Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Funds Joint Project Between UC Berkeley and Northwestern University to establish the International Consortium for Critical Theory Programs

In March of 2015, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced a grant to University of California, Berkeley in conjunction with Northwestern University to fund an exploratory effort to establish programs and directions for the newly constituted International Consortium for Critical Theory Programs (ICCTP). The task of the grant will be to establish the groundwork for the consortium and its projects. The principal investigators are Judith Butler (Berkeley) and Penelope Deutscher (Northwestern). The task of this international consortium will be not only to preserve and promote the tradition of critical theory in a broad sense, but also to investigate innovations and revisions of that tradition in light of the global range of critical theories as well as the contemporary global challenges to the university and, by implication, to critical thought itself. Plans are already underway to document and connect programs and centers dedicated to the field of critical theory that have had no previous institutional forum for such an exchange. The European origins of critical theory have been crucial to its articulation and significant influence, but there are now diverse appropriations and revisions of that tradition that speak to the contemporary historical and economic conditions traversing Europe and other parts of the globe.

The first project of this consortium will be to establish a multi-lingual website that will provide information on critical theory programs at the undergraduate and graduate level; critical theory research clusters, centers, and institutes; and link with an online critical theory library that offers bibliographical background on the field and its current directions. The second project—under the direction of Northwestern University—will involve options for program development in critical theory that could be used to establish academic and research programs adaptable to different institutional environments. With the website and the program development initiatives, we hope to establish the importance of the field through various means, and thus to bolster initiatives to build and hire in this area throughout higher education. Ideally, the consortium will provide rationales and precedents for supporting critical theory initiatives in the contemporary university, including research collaborations and faculty and student exchange programs. Such a network is especially important in light of new measures that have gauged the value of the humanities and critical thought in instrumental terms alone. The ICCTP seeks both to preserve and galvanize the study of critical theory, and to establish its crucial place in the life of the university.

For additional information, please contact The Program in Critical Theory at