Holy Cross Professors’ Research to Address Children's Learning in Museums, Adolescent Summer Reading, Food Equity and Latino History in Worcester

Worcester skyline is seen here from the Holy Cross campus. Photo by Hui Li '21

Initiative sponsored by Mellon Foundation grant

The College of the Holy Cross announced the recipients of the "Scholarship in Action" grants for the 2019-2020 academic year, an initiative advancing Worcester-based faculty research with community partners that makes a lasting impact and provides rich experiential learning opportunities for Holy Cross students.

The four research grants will enable faculty and students to work with Worcester community partners on diverse projects ranging from children's learning through museum exhibits, middle-school summer reading initiatives, food equity among Worcester’s youth and the city's Latino history.

Sponsored by an $800,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation over the course of five years, Scholarship in Action enables Holy Cross faculty, students and community partners to engage in diverse projects showcasing the significant role that the liberal arts, and the humanities in particular, can play in nurturing civic engagement and partnership.

"In this first year of the Scholarship in Action initiative, I've been impressed with the creative ways our faculty have collaborated with community partners to align their scholarly interests with the needs of the community," said Holy Cross Provost Margaret Freije. "My hope for the future is that we will continue to develop new partnerships that will allow us to work together to contribute to the prosperity and civic development of the community.”

Professors Florencia Anggoro (Psychology), Lauren Capotosto (Education), Daina Harvey (Sociology), Justin Poché (History) and Cynthia Stone (Spanish) are the recipients of the second Scholarship in Action grant cycle, with the grants enabling the following research projects in the city.

With her expertise as a cognitive developmental psychologist, Florencia Anggoro, associate professor of psychology, will collaborate on research with EcoTarium, the children’s museum of science and nature in Worcester. The primary goal of this research is to improve our understanding of how children learn in informal settings, including museums and science centers and will result in the renovation of the EcoTarium's early childhood science exhibits.  

As a specialist of adolescent literary instruction, Lauren Capotosto, assistant professor of education, will work with Burncoat Middle School on a project aimed to increase adolescents’ book access and reading engagement through a justice-oriented summer reading initiative.

With his expertise as a sociologist of food and the environment, Daina Cheyenne Harvey, associate professor of sociology, has partnered with the Community Harvest Project and South High School to develop a nutrition curriculum that will address food equity among Worcester’s youth and a larger study about food movements in urban spaces.

Given their longstanding work on Latino history, Justin Poché, associate professor of history, and Cynthia Stone, professor of Spanish, have partnered with the Latino History Project of Worcester and with the Worcester Historical Museum to expand the Latino History Project’s archive and showcase it in public-facing digital form. Their work will lead to a 2021 exhibit at Worcester Historical Museum that will narrate and document the diverse and dynamic history of the Latino experience in Worcester.

The third Scholarship in Action grant cycle is currently underway and the deadline for completed applications will be in early February 2020. Research will begin in summer 2020.

Worcester community partners who are interested in pursuing a Scholarship in Action grant are encouraged to contact Director of Scholarship in Action Mary Conley (mconley@holycross.edu) to discuss potential strategies to develop their project idea. The projects must be long-term, sustainable initiatives that will last beyond a single semester or academic year.