MSUToday
Published: June 20, 2017

Mellon grant to support values-based metrics for the humanities and social sciences

Contact(s): Ryan Kilcoyne College of Arts and Letters office: (517) 884-4478 kilcoyne@msu.edu

To support the Humane Metrics for the Humanities and Social Sciences initiative, or HuMetricsHSS, Michigan State University has received a $309,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The collaborative HuMetricsHSS pilot aims to create a values-based framework that will enable humanities and social science scholars to tell more textured stories about the impact of their research and teaching.

The HuMetricsHSS initiative is led by an international group of principal investigators, including Christopher Long, dean of the College of Arts & Letters and professor of philosophy.

“We are reverse-engineering the way metrics have operated in higher education,” Long said. “We begin not with what can be measured technologically, but by listening to scholars themselves as they identify the practices of scholarship that enrich their work and connect it to a broader public.”

In an era in which metrics increasingly shape how scholarship is practiced and evaluated, HuMetricsHSS takes an innovative approach that begins by identifying values that enrich practices of academic study in order to expand on what counts as a scholarly contribution, he said.

By creating a more “humane” metrics framework, the initiative seeks to diminish the broad reliance on metrics that either requires value as reflected in neutral indicators, such as citations, or that fails to consider the question of value at all in a scholar’s work. Instead, HuMetricsHSS will advance a practices-based approach that is holistic, reflective and transparent.

“When what is measured is what counts, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our metrics are shaped by our values and that our practices are not undermined by what can be counted,” Long said.

The Mellon grant funds an 18-month pilot that will include a series of workshops bringing together scholars from a variety of institutions to identify and define values and practices that enrich scholarship. From these workshops, the HuMetricsHSS team will further refine their approach to better recognize, promote and nurture scholarly practices by creating a small set of use cases for applying the values-based framework. 

To support the Humane Metrics for the Humanities and Social Sciences (HuMetricsHSS) initiative, MSU has received a $309,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

To support the Humane Metrics for the Humanities and Social Sciences (HuMetricsHSS) initiative, MSU has received a $309,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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