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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Summer Fellowships for New Graduate Seminars in the Humanities

With the support of a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Simpson Center for the Humanities invites proposals from two-person teams of faculty in the core humanities disciplines of English, History, and Philosophy to work together as they develop new individual graduate seminars that embody the ethos of collaboration while building capacities for publicly engaged scholarship. Recipients of this fellowship will each receive $7,500 in salary (benefits are included) and an additional research award of $2,000.


UW faculty whose tenure-track home is in English, Philosophy, or History.

Background and Description

Doctoral education is a crucial site for instilling the values and modelling the practices of public-facing scholarship and collaborative work. In the academic humanities it remains the case that single-author critical articles and books for academic audiences continue to be widely considered the only forms of scholarship that “count.” At the same time many are convinced that public scholarship is both meaningful in and of itself and has the potential to change that institutional narrative, establishing new scholarly traditions and trajectories in the humanities.

We invite proposals from two-person teams of faculty to develop new graduate seminars—with a focus on public-facing projects—in conversation with each other. We can imagine, for example, two faculty members creating resonating individual courses featuring collaborations with different kinds of community organizations (museums, libraries, K-12 schools, Seattle city offices)—or with the same partner organization. We can imagine two individual courses, each of which focuses on the dissemination of research to audiences beyond the academy and across genres (print publications for general audiences, websites, and reports). Assignments in these courses might explicitly require students to collaboratively undertake a small-scale project, or co-author a piece of writing intended for a broad public audience. By creating these courses in tandem with each other, colleagues from the same department will, we hope, deepen their commitment to a range of new practices of scholarship in the humanities.

We encourage proposals from faculty whose approach to research and teaching is defined by collaboration or community and public engagement.  We also encourage proposals from faculty who wish to emphasize these forms of scholarship in their classrooms for the first time.

Public Scholarship in Graduate Education

As Miriam Bartha and Bruce Burgett have observed, public scholarship can be characterized as an “organizing language” that “serves to align and articulate convergent interests” to contribute to the public good, and thus, collaboration can be viewed as integral to the pursuit of the public humanities—and to publicly engaged graduate education. In the core humanities disciplines at the University of Washington, the public-facing scholarship of Jim Gregory (History) and Gillian Harkins (English) exemplifies collaboration with community partners as a public good; both have been awarded the Barclay Simpson Prize for Scholarship in Public. In the course of developing the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project, Gregory has collaborated with countless community groups, activists, faculty, and students, and has served as a mentor in public scholarship to a generation of graduate students who have worked on the project as editors and contributors. Harkins has advanced educational access and opportunity inside prisons together with incarcerated persons and community members who are most impacted by incarceration. Her graduate seminar, “Collaboration Across Walls: Public Scholarship as Means or Ends,” which she taught for the first time in Fall 2018, integrates public scholarship into graduate student learning.  At the Center for Philosophy for Children at the University of Washington, the collective pursuit of a common vision for programming in public schools has involved graduate students’ work in Seattle  K-12 classrooms, where they lead philosophy sessions and learn how to make a real difference in the lives of young students. Such projects make significant intellectual contributions to the public good, and at the same time, they rely upon sustained collaboration.

Terms of the Award

Two-person faculty teams—one from each of the three participating departments—will be selected. Each faculty member will receive $7,500 in salary (benefits are included) for course development along with a research fund award of $2,000. During the summer of 2020, faculty fellows, as well as doctoral students awarded support for the development of collaborative public projects, will meet as a cohort to discuss their ongoing work. Faculty fellows are required to be in residence and are expected to attend eight weekly meetings 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.

Application Materials

  • Proposal (maximum 5 pages double-spaced). Proposals should include:
    • A brief description of each seminar, its learning objectives, and a list of possible course readings, screenings, site visits, and assignments, as applicable or envisioned at this time.
    • Please include an account, in the seminar descriptions, of how public scholarship might be incorporated into student learning. Please also describe specific ways in which students may be asked to work in collaboration within the framework of each course.
    • An explanation of what the two faculty members plan to explore in their discussions over the summer.
    • A projection of the quarter(s) in which the courses will be taught.
  • Departmental Acknowledgement Forms
  • C.V. for each applicant (3 pages maximum)

Full application instructions:  

The 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. We encourage applicants to meet with us to discuss their proposals prior to submission.

The Simpson Center gratefully acknowledges The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its support of Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics: Catalyzing Collaboration.


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). 

Example Syllabi

Example syllabi for graduate seminars with strong public scholarship components: