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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Summer Fellowships for New 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 students in the core humanities disciplines of English, History, and Philosophy to work together as they 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. 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.

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. Doctoral students across the humanities and humanistic social sciences on our campus are deeply involved in these efforts. The Simpson Center for the Humanities has supported their 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. Fellows in these programs have undertaken high-impact projects in public scholarship, such as:    

  • Lilly Campbell (English), “Improving Support for Public School Teachers with Student Volunteers,” a set of research-based resources for service-learning composition courses based in K-12 public schools.
  • Jessica Bachman (History), “Beyond the Cold War: The Afterlife of Indo-Soviet Literary Exchange,” an exhibition, oral history project, and symposium collaboratively produced with communities and librarians.
  • Janice Moskalik (Philosophy), “Connecting Communities through Public Philosophy: Offering Philosophy for Children Courses in Seattle Colleges,” a co-created syllabus and course plan for two-year colleges.

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, we recommend the following readings as starting points: Scholarship in Public (2008), by Julie Ellison and Timothy Eatman; “Crossing Figueroa” (2005), by George Sanchez; and “Why Public Scholarship Matters for Graduate Education” (2015), by Miriam Bartha and Bruce Burgett. Public, the journal of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, features exemplary and wide-ranging essays about public scholarship projects.

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 2020, 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. 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. Projects do not necessarily need to be completed during the summer term.

Application Materials

  • Proposal (maximum 5 pages double-spaced). Proposals should include:
    • 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 as well as an account of the anticipated collaborative work the project will entail.
    • A project plan, including a timeline describing what will be accomplished 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 advisors (in most cases, the dissertation 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 206.221.3191. 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.