The Mellon Digital Humanities Initiative for Engaging Undergraduates with the Local Community, also referred to as the Mellon Digital Humanities Initiative or MDHI, promotes the incorporation of digital technologies to foster meaningful interactions between Lehigh undergraduates and the surrounding community.

Through a generous 3-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the MDHI focuses on strengthening partnerships between Lehigh and Bethlehem to develop collaborative approaches that document social change and spur meaningful inquiry within the community.

The Community

For more than a century, the mighty Bethlehem Steel anchored Lehigh University’s hometown, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Now that Bethlehem Steel is gone, the city is experiencing economic, social and cultural transformations while in transition to a post-industrial future. Like other American cities, Bethlehem confronts issues of immigration, education, religion, economic hardship and revitalization, and the complexities of ethnic, racial and class diversity. In South Bethlehem, the area of town where the Bethlehem Steel plant stood, where the past and present day population is comprised of residents of many different nationalities and identities, and where Lehigh University is situated, all of these issues are especially evident. The Mellon Digital Humanities Initiative provides a focus on collaborative approaches to documenting social change and spurring meaningful inquiry within Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley.

The Initiative

The objective of the Mellon Digital Humanities Initiative is to promote the incorporation of digital technologies across the humanities for the purpose of fostering meaningful interactions between Lehigh faculty and undergraduate students and the surrounding community of Bethlehem, with a particular emphasis on South Bethlehem. The MDHI will meet these goals by supporting The Mellon Digital Humanities Initiative for Engaging Undergraduates with the Local Community innovative curriculum development, offering workshops to equip more faculty with enhanced skill sets in digital humanities, nurturing partnerships with community organizationshosting a film and lecture series, encouraging undergraduate humanities research and hosting a culminating Commuunity Conference.   MDHI also works in collaboration with the Documentary StoryMaking Minor– a collaboration between Lehigh University, Muhlenberg College and Lafayette College.