Public Scholarship


The Simpson Center advances scholarship as a publicly engaged practice, promoting mutually beneficial partnerships between higher education and organizations in the public and private sectors and providing pathways for scholars to share their academic work with broader public audiences.

Public Scholarship Programs

Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics

Over the course of two generous grants from The Mellon Foundation spanning from 2015-2022, the Simpson Center for the Humanities has built programming and partnerships that have transformed doctoral education in the humanities at UW. The Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics program implemented the conviction that doctoral education, especially at a public university, must be guided by a capacious vision of its fundamental purpose: to contribute to the public good. In this digital showcase, we highlight the work of our faculty, who received fellowships to develop publicly engaged graduate courses, and doctoral students, who were awarded support to pursue independent projects in public scholarship in their fields.

Barclay Simpson Scholars

The Simpson Center for the Humanities biannually invites proposals from doctoral students in the humanities to pursue public-facing projects in their areas of study and practice. Our inaugural cohort of fellows met throughout the summer of 2021, with the next cohort to be selected in the fall of 2022 for the summer of 2023. The fellowship builds on the Simpson Center’s longstanding commitment to public scholarship and furthers the groundbreaking work undertaken by University of Washington faculty, doctoral students, and their community partners.
Public Scholarship Projects

Seattle’s Freeway Revolt: A Living Legacy of Civic Activism

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many Seattle citizens joined together to oppose the construction and expansion of freeways that would have destroyed the heart of Seattle. This anti-freeway movement was instrumental in halting two major freeways (RH Thompson and Bay Freeway) and significantly downsizing a third (the I-90), saving parks, shorelines, and thousands of homes and businesses.