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Salem State University will create a national consortium of regional public universities to help institutions that serve traditionally underrepresented students develop courses in digital ethnic studies, a field that uses data visualization and other digital tools to highlight the experiences of underrepresented minority communities. 

“While many private universities have digital humanities courses, recent research shows that less than a quarter of public universities offer these opportunities despite high interest on campus,” Roopika Risam, Salem State’s chair of secondary and higher education, who will head the consortium, said in a press release. “In a digital world, we are risking a deepening divide when it comes to the stories we hear and who is telling them.”

The university announced Tuesday that it received a $3 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch what will be known as the Digital Ethnic Futures Consortium. Over the next three years, the network of universities will develop digital ethnic studies programming and models for incorporating the programs into the offerings of minority-serving institutions and especially diverse campuses. It will use foundation funds to distribute grants to 85 digital ethnic studies faculty members across the country.

Partner institutions include Texas Southern University, New Jersey City University and California State University, Fullerton.

The consortium “will develop more sustainable digital humanities projects, fellowships, curriculum, and campus infrastructure that centers our largely minority and largely first-generation student populations and the communities they call home,” Jamila Moore Pewu, an assistant professor of history at California State University, Fullerton, said in a press release.