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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Summer Fellowships for New Collaborative Public Projects 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 doctoral students in the core humanities disciplines of English, History, and Philosophy to collaboratively pursue a public scholarship project. Recipients of this fellowship will each receive a stipend of $7,500 and an additional research award of $2,000.


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

Background and Description

In the academic humanities it remains the case that single-author critical articles and books for scholarly audiences are widely considered the only forms of scholarship that “count.” Doctoral students are often encouraged to focus exclusively on mastering these modes of scholarship during graduate school. This fellowship provides support to doctoral students who want to explore new trajectories and possibilities in the humanities through collaborative and public-facing work.

Public Scholarship in Graduate Education

The University of Washington is a national leader in advancing humanities scholarship as a publicly engaged practice, promoting mutually beneficial partnerships between higher education and community organizations, and providing pathways for scholars to share their academic work with broader public audiences. In addition to offering summer support through Catalyzing Collaboration, the Simpson Center for the Humanities has supported doctoral student work through two key programs: the Certificate in Public Scholarship (established in 2010) and Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics (2015-2019), a Mellon grant-funded program that preceded Catalyzing Collaboration. Building on this work, the first cohort of Mellon summer doctoral fellows developed exciting, exemplary projects in 2020 that instantiate the generative relationship between collaboration and public scholarship:

  • BrittNEY Frantece and Nanya Jhingran (English), “Manifesting the Ecstatic,” a podcast that opens a community storytelling space to discuss the ways in which different magickal and spiritual practices are also means of anti-capitalist, anti-colonial resistance.
  • Alika Bourgette and Frances O’Shaughnessy (History), “An Interactive Detour of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909),” an interactive detour and accompanying exhibit of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition that was hosted at the present site of the University of Washington.
  • Paul Tubig and Anna Bates (Philosophy), “Philosophy Behind/Beyond Bars,” engages the relationship between philosophy and prisons through a seminar series that will be taught to both traditional and incarcerated students inside Washington Correctional Center for Women.

Such projects make significant intellectual contributions to the public good, and at the same time, they rely upon sustained collaboration. To learn more about public scholarship in the humanities, we recommend perusing the compilation of public projects on the NHA’s Humanities for All website; the public projects that have recently received funding from The Whiting Foundation; and Public, the official journal of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, which features wide-ranging essays about public scholarship. Doctoral students in English may also be particularly interested in reviewing the Spring 2019 issue of MLA’s Profession; doctoral students in Philosophy may benefit from exploring the collection, A Field Guide to Philosophy (2020), ed. by Evelyn Brister and Robert Frodeman; and doctoral students in History may find additional examples of and discussions about public scholarship in their discipline by searching the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History. 

Terms of the Award

Two-person teams—one from each of the three participating departments—will be selected. Each fellow will receive a stipend of $7,500 along with a research award of $2,000. During the summer of 2021, doctoral student fellows, as well as faculty awarded support for the collaborative development of graduate seminars in public scholarship, will meet as a cohort to discuss their ongoing work.

The intent of this summer support is to allow fellows to devote themselves full-time to project development. Thus, this fellowship is not appropriate for those whose projects require time away from the university in the summer. Fellows are required to be in residence and are expected to attend eight weekly meetings during the months of July and August. Fellows must devote themselves during this period to focused work on their public projects, with no competing demands, including teaching or other paid work.

The workshops will include discussion of works-in progress, common readings, reflective writing, panel discussions, site visits, and other practices established by the group. You are not expected to complete your project during the summer, though you should make significant progress towards its development.

Application Materials

  • Project Proposal (maximum 5 pages double-spaced). Proposals address the following elements:
    • The intellectual ambitions of the project, including guiding research questions and a brief statement about the significance of the work.
    • A description of the public audiences, partners, and/or stakeholders relevant to the project, and an account of the anticipated collaborative work the project will entail.
    • A project plan, including a timeline describing what will be done during the summer.
  • Letter of support for each student to be submitted directly by the recommenders to The letters should be written by the students’ primary advisor.
  • 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 206.919.3767 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.