Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series: Language Discrimination in Fragile Communities


The Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series on Language Discrimination in Fragile Communities is organized around four major themes:

  1. Minorities, underrespresented communities and language-based discrimination
  2. Linguistic diversity in education
  3. Multilingualism, immigration and identities
  4. Indigenous and endangered languages

The leaders of this series are Dr. Edna Andrews, Dr. Lee D. Baker, and Dr. Liliana Paredes, all from Duke University. There are also more than 20 faculty fellow from institutions across North Carolina.

The Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series will produce a peer-reviewed volume of articles devoted to the series and a documentary film that will include footage of the speaker series, as well as interviews with the presenters and the participants.


Duke University, with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is offering (1) a PhD dissertating fellow and (2) a graduate RA-ship for the Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series on the theme of “Language Discrimination in Fragile and Precarious Communities.”  

The awards would become available as soon as the Duke campus resumes "in person" events in August 2021.

The seminar is hosted by Duke University and includes faculty fellows from four other local universities. The series is broadly interdisciplinary in nature and includes faculty fellows working in the humanities, social sciences, natural and biological sciences and professional schools (including Environmental Sciences, Law, Medicine, and Public Policy.)

The applicant’s area of research should engage themes directly related to the seminar, which emphasize social science and humanities approaches to the major themes of the seminar focusing on (1) minorities, underrepresented communities and language-based discrimination, (2) linguistic diversity in education, (3) multilingualism, immigration and identities, and (4) indigenous and endangered languages.

The PhD fellowship is funded at $24,3000 per year (one total). The RA-ships are funded at $3,000 per semester (two total).

Eligibility: Applicants must be currently in a Duke PhD program.

Responsibilities: The PhD dissertation fellowship requires that themes and research emerging from the Mellon Sawyer series, Language Discrimination in Fragile and Precarious Communities, be incorporated into the PhD candidate's dissertation, and that the PhD fellow attends and participates fully in the lecture series. The RA-ship also requires that the graduate student participate fully in the lecture series.

Submission: Please submit an updated c.v. and statement of how the Mellon Sawyer Series fits in with your research to Cathy Lewis (, grants specialist. We encourage applicants to submit materials by August 15, 2021.