Bard College and the Forge Project recently announced a $50 million endowment supporting Native American and Indigenous Studies at Bard. Thanks to gifts from the Gochman Family Foundation and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, Bard’s existing program will be significantly bolstered. Additionally, scholarship funds will be cached for “historically-underrepresented populations” to attend the school located in Annandale-on-Hudson.
The effort to expand Bard’s program has been spearheaded by Candice Hopkins, a Carcross/Tagish First Nation curator, writer, researcher, and Bard College alumna who serves as Executive Director and Chief Curator at the Forge Project. “This gift represents institutional change, which has been building at Bard and is core to the vision of Forge Project,” says Hopkins. “These lands are layered with histories that are inextricably bound by the displacement and forced removal of Indigenous peoples, yet also rich with knowledge.”
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Beyond her role as a consultant for this initiative, Hopkins will join the faculty at Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies. In 2023—precisely two decades after she graduated from Bard’s Curatorial Studies program—Hopkins will curate an exhibition focused on “thematic through lines including land, cultural sovereignty and self-determination, culturally-specific institutional critique, and…the long history of Native cultural production.” She will also teach one course per year related to art history and curation through the lens of Indigenous studies.
The college plans to instate a chair for an eminent scholar of Native American and Indigenous Studies and recruit faculty to constitute its growing program. The interdisciplinary approach—along with “library acquisitions” and “archives dedicated to Native American and Indigenous history”—will make for a robust and comprehensive program of studies.
Bard College and the Forge Project hope this initiative will galvanize similar investments in Native American and Indigenous curriculum at other institutions. “This gift provides the basis for the future building of this knowledge. Critically, it also centers the needs of Indigenous students, reducing barriers to higher education, and recognizes that students want to attend programs where they see their interests reflected,” says Hopkins. “Bard is at the forefront of this, and we are honored to be a part of this change.”