Holy Cross Professors’ Research to Address HIV Stigma, Racial Equity in Health and the Impact of Local Poetry in Worcester

aerial drone image of the Holy Cross and surrounding Worcester, MA

The initiative was sponsored by an $800,000 Mellon Foundation grant

Holy Cross announced the recipients of the "Scholarship in Action" grants for the 2021-2022 academic year, an initiative that advances impactful Worcester-based faculty research with community partners and provides valuable experiential learning opportunities for Holy Cross students.

The three-year research grants will enable Holy Cross faculty and student researchers to work with Worcester community partners on projects ranging from fighting HIV/AIDS stigma to supporting racial equity training for health care providers, and making poetry more accessible and more connected to Worcester's natural environment.

Professors Susan Elizabeth Sweeney (English), Tsitsi Masvawure (Health Studies) and Munya Munochiveyi (History) are the recipients of the fourth cycle of Scholarship in Action grants, which enable the following research projects in the city.

Susan Elizabeth Sweeney, distinguished professor of arts and humanities in the English department at Holy Cross, is collaborating with the Worcester County Poetry Association to identify, mark and celebrate sites in the city associated with the life or work of a major Worcester poet (Stanley Kunitz, Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Olson, Frank O'Hara, Etheridge Knight, Mary Fell, Christopher Gilbert), with the goal of showing how poetry helps people understand their own connection to the places where they live and work.

In collaboration with AIDS Project Worcester, one of the oldest community-based AIDS service organizations in the city, Tsitsi Masvawure, professor of practice in health studies in the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, is working to draw attention to the persistent problem of HIV-related stigma by documenting the organization's HIV work in Worcester over the past thirty years.

Masvawure, together with Munyaradzi Munochiveyi, associate professor in the history department and director of Africana studies, is also partnering with the Family Health Center of Worcester to develop a program that helps health center providers better understand racial equity and respond to racism in health care.

Sponsored by an $800,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 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 humanities can play in nurturing civic engagement.

Now in its fourth cycle, the Scholarship in Action initiative has supported sixteen research grants in the city that have resulted in collaborative work with the Latino History Project, Refugee Artisans of Worcester, the Ecotarium, the Worcester Historical Museum, Burncoat Middle School, Worcester's Hip Hop Congress and Music Worcester.

"What has made Scholarship in Action so successful for the past three years is the fact that knowledge production for the project has been a collaborative venture where communities are at the center of the process from start to finish," said Mary Conley, director of Scholarship in Action. "I look forward to building on this momentum, as well as deepening the College's commitment to support the local community."

The fifth Scholarship in Action grant cycle for the 2022-2023 academic year is currently underway and the deadline for completed applications is February 7, 2022. Research will begin in summer 2022.

Worcester community organizations 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 an academic year.

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