waves crashing on a beach with sand bags

Craig Santos Perez said he was “shocked, excited, honored and grateful” to win a prestigious national fellowship and more than $100,000 in funding. The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa associate professor of English is one of 12 awardees of the 2020 Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Scholars and Society Fellowship.

Craig Santos Perez head shot
Craig Santos Perez

His project will focus on the effects of climate change on the state of Hawaiʻi, and will use poetry to articulate indigenous ecological beliefs, critique the history of ecological imperialism, advocate for environmental justice and imagine sustainable futures.

“I am passionate about poetry because it is a powerful and creative way to address and educate the public about climate change, the most urgent issue in the Pacific today,” said Santos Perez.

Each awardee is offered a stipend of $75,000, and an additional $15,000 for programming that bridges community-engaged work with doctoral education, $10,000 for the fellows’ partner organizations and $6,000 for research and project costs.

Santos Perez, a native of Guam, said the research funds will be used for books and curriculum materials, and editing and publishing of a new anthology. The additional funding will go toward a series of literary and environmental events on and off the UH Mānoa campus. His partner organization is the Pacific Writers’ Connection, a Hawaiʻi-based non-profit, whose executive director is Takiora Ingram, a renowned Pacific author, scholar and UH Mānoa graduate.

The Mellon/ACLS Scholars and Society Fellowship is in its second year. The program provides opportunities for faculty in PhD humanities departments to address important societal questions in their research, serve as ambassadors for humanities scholarship and broaden support for innovations in doctoral education. The awards are funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

—By Marc Arakaki