The Centre for Disciplinary Innovation (CDI) is part of a project funded by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation. The CDI is a focus for collaboration and innovation at the graduate level and beyond, complementing other activities initiated within the CRASSH themes Cultural Transmission, Disciplinary Change, The Future University, Cultures and Politics of the Transregional and, for 2013-15, The Location of Knowledge.  Since its start, the CDI has sponsored a wide range of activities focused around the following programmes at CRASSH:

Graduate/Faculty Research Groups
Mellon CDI Visiting Fellows Programme
Collaborative Teaching Fellowships
A series of conferences focused on disciplinary change across the Humanities, the first, Changing the Humanities/the Humanities Changing, in July 2009, coinciding with the University's 800th celebrations.  The follow-up event, The Future University was held on 30 June – 2 July 2011. A third Mellon CDI conference, The Location of Knowledge, was held on Friday 8 March 2013.

About the Consortium of Centres for Disciplinary Innovation

The CDI forms part of a Mellon-funded international consortium. The other partner humanities centres are The Franke Institute (University of Chicago), The Heyman Center for the Humanities (University of Columbia) and The Townsend Center (University of California at Berkeley).

Growing out of a Mellon-funded initiative at the Franke Institute (New Perspectives on the Humanities: Comparative Studies in Higher Education), the consortium will collectively address the problem of how universities in the twenty-first century can best respond to the challenge of disciplinary change in the humanities and social sciences (and beyond). Each of these universities has been characterised by their intellectual vitality and by the wish to reflect on the structures and procedures of disciplinary knowledge. The four Centers will pursue their programmatic activities according to the local strengths and needs of their institutions.

 Aims and Activities of the Consortium

The aim of the Consortium is to link disciplinary innovation with curricular change. At Cambridge, building on  programmes recently launched at CRASSH for graduate/faculty research groupus and for early career fellowships, the focus will be on disciplinary innovation at graduate level and on linking research to the curriculum. Drawing Cambridge graduates and faculty into the work of the Centre, the CRASSH programmes encourage the piloting of interdisciplinary courses at both graduate and undergraduate level.

The Chicago programme focuses on development in graduate education with a series of team-taught courses involving both Chicago faculty and invited faculty. The Columbia programme will sponsor a series of disciplinary retreats on the major disciplines to reflect on possibilities for new structures and linkages at graduate and undergraduate level. The Berkeley programme focuses on the undergraduate curriculum, tracing thematic 'threads' through multiple disciplines in relation to undergraduate concentrations. The consortium will meet annually during the project

Visiting Fellows


Lent 2016
Marjorie Garber (Harvard University)
Over the Influence

Easter 2016
Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht (Stanford University)
Why Prosody and Rhythm Matter


Lent 2015
Kwame Anthony Appiah (New York University)

Catherine Conybeare (Bryn Mawr College)

Easter 2015
Jerome McGann (University of Virginia)
Truth and Method; or Humanities Scholarship as a Science of Exceptions


Lent 2014
Mary Poovey (Samuel Rudin University Professor in the Humanities, New York University)
Working Outside my  Comfort Zone: A Literary Scholar Tackles Financial Modeling

Lent 2014
Mark Mazower (Ira D Wallach Professor of History, Columbia University)
Facism and Democracy Today: What Use is the Study of History in the Current Crisis?

Easter 2014
John Searle, (Slusser Professor of Philosophy, Berkeley, University of California)
Consciousness as a Problem in Philosophy and Neurobiology


Michaelmas 2012
Bruno Latour (Sciences Po Paris)
The Modes of Existence

Easter 2013
Cornel West (Princeton University)
Philosophy in the Public Sphere

Easter 2013
Judith Butler (Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley)
Understanding Society

Teaching Fellowships

The Mellon Teaching Fellowships have now come to an end and are no longer offered by CRASSH.

The Mellon Teaching Fellowships, part of the Centre for Disciplinary Innovation at CRASSH, are co-taught by two people from different disciplinary areas, Faculties, or Schools at the University of Cambridge. They are designed to encourage dialogue across disciplines, stimulate research-led teaching, or pilot a course for a new MPhil. or Tripos paper.

Mellon Teachiing Fellowships 2016-17

Michaelmas 2016
Gesture, Perception and Event
Catherine Pickstock (Divinity)
Heather Webb (MML)

Academia Meets Industry: creating long-term collaborations
Lionel Bently (Law)
Ananay Aguilar (Music)

Past Mellon Teaching Seminars

Michaelmas 2015
Material Culture: Crossing Disciplines and Analysing Things
Melissa Calaresu (History)
John Robb (Archaeology and Anthropology)

Michaelmas 2014
Religious Belief
Dr Daniel H Weiss (Divinity)
Dr Arif Ahmed (Philosophy)

Lent 2014
The Sensory Renaissance
Mary Laven (History)
Alexander Marr (History of Art)

Michaelmas 2013
The Uses of Psychoanalysis: Britain, France and the USA, 1920-2000
Professor John Forrester (HPS)
Professor Peter Mandler (History)

Lent 2013
Practising Re:Enlightenment: the experimental concept lab
Professor Clifford Siskin and Professor Peter de Bolla

Michaelmas  2012
Reproductive Control, Controlling Reproduction
Professor Sarah Franklin (Sociology) and Professor Martin Johnson (PDN).

Lent  2012
Ethics at the Intersection of Philosophy and Anthropology
Dr James Laidlaw (Social Anthropology, King's College) and Dr Hallvard Lillehammer (Philosophy, Churchill College).

Michaelmas 2011
A Cultural History of the History of Political Thought
Dr Istvan Hont (History, King’s College) and Dr Duncan Kelly (POLIS, Jesus College)

Lent 2011
Political Ecology of Climate Change in Africa
Dr Sharath Srinivasan ((CG+HR, POLIS, King's)
Dr Elizabeth Watson (Geography, Newnham)

East European Memory Studies: An Emerging Sub-Discipline
Dr Alexander Etkind (Slavonic Studies, King's)
Dr Harald Wydra (POLIS, St Catharine's)

Lent 2010
Music and Society

Professor Georgina Born (Sociology)
Dr Benjamin Walton (Music)

Michaelmas 2009
Performance: Flesh and Form
Dr Alyce Mahon (History of Art)
Dr Martin Crowley (French)

How to Apply

The Mellon Teaching Fellowships have now come to an end and are no longer offered by CRASSH.


Open to faculty members of the University of Cambridge

The deadline for 2016-17 Teaching Seminars is now closed.

CRASSH is now soliciting proposals from members of Cambridge University faculty for collaborative  seminar courses to be taught at CRASSH in Michaelmas Term 2016 or Lent 2017. Courses should be co-taught by two people from different disciplinary areas, Faculties, or Schools. Proposals should present their rationale in relation to interdisciplinarity and/or disciplinary innovation. These courses should not normally be ones that could be offered within a single Faculty or existing curricular structure. Proposals will be selected by a committee including the two Heads of Schools.

CRASSH seminar courses should be designed to encourage dialogue across disciplines, stimulate research-led teaching, or pilot a course for a new MPhil. or Tripos paper. They should be designed with graduate students (including PhD students) in mind as participants. The Teaching Fellowship scheme will provide compensation directly to the Faculties and/or colleges at the rate of £6.5K per fellow. Courses will count towards the Teaching Fellow's Faculty/University teaching stint and release them from other teaching during the term of their Fellowship and they will be expected to become part of the CRASSH research community. Information about previous recipients is available here.

Joint proposals, including a rationale, detailed description, outline syllabus and term requested should be submitted electronically to the Administrator, CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT, accompanied by both CVs. Prospective co-applicants are invited to consult the Director, Simon Goldhill,  about their proposed course and should have discussed their application ahead of time with Faculty and/or college, who should supply a letter of support to accompany application.


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk