The University’s classics department, responding to what some are terming a crisis in the field, is offering a new predoctoral fellowship seeking applicants who would contribute to diversity at Princeton.

“If we are serious about the longevity and viability of the discipline, then we have to think radically about diversity, inclusion, and racial equity,” said assistant professor Dan-el Padilla Peralta ’06. The lack of diversity and the field’s content — “the literatures and cultures of dead white men” — have made it difficult to recruit and develop young scholars who push the field forward with new perspectives, he said. At the same time, he said, traditional channels that prepared students to major in classics are drying up as fewer high schools offer Latin or ancient Greek.

Professors Dan-el Padilla Peralta ’06, at left above, and Michael Flower. The writing says: “My sufferings are my lessons.”

In response, the classics department created the predoctoral fellowship to give a promising student a fully funded year to supplement his or her undergraduate training, with the expectation that the student will join Princeton’s Ph.D. program the following fall. The department is encouraging applications from students in underrepresented groups, those from low-income backgrounds, and those who have made “active contributions to enhancing access, diversity, and inclusion.”

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Of the department’s 35 graduate students, 11 are underrepresented minorities. Most come from top-tier universities and liberal-arts colleges that can afford to offer advanced Latin and Greek, said Professor Michael Flower. The 20 applicants for the fellowship include many “who show great promise to make a difference in our field,” he said, including students who otherwise would not have considered applying to Princeton.

The fellow will be able to choose from undergraduate and graduate courses and may request specific help — in research methods, for example — as needed. Flower said the department hopes to add a second fellowship if outside funding can be obtained.