Next Generation Humanities PhD

Applications accepted for both fall and spring funding rounds.

The Simpson Center invites proposals for an initiative launched in 2016, Next Generation Humanities PhD. We advise potential applicants to be in touch with the Simpson Center—either the director or the assistant director—with your ideas for a grant in this category.


Across the country, doctoral education in the humanities is being reimagined in multiple ways. From graduate seminars to dissertation formats, and from professional development to diverse career trajectories, programs around the United States are inventing new models for advanced study in the disciplines. In light of the report of the Modern Language Association Task Force on Doctoral Study (2014) and the American Historical Association’s proposal, “No More Plan B” (2011), both of which recommend significant changes in doctoral programs, the Simpson Center announces a three-year initiative intended to help move these discussions beyond professional organizations and into humanities departments at the University of Washington.

Inspired also by the Next Generation Humanities PhD initiative launched by the National Endowment for the Humanities under the leadership of former Chairman William D. Adams (he spoke at the UW on December 4, 2015), we are encouraging proposals for new approaches to graduate education. The NEH calls for innovation in doctoral education that will “transform the understanding of what it means to be a humanities scholar and promote the integration of the humanities in the public sphere.”

The Simpson Center is already undertaking some of this work. Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics, a 2015-2019 Mellon-funded program at the Simpson Center, supports the development of graduate seminars with strong public humanities components, provides summer funding for doctoral students to undertake projects in public scholarship, and partners with two-year colleges in the Seattle District to establish mentoring relationships between doctoral students and community college faculty.

Possible Proposals

We are seeking proposals for a range of potentially transformative projects—large and small—to be undertaken within departments. We are also interested in cross-departmental initiatives.

  • Proposals might focus on the curriculum of the doctoral program; examples include the development of a sequence of courses that encourage new forms of scholarly communication, and incoming cohorts of graduate students working together across departmental lines in cross-listed coursework on shared theoretical, critical, and pedagogical concerns.
  • Proposals might explore the creation or enhancement of a graduate certificate program that brings faculty and graduate students together across departmental and disciplinary lines or might test various ways of workshopping graduate student research with visiting speakers.
  • Proposals might address preparation for careers outside of the academy, including, for instance, the creation of a network of internships in the greater Seattle community, and formulate alternative models for graduate student mentoring that address the altered job landscape.
  • Proposals might request support for a graduate faculty and doctoral student retreat to discuss potential changes to doctoral programs, focusing on either broad-based changes or changes to one aspect of doctoral education (the forms a dissertation might take is one example).


We invite proposals from:

  • Chairs of UW departments in the humanities and humanistic social sciences
  • Directors of graduate study at the doctoral level
  • Humanities faculty whose tenure-track home is in a doctoral-degree granting department
  • Doctoral students from these departments

Successful applications in the past have included letters of support from department chairs or have been submitted by the chair and director of graduate studies.

Terms of Award

Requests for up to $20,000 might include but are not limited to:

  • Research budget for the faculty member(s) directing the project in modest compensation for leading the initiative
  • Hourly support for student assistance (graduate or undergraduate)
  • Honoraria and travel expenses for consultants
  • Expenses involved in retreats (room reservation, meals, etc.)

We strongly encourage applicants to contact us with any questions about the terms of the award, particularly if the proposed activities require funding of more than $20,000.

Application Materials

We request that proposals not duplicate support available through the Mellon-funded program Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics.

1. Proposal Narratives (limit eight pages) should address:

  • Near-term and long-term project goals
  • Participating persons and/ units and what they will contribute to the project
  • Activities to be funded
  • Anticipated outcomes
  • Scholarly, public, and/or institutional significance

2. Budget should detail how requested funds will be used (for research, hourly pay for students, stipends or honoraria, travel, accommodations, curricular or promotional materials, hospitality, and facilities rentals), as well as other confirmed and anticipated sources of support.

3. C.V.  Include a curriculum vitae for each organizer. Limit five pages per organizer.


Spring 2018 Funding Round

For funding term July 2018-June 2019

  • Applications due April 27, 2018

How to Apply

  1. Bundle your proposal into a single PDF. Name your file "[Your last name]-[Project Title]."
  2. Upload the file to our Google form. You must sign in with you UW NetID (include "" in the email field).
  3. Complete the proposal information form.

We encourage applicants to meet with us before submitting a proposal. To schedule a meeting, contact Assistant Director Rachel Arteaga.

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