Summer Fellowships for New Graduate Seminars in the Humanities

The Simpson Center for the Humanities invites proposals from faculty to create new graduate seminars with prominent public scholarship components. Fellows receive $7,500 gross (benefits included) and an additional research fund award of $2,500.


UW faculty whose tenure-track home is in a doctoral-degree granting department.


The Simpson Center is receptive to proposals from all doctoral-degree granting departments and programs in the humanities, broadly defined. We will give special attention to disciplines with less-established traditions of public engagement and project-based work (that is, those in which critical articles and books for academic audiences are the only forms of scholarship that typically “count”).

We particularly encourage applications from faculty who have demonstrated engagement with public audiences; been immersed in intellectually challenging community-based research; or have written for a public audience, expanding the impact of their scholarly work. Doctoral education is a crucial site for instilling the values and modelling the practices of public scholarship. We hope to receive applications from faculty who are prepared to model for their students public engagement as part of the scholarly vocation.  

What Is Public Scholarship?

In an essay from the 2008 collection Practising Public Scholarship: Experiences and Possibilities Beyond the Academy, edited by UW Geography Professor Katharyne Mitchell, literary critic Terry Eagleton envisions public intellectuals as “at their most useful when they find some way of bringing their particular academic expertise to bear on a matter of public importance.” George J. Sanchez, Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity and History at University of Southern California, describes a project-based public scholarship paradigm in his 2005 article “Crossing Figueroa.” He explains that such work might produce “a major museum exhibition, a teacher’s guide made free to all teachers, high school student radio projects, undergraduate and graduate research papers,” as well as scholarly monographs.

Applicants may want to consult exemplary and wide-ranging work in public scholarship supported by Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, and the organization’s journal, Public.

Projects that have been undertaken by public scholars at the University of Washington are profiled on the Simpson Center website. One of these is the noted work of historian James N. Gregory, who was awarded the Barclay Simpson Prize for Scholarship in Public in 2015 for his digital Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project. For examples of projects undertaken at the graduate student level, see the curriculum and student portfolios developed through the Certificate in Public Scholarship.  

Terms of the Award

Three faculty members will each receive $7,500 gross (benefits included) for course development along with a research fund award of $2,500. During the summer, faculty fellows as well as graduate students awarded support for the development of public projects will meet to discuss their ongoing work. Fellows are required to be in residence and are expected to attend eight weekly workshops during the months of July and August. This fellowship is not appropriate for those whose projects require time away from the university in the summer. We ask that departments plan for the new seminars to be listed on their course schedules within two years of the award.

Summer Residency

Beginning in early July, fellows will meet to discuss and present work in public scholarship. Participation in the 6-to-8 weekly late-afternoon meetings of the Summer Public Scholarship Cohort is required; this fellowship is not appropriate for those whose projects require time away from the university in the summer. 

Application Materials

  • Proposal (maximum 5 pages double-spaced). Proposals should include:
    • A brief description of the course, its goals and learning objectives, and a suggestive list of course readings, screenings, site visits, and assignments, etc.
    • The plan for its development, including a budget that outlines how the research funds will be allocated (travel to a conference, for example, or to collaborators at another institution).
    • An intended timeline for when the course will be taught.
    • A statement on how the course will contribute to the reshaping of graduate education in the discipline. This aspect of the application cites one of the intents of the program, namely, to “reimagine” the humanities PhD, and recalls recent reports on graduate study from professional organizations such as the American Historical Association and Modern Language Association.         
    • Departmental Acknowledgement Form
    • C.V.

Simpson Center will form an Advisory and Selection Committee to determine funding awards.

For questions, please contact Annie Dwyer, Assistant Program Director, at or 206.221.3191. You may also request a meeting.

The Simpson Center gratefully acknowledges the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its support of Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics. The $750,000 grant award, administered over four years, addresses the pressing need to take teaching and scholarship in the humanities to broader publics.


Acknowledgement Form

For all applicants: Please complete the Course Development Acknowledgement Form with the signature of your department chair and return it via email to or in hard copy (Communications 206/Box 353710).

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