Summer Fellowships for Public Projects in the Humanities

The Simpson Center for the Humanities invites proposals from doctoral students to undertake summer projects in public scholarship. Fellows receive a stipend of $6,500 and an additional research budget of $2,000.  


UW students who have completed their work at the master’s level and who will receive no other funding during the term of the award.


The Simpson Center is receptive to proposals from all 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 for projects that establish or develop collaborations between scholars and community partners, or create new occasions for the exchange of knowledge between academic research and public audiences. Proposals should emphasize scholarship, not service, although the two may well be intertwined. We will consider applications that demonstrate a record of community engagement as well as those that persuasively articulate an interest in turning toward the public.

For projects with both digital and public dimensions, applicants should choose between applying for the Digital Humanities Summer Fellowship and the Summer Fellowship for Public Projects in the Humanities.

What Is Public Scholarship?

In an essay from the 2012 collection Collaborative Futures: Critical Reflections on Publicly Active Graduate Education, co-edited by UW Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences instructor Georgia M. Roberts, public scholar Sylvia Gale argues that graduate students in the humanities can work across many “forms, venues, and audiences” as they pursue their research degrees. George J. Sanchez, Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity and History at the University of Southern California, describes a project-based public scholarship paradigm in his 2005 article “Crossing Figueroa.” He explains that such work might ultimately produce “a major museum exhibition, a teacher’s guide made free to all teachers, high school student radio projects,” or a piece of scholarly writing documenting and reflecting on these practices and outcomes.   

Applicants may want to consult exemplary and wide-ranging work in public scholarship supported by Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, the organization’s journal, Public, and its Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) program, in which a number of UW students have participated.

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 at the graduate level, see the curriculum and student portfolios developed through the Certificate in Public Scholarship. 

Terms of the Award

Four doctoral students each receive a summer stipend of $6,500 along with a research fund award of $2,000. During the summer, doctoral fellows as well as faculty awarded grant support for the development of graduate seminars 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. Projects do not necessarily need to be completed during the summer.

Application Materials

  • Proposal (maximum 5 pages double-spaced). Proposals should include:
    • The intellectual ambitions of the project, including a research question and a brief statement on the significance of the work.
    • A description of the public audiences, partners, and/or stakeholders relevant to the project.
    • A project plan, including a timeline describing what will be accomplished during the summer.
  • Statement on Doctoral Education (maximum 500 words). Statements should address the following question, posed by Miriam Bartha and Bruce Burgett in their 2014 co-authored article, “Why Public Scholarship Matters for Graduate Education”:
    • What should graduate education committed to promoting engaged forms of research, teaching, and service or practice look like, and what is necessary to develop, support, and institutionalize those educational practices?
  • Letter of support to be submitted directly recommender to The letter should be written by the student’s primary advisor (in most cases, the dissertation advisor).     
  • C.V.

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

For questions, please contact Annie Dwyer, Assistant Program Director, 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.

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