Professors Receive Grant to Support Health Services

Professor Jacqueline Rhodes and Assistant Professor Dawn Shoultz Opel, both faculty members in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, received a three-year, $140,000 grant from Humanities Without Walls (HWW) to create and sustain humanities-centered health service research collaboratives.

Their project, “Building Collectives in a Changing Healthcare Climate,” is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the MSU College of Arts & Letters’ Critical Diversity in a Digital Age Research (CEDAR) collective and The Ohio State University.

Directed by Rhodes, CEDAR supports research that critically addresses issues of diversity, inclusion, and social justice in digital technologies and cultures. “Building Collectives in a Changing Healthcare Climate” is the inaugural CEDAR-funded project and will focus on the role of emergent technologies in access to and equity of health care.

portrait of a woman in glasses and scarf
Dr. Jacqueline Rhodes


“We're really delighted and grateful to receive the grant,” Rhodes said. “The project makes visible the often hidden work of enhanced infrastructure and collaboration behind addressing issues of equity and justice. That ties to CEDAR's mission, which is to get beyond surface attention to diversity and get at the structural inequities that hold people back. Basically, this grant will help us help others make change, and that's really exciting.”

The project responds to the grand research challenge put forth by HWW, “The Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate.” Responding to this challenge, the project’s purpose is “to imagine and then implement interdisciplinary, community-engaged research to improve health outcomes and lives,” Opel said. Specifically, the project will create infrastructural support for humanities scholars to participate in collaborative research with clinicians and community partners in five major areas of research, including improving deliberative decision-making processes and coordination of care across clinical and community contexts.

portrait of a blonde woman in striped shirt
Dr. Dawn Shoultz Opel


Working with Department of English faculty at The Ohio State University – Associate Professors John Jones, Margaret Price, and Christa Teston – Opel and Rhodes will provide humanities researchers with training and support, facilitating research teams and developing resources to effectively participate in health services research in clinical settings. The grant also includes a Graduate Lab Practicum designed to train and support graduate students in the humanities interested in collaborative, interdisciplinary research. 

In 2019, the team will hold an interdisciplinary health services research symposium on Michigan State University’s campus and at Sparrow Hospital in collaboration with the Sparrow/MSU Center for Innovation and Research, where Opel has served as a faculty fellow.

Based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities and funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, HWW aims to create new avenues for interdisciplinary collaborative research, teaching, and the production of scholarship in the humanities, forging and sustaining areas of inquiry that cannot be created or maintained without cross-institutional cooperation.

To follow the progress of the “Building Collectives in a Changing Healthcare Climate” project, visit the College of Arts & Letters website.