news platform in collaboration with students, MacFayden will address these intersecting crises of rights by launching a new digital space where verifiable, published content which counters this political repression and violence is publicly accessible.

Davide Panagia

Davide Panagia

Professor and Chair, Political Science

Based on his current research ““#datapolitik: On the Political Theory of Data,” Professor Panagia is developing a course for a social justice-oriented course which exposes students to developments in new forms of critical thinking for the study of data and society. The course proposes to look to the changing nature of political thinking given the emergence of data and algorithms as the principal media in contemporary democratic life. The course will ask students to interrogate familiar concepts in the history of political thought (freedom, justice, equality, race, ethnicity, gender) in relationship to new and emerging media and the expectations and claims these media place on users. The learning objective of the course is to study political ideas in relationship to, and embedded with, the specific medium of data.

Miriam Posner

Miriam Posner

Assistant Professor, Information Studies and Digital Humanities

“Data from the Margins”

Professor Posner is developing a course in community with fellow social justice-minded data

Practitioners. She will teach students about how data has paradoxical relationship. The course will analyze how, on the one hand, data has a history within a long tradition as a weapon of discrimination; alternatively, oppressed communities have an equally long tradition of reconceiving, reworking, and remaking data in order to fight back. Her innovative course design will consult activists and scholars who are making change for their communities as they challenge everyone to rethink what data can do. Specifically, she will be situating data studies in relation to a growing body of critical work by Black, indigenous, and/or feminist scholars. Moreover, employing a digital humanities framework, students enrolled in Posner’s course will have the opportunity to combine readings with hands-on data exercises, framed as provocations, making use of the p5 JavaScript library developed here at UCLA for computer generated art practice.

Nicholas Shapiro

Nicholas Shapiro

Assistant Professor, Institute for Society and Genetics

Building on the work he began as a Chancellor’s Award for Community-Engaged Scholars recipient, Professor Shapiro will be developing a course titled “Science, Mass Incarceration, and Accountability.” The Mellon grant will enable him to refine and properly scaffold a critical data studies intervention into a course about mass incarceration. Shapiro is designing the course as being split into two complementary halves. The topics of the first half will include: a general introduction to mass incarceration and what data can and can’t tell us about this archipelago of nearly seven thousand carceral facilities, unethical scientific knowledge extraction from incarcerated people, carceral tech, and the conflicts of interest and biases of medical examiners that are supposed to be the sources of biomedical accountability for deaths that occur in custody. The second half moves into the nitty gritty details of the data practices of medical examiners that result in death determinations for people who die in the custody of law enforcement. Moreover, students will be introduced to how to adapt a protocol for analyzing autopsies in relation to the needs of a community partner and the parameters of the local medical examiner.

Veronica Terriquez

Veronica Terriquez

Director of the Chicano Studies Research Center Professor of Chicana/o and Central American Studies and Urban Planning

Professor Terriquez is designing a course titled “Community-Engaged Research Methods: Surveying Racially Diverse Youth and Workers” which will train students in designing, drafting, piloting, and administering a new survey focused on transitions to adulthood. She proposes to guide students in designing a survey and gathering extensive data on the workforce development, labor rights, education, health, mental health, and civic engagement of young people residing in BIPOC communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The course will expose students to the historical development of racial statistics, the role of racial statistics in contemporary life, and critical quantitative science. It will also include testing questions on racial identity and attitudes; gender identity; workforce development; labor rights; healing and wellness; and other topics determined by community partners serving Latinx, AAPI, Black, and Indigenous youth. Additionally, students will learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different survey sampling methodologies aimed at gathering data from BIPOC youth, low-wage workers, and students. Specifically, she hopes to invite and collaborate with the following community partners: Future Leaders of America (Oxnard), InnerCity Struggle (Eastside of Los Angeles); Community Coalition (South Central LA); Loud4Tomorrow (Delano); 99Rootz (Merced); Resilience OC (Santa Ana); MidCity CAN (San Diego); Youth Together (Oakland); Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition (San Bernardino/Riverside). These 501(c)3 non-profit organizations are all currently part of California Freedom Summer, a participatory action research course on youth civic engagement, which Terriquez leads.