The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded an $800,000 grant to the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado for a new program tying historical understanding to real-world solutions for modern problems.

The grant will enable more than 100 historians to have the opportunity to tackle some of the West’s most pressing environmental, economic and social issues, according to a news release. The program will welcome its first cohort this fall.

Through a series of courses, projects, networking events and summer programs, graduate students, postdoctoral students and faculty will combine their historical knowledge with practical skills, the release stated. Under the guidance of mentors, participants will craft responses to recurring issues in the West, including wildfires, natural resource management as well as the challenges and opportunities facing native peoples.

“Historical perspective proves to be a wonderful way to assess contemporary conflicts and dilemmas,” said Patty Limerick, faculty director of the center, said in a statement.

“When they acquire entrepreneurial skills for letting their fellow citizens know of their talents, historians hold a competitive advantage when it comes to charting routes leading out of antagonism, stalemate, and fatalism.”

The program’s application period will open later in 2019 to CU graduate students, recent PhDs, and post-doctoral students from around the West. The grant period is three years, but the Center of the American West hopes to expand the program in the years ahead.