The Simpson Center for the Humanities seeks to advance vital research and spirited intellectual exchange on questions of broad and pressing concern through and across the academic fields of the humanities and the humanistic social sciences. As a research unit within the Humanities Division of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Washington, the Simpson Center supports scholarship that draws on the core areas of humanistic inquiry and beyond. Both basic and socially-engaged research are central to its mission which is expansive and interlocking:
- to support crossdisciplinary research
- to underwrite initiatives at the leading edge of change
- to offer innovative courses at the graduate level, and
- to foster work that is public facing, with a priority being the integration of research, teaching, and public scholarship.
Key to the Simpson Center's vision is the development of a culture of collaboration. Multi-year, intellectually ambitious, and socially compelling collaborative projects include “Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History,” “Biological Futures in a Globalized World,” “New Geographies: Feminist Art: China. Asia, and the World,” “Women Who Rock,” “Transformative Education Behind Bars,” “Capitalism and Comparative Racialization,” and “Humanitarianisms.” All of these projects integrate research and teaching, and possess a public dimension.
The Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities supports a wide range of research across the humanities and humanistic social sciences, with a focus on leading-edge collaborative projects with the potential to reach beyond the academy. One of the most comprehensive humanities centers in the United States, it is well-known for its scholarly fellowship programs and major initiatives in digital humanities, public scholarship, and reimagining the humanities PhD. Simpson Center programs are grounded in collaboration, crossdisciplinarity, and an ethos of experimentation.
The Simpson Center offers a rich spectrum of opportunities for intellectual community and plays a shaping and supportive role in the work of University of Washington faculty and graduate students. It provides funding and administrative support for scholarly fellowships, research clusters, graduate study groups, conferences, symposia, and microseminars, allowing faculty and graduate students to exchange ideas and develop projects with colleagues, visiting scholars, and members of other higher educational and cultural institutions. Special programs for undergraduates are also underwritten by the center.
The Simpson Center supports faculty-led projects on contemporary social issues and deep historical questions, and serves as an enlivening place for conversations across disciplines, publics, and communities. Funding is awarded to faculty to undertake projects such as organizing conferences and leading research clusters twice annually during competitive funding rounds, with applications reviewed by the Simpson Center executive board, a body led by the director of the Simpson Center and consisting of the dean of humanities, faculty from the divisions of the humanities, social sciences, and arts of the College of Arts & Sciences on the UW Seattle campus as well as from affiliated units at UW Bothell and Tacoma. The board also reviews nominations for the center’s high-profile named lecture series, advises on policy, and actively participates in the development of new programs and initiatives.
The Simpson Center regularly welcomes short-term visiting scholars and often hosts postdoctoral fellows with portable fellowship funding, providing campus space, resources, and intellectual community for established and emerging scholarly voices in the humanities. The center contributes to the activities of the national and international organizations with which it is affiliated, including the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), the Western Humanities Alliance, the National Humanities Alliance, and Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life. In doing so, it facilitates the building of scholarly networks nationally and internationally.
The Simpson Center has received grants from national organizations, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as well as from Seattle institutions, among them, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The Simpson Center is also sustained by support from donors [add link to full list here]. Major gifts from the PSB Fund—the family foundation of Barclay and Sharon Simpson—and from Donald E. Petersen and Frederick Danz, among others, have underwritten forward-looking, interdisciplinary curricular and fellowship programs that would not have been otherwise possible.
Led by a faculty director appointed by the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, the Simpson Center has five full-time staff members.
We are currently accepting reservations for Autumn 2021 and Winter 2022. We will accept reservations for Spring and Summer Quarter 2022 starting on February 1.
Welcome. Our space is for you, the University of Washington campus community. We make our meeting spaces available free of charge for activities that contribute to the intellectual life of the university.
First priority goes to Simpson Center projects and activities, second to other scholarly groups related to the humanities, broadly envisioned. When space is available, we welcome other UW and community groups, including reading groups, workshops, seminars, dissertation defenses, and departmental retreats. We ask that you follow our guidelines and leave the space as you found it.
Learn about our rooms and reservation process below. If you’d like, call us first at 206.543.3920 to see if your dates are available. Not sure if you’re eligible?Please ask.
- Lecture hall (Communications Building room 120) [Capacity 95] - Available at 3:30 pm M-F
- Seminar room (Communications 202) [Capacity 35]
- Reading/reception room (Communications 204) [Capacity 35]
- Collaboration studio (Communications 218D) [Capacity 18]
- Classroom (Communications 226) [Capacity 50] - Available at 3:30 pm M-F
Maps and Directions
We are located on the second floor of the Communications Building on the University of Washington campus at 4109 E Stevens Way NE, Seattle, WA 98195. For directions to our building on campus, view the campus map. For resources on visiting campus, including parking and transportation, we recommend the "Visit the UW" resource page.
As we re-open to events, The Simpson Center for the Humanities will be following the University of Washington requirements for Winter 2022 in-person events. Visitors to the Simpson Center must follow UW COVID Prevention Guidelines, including wearing an approved face covering. All guests at public events must show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to the event or visit.