Humanities Without Walls Opportunities

Humanities Without Walls logo

The Center for Digital Research in the Humanities is among 15 partners in a $3 million project that seeks to create new avenues of collaborative research, teaching and scholarship in the humanities.

2019 HWW National Predoctoral Career Diversity Residential Summer Workshop

Humanities Without Walls (HWW) is a consortium of humanities centers and institutes at 15 major research universities throughout the Midwest and beyond. Based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), the HWW consortium is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

In summer 2019, HWW is holding its second national, in-residence summer workshop for doctoral students interested in learning about careers outside of the academy and/or the tenure track system. Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF)—a leading public humanities organization— designs and runs the summer workshop in consultation with HWW. Through a series of workshops, talks, and field trips, participants learn how to leverage their skills and training towards careers in the private sector, the non-profit world, arts administration, public media and many other fields.

We invite applications from doctoral students pursuing degree in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to participate in this three-week, in-residence summer workshop. This is a limited-submission application. Eligible doctoral students must be nominated for this fellowship by their home institutions, and only one nomination may be made to HWW by each university. To be considered, interested doctoral students must submit their applications to their home universities’ humanities center director, Katherine Walter, at by October 12th, 2018.

About the Workshop: Launched in 2015 as an initiative of the HWW consortium, the workshop welcomes thirty participants each summer from higher education institutions across the United States. HWW Summer Workshop Fellows work in a variety of academic disciplines. They are scholars and practitioners who bring experience in community building, museum curation, filmmaking, radio programming, social media, project management, research, writing, and teaching. They are invested in issues of social justice and seek ways to bring humanistic values, insights, and skills to the public and private sectors.

In the spirit of practice-oriented learning, HWW and CHF partner with entities such as IDEO, a design and consulting firm, to lead students in real-world problem-solving exercises around important contemporary issues. Recognizing that each fellow’s skillset has been primarily oriented toward an academic track, the workshop includes sessions on values-based career planning, resume and cover letter construction, networking, and social media strategies from experts in career development.

Graduates from the workshop will emerge with a network of contacts in a range of professional realms; a significantly broadened sense of the career possibilities that await humanities PhDs; a cohort of HWW Summer Workshop Fellows (and friends!) from whom they may draw support and advice; and a set of resources aimed at helping them advance into the various realms considered under the broad rubric of “the public humanities.”

Where: Chicago, Illinois. Most weekday workshop events will take place at the Genevieve and Wayne Gratz Center at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St (at N. Michigan Ave.). The workshop also includes site visit to organizations around the city.

This is an in-residence workshop. As such, all participants, regardless of regular place of domicile, will be housed in private apartments. The costs of lodging are included in the fellowship. Staying in the provided housing is required as a condition of acceptance this fellowship. Details about lodging will be provided to those selected for the workshop.

When: Summer 2019—July 15th through August 2nd. Workshop sessions take place from approximately 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, for three weeks. Fellows are required to attend all workshop events and are strongly discouraged from traveling during the workshop. While there are no events scheduled during weekends, the CHF will circulate a list of interesting and exciting activities happening around Chicago that students are welcome to explore on their own.

Eligibility: All applicants must be enrolled in a doctoral degree program in a humanities or humanistic social science discipline at a PhD-granting institution within the United States. Applicants may be at any stage of their doctoral work, but they cannot have already received the doctoral degree at the time the workshop takes place. Ideally, applicants will have completed some coursework towards their doctoral degree, and they may have been advanced to candidacy but are not yet finishing their dissertations. International students are eligible to apply, but are responsible for confirming their registration and eligibility status at their home universities; HWW is not responsible for issuing visa paperwork.

Fellowship Prize: Each fellow will receive a $5,000 prize intended to cover travel to and from the summer workshop, most meals, and all incidentals. Fellows will be expected to arrange and pay for their own travel using the funds from this prize. The Chicago Humanities Festival will be arranging housing for all fellows in Chicago near the Gratz Center. All fellows are expected to attend the entire workshop for the entire three weeks and to stay in the provided housing.

Application Requirements: Interested doctoral students in the humanities should submit their applications to their home universities’ humanities center director, Katherine Walter, at by October 12th, 2018. Combine and submit all application materials as a single PDF file.

The application file should contain:

  • A completed application cover sheet.
  • A narrative (1,000 words maximum) explaining the applicant’s intended career trajectory and addressing the following questions:
    • What is your experience with the “public humanities”?
    • Why are you interested in attending the workshop?
    • What kinds of knowledge are you seeking from the workshop?
    • What do you hope to achieve as a result of attending the workshop?
    • How do you envision sharing what you learn at the workshop with your department, campus, and beyond?
  • CV (two pages maximum),
  • Two letters of recommendation. One letter should be from the applicant’s primary adviser/dissertation chair; both should emphasize the applicant’s fit for this workshop.

Application Procedures: This is a limited-submission application. Eligible doctoral students must be nominated for this fellowship by their home institutions, and only one nomination may be subnitted to HWW from any given university.

Interested students must submit the application materials listed above to their universities’ humanities center director, Katherine Walter, at by October 12th, 2018. Please do not submit your applications directly to HWW.

Humanities Center Directors should submit the application for their nominee by 5:00 pm CDT on November 2nd, 2018. Applications should be submitted to as a single PDF file attached to an email with the subject line “2019 Predoc Application.”

Announcement of fellowship awards will be made in January 2019. All questions should be directed to Jason Mierek, Director of Operations of the HWW Consortium, at HWW-

Application Deadline

October 12th, 2018


Application (print version)

About Humanities Without Walls July 2, 2014

The Humanities Without Walls consortium is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and will be administered by the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Urbana-Champaign. About $1.5 million is being shared with partnering schools through an additional competitive grant process. Katherine Walter, co-director of the CDRH, is overseeing the project at UNL.

Humanities Without Walls was created with a mission of “forging and sustaining areas of inquiry that cannot be created or maintained without cross-institutional cooperation,” according to a statement from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Humanities Without Walls includes 13 universities from the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of the Big Ten member universities plus the University of Chicago.

The project has two prongs. The first is “The Global Midwest,” a research commitment that aims to establish the Midwest as a force within today’s globalized society, as well as demonstrate how the applied humanities continue to aid in solving global challenges. The second is a series of workshops for doctoral students to prepare them for careers outside of academia.

Walter served on the planning committee for more than a year before the project was officially funded. She said UNL would receive a modest seed fund from the partnership to promote new cross-institutional projects. This fall, Humanities Without Walls will select and fund new scholarly research projects that foster a collaborative, multi-institutional approach. Walter said that a smaller, internal competition grants would be announced in August.

“Humanities Without Walls addresses many issues raised in the 2013 American Academy of Arts and Sciences report, ‘The Heart of the Matter: Humanities and Social Sciences for a Vibrant, Competitive and Secure Nation,’” Walter said. “Through this program, UNL faculty will have the opportunity to engage in exciting research challenges, and graduate students will learn about alternative and rewarding academic careers.”

Dianne Harris, director of Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, is the project’s principal investigator. The other partners are Indiana University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, the University of Chicago, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Illinois at Chicago and UNL.

By Deann Gayman, University CommunicationsPublished July 2, 2014, UNL Today

Request for Proposals: The Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate

The Humanities Without Walls consortium invites applications for funding from cross-institutional teams of faculty and graduate students wishing to collaboratively pursue research topics related to “The Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate.”

This research initiative links the consortium partners in a common commitment to intellectual exchange and dialogue, this time around a broad question that resonates with many contemporary humanist scholars—namely, what is the work of the humanities in a changing climate? This rubric is intended to be both intellectually focused and capacious. In its narrowest interpretation, it calls for collaborative work on climate change, arguably the most pressing grand challenge of our time. We seek collaborative research in the field of environmental humanities, broadly conceived, as well as the development of new humanities-centered paradigms for thinking through the limits and possibilities of climate change policy. We do so out of a conviction that the current climate crisis has deep historical roots yet to be fully tapped; that it calls for new philosophies and theories of the human and the Anthropocene; that its fictions and visual cultures bear mightily on its material consequences, past, present and future; and that collaborative research on these questions and more is indispensable to scholarly expertise on the subject, in the humanities and beyond.

As a metaphor, climate change is pluripotent: it offers humanists the opportunity to think expansively about the meanings of “climate” and “change” as they manifest in their own research, and to bring their contributions to bear on cognate questions in the present. Thus “The Work of Humanities in a Changing Climate” also hails scholars who wish to consider the pressure of other forms of contemporary “climate change” on their fields of inquiry—from a changing racial climate to a changing economic climate to the changing notion of “the public” and what it means for the intellectual work environments of humanists.

Applicants may propose research designed to serve public policy or other applied outcomes, though this is not required. Proposals that deal with climate change and research that explores more metaphoric meanings of “changing climate” are equally welcome as long as they are interdiscjplinary and intentionally collaborative. In other words, scholars invested in “The Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate” research initiative can pursue specifically environmental studies topics or they can choose to interpret climate change broadly across range of times and places. Above all, applications should nominate a clear and concise research problem and make a persuasive case for the cross-institutional partnerships involved. Examples of previously funded projects may be found on the Humanities Without Walls website.

Proposal Components

  • Graduate Humanities Lab Practicum
  • Proposals should include a detailed Graduate Humanities Lab Practicum experience for graduate students involved in the research project. Given that HWW projects are experiments in collaboration, dedicating time and resources to thinking collectively about collaborative practice is key to the overall success of the research experience. The Grad Lab Practicum offers a way for graduate students to shape the forms that collaborative practice takes and to help the research group reflect on the limits and possibilities of collaboration in the context of the project as a whole.

    Collaborators should consider spaces and forms typically available in university settings—e.g., the chemistry lab, design studio, and research seminar—as models for how best to organize their work, but the specific design and implementation of the practicum experience is up to the research group. Ideas for what a Humanities Lab Practicum could and should look like will arise out of the intellectual content of research projects themselves, with graduate students as equal partners. So, for example, the collaborative research practices that might emerge from environmental histories in medieval Europe would likely be quite different from those that stem from curating the climate of racial micro-aggressions in the wake of Ferguson (to give two hypothetical examples). Proposals should detail how the Grad Lab practicum is to be structured so that the graduate students involved end up with an understanding of what collaboration means for humanities scholars across fields and institutions.

    It is possible that in some cases, projects would benefit most from graduate students doing a critical ethnography of the research collaboration itself, rather than engaging in research that is not directly connected to their dissertation work. Regardless of the structure, and in keeping with more traditional research methods, proposals will need to link the design of the collaborative practice design itself to the substance of the research, and vice versa.

    The Humanities Without Walls renewal grant includes funding specifically allocated for the Graduate Humanities Lab Practicum. Proposal budgets must include a $10,500 stipend for two graduate students ($21,000 total for two students per year) for the duration of the project period. Tuition and fee waivers must be generated by each home institution, as they are not an allowable on the HWW grant. If a tuition and fee waiver cannot be secured from the home institution of one or both graduate students, the $21,000 can be disbursed as summer money. Participating graduate students may be from the primary and/or collaborating institutions. The minimum of two graduate student participants is per project, not per institution.

    Engaging with Undergraduates

    All collaborators on funded proposals also commit to showcasing their results to undergraduates on their campus and/or beyond. As with our approach to the Graduate Humanities Lab Practicum, we leave the format for such engagement open to the collaborators. Many of the consortium partner humanities centers have established mechanisms for linking undergraduates to their events and mission and they will be encouraged to make use of those channels to help guarantee undergraduate participation. All proposals are required to elaborate their ideas for such presentations and to budget accordingly.


    Finally, one of the biggest challenges of any multi-sited project is planning for the collaboration process—not just up front or on the fly but all along the way. Proposals should include discussion of how collaborative ambitions and practices will be structured across the life of the grant. This might include a description of when and how brainstorming will happen; evidence of planning and budgeting for one or two face-to-face meetings beyond a conference or workshop; or a description of workflows and/or a calendar of shared intellectual/organizing labor. Details of the structural and financial aspects of collaboration can be found in the Budget Guidance section.

    Scholars may find more information about the projects funded through the previous grand research challenge, “The Global Midwest,” on the HWW website. The selection criteria for “Changing Climate” projects may also be found on the HWW website and can provide additional insight into what previous selection committees have sought in terms of strong, compelling, well-designed proposals.


    Qualified project leaders will be tenure-line faculty at any of the Humanities Without Walls consortium institutions,* and each collaborating university’s “sub-team” must be led by a tenure-line faculty member who will serve as that sub-team’s project coordinator.

    In order to be eligible for funding, research teams must include scholars from at least two consortial institutions. Research teams may also include collaborators from non-consortial institutions, with the understanding that these participants may not receive any Humanities Without Walls funds except as contracted service-providers (e.g., advising on archival resources, presenting at an event or workshop, facilitating connections to activist groups, contributing photography or artwork for publications, providing other specialized services under contract).

    The project leader and project coordinator(s) must also come from a discipline within the humanities and/or arts, but teams may include scholars from any discipline.

    Duration and Awards

    The project period for all awards will be January 1st, 2018 to December 31st, 2020. All allocated funds awarded to research teams must be expended by no later than December 31, 2020 without exception. A midterm progress report, including detailed financial information, is due by December 31, 2018.

    The amount of each award will vary according to the budgetary requirements detailed in each application, and we strongly encourage proposal teams to think expansively in budgetary terms. The upper award limit for each project is $142,000, including the required $42,000 allocated to graduate student stipends.

    You are strongly encouraged to work with your home university’s Office of Proposal Development or equivalent to ensure that your proposal meets all of the requirements in this RFP and also complies with your home university’s policies on sponsored research. All applicants are required to include a letter of institutional support as part of their proposal.

    Project leaders and project coordinators should contact Kay Walter no later than October 1, 2017 with an email indicating intent to apply for this challenge, the project title, and all external collaborators and their institutions.

    Recipients must submit a signed agreement form indicating the project leader’s responsibility for managing and reporting on the use of all grant funds, before award funds will be released. Recipients must also be prepared to work closely with those administering sub award grants on their campuses, typically the Office of Sponsored Programs, the Grants and Contracts Office, or equivalents.

    Application Requirements

    • Completed Signature Page and Application Checklist
    • Abstract of proposal (no more than 200 words)
    • Proposal narrative of no more than 2,000 words. This must include:
      • Description of project
      • Detailed plan of work, including
        • Plans for the Graduate Lab Practicum.
        • Plans for Undergraduate Outreach.
        • Comprehensive plan for institutional collaboration across the life of the grant.
      • Detailed work schedule including detailed list of activities from 1/1/2018 through 12/31/2020.
      • Role(s) and expected intellectual contributions of project participants.
      • Significance of project and its relationship to the “The Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate.”
      • Statement of proposed outcomes.
    • Detailed budget and budget narrative explaining and justifying all items in the budget. All proposals must use the budget template and budget justification forms provided on the HWW website.
    • Name and contact information for the departmental-level financial manager at the lead institution. This should be the individual the project leader works with on a day-to-day basis, for financial and grant management.
    • CV for project leader and all research participants, including all graduate students (2-pages maximum per CV, should include publications and activities relevant to the proposed project).
    • List of names and contact information for everyone participating in the project for whom you are submitting CVs, along with a brief description of their individual intellectual contributions to the collaboration. Clearly indicate project leader and coordinators.
    • Letter of Intent from the Project Leader University. This letter indicates that the proposal has been reviewed and approved at an institutional level and is typically provided by your sponsored projects office.

    Budget Guidance

    The proposal budget should constitute your best estimate of the project’s total costs. Costs to consider in planning a robust budget include personnel and fringe benefits, materials and supplies, travel, and participant costs. The budget justification should explain the budget in sufficient detail to provide a clear understanding of the necessity and basis for all proposed costs.

    Acceptable budget items include air and ground travel, hotel/accommodations, speaker fees/honoraria, venue fees, copying/reproduction costs, publicity costs, graduate student assistantship stipends, and hourly research assistant costs.

    In general, the budget justification should explain the methodology by which the budget numbers were calculated. For example, for a salary calculation, instead of indicating “1 month summer salary - $10,000,” you might write, “1 month summer salary @ base salary $90,000 on 9/12 appointment=$10,000. A narrative description of each individual’s role in the project would also be appropriate.

    Similarly, for travel expenses, please provide detailed information regarding each trip. For example, “4 trips per year to meet with collaborative institution X. Hotel: 3 nights @100 night=$300; Airfare: $250, Per Diem: 50/day x 3=$150. Total per trip $700 x 4 =$2800.”

    Summer salaries are allowable but must not total more than $10,000 per participant (not including applicable fringe benefits) and should comprise no more than 20% of the award budget (again, not including applicable fringe benefits). All positions for which summer salary is requested should be named and described in the budget and budget justification. The determination of each summer salary must be spelled out explicitly in the budget justification.

    Food and catering costs are allowable but (1) must constitute no more than 3% of the total budget, (2) must be called-out and broken-down in the budget justification in a detailed manner which indicated your home institution’s upper spending per meal, an estimate of the number of attendees; a robust justification must be provided for the inclusion of these expenses.

    Faculty salary replacements, staff salaries, basic equipment purchases (such as computers), and alcoholic beverages included in costs for meals/receptions related to projects will not be funded. Indirect costs are not allowed.

    See the FAQ on the HWW website for more detailed information on allowable expenses. All expenditures must be made in keeping with the relevant universities’ guidelines and best practices related to purchases, procurements, and travel.

    Sub Awards

    Each project will have at least one lead and one collaborating institution. Structurally, the lead institution will receive the full award and then issue a sub award to the collaborating partner (s). Each sub award collaborator should complete an institutional letter of support, statement of work, budget form and budget justification form and submit it to the lead institution. These materials should be included with the primary applicant’s proposal.

    Budget and Budget Justification Forms

    The budget forms are available on the HWW website. The budget spreadsheet is designed to capture the pertinent financial information within the categories provided. Thus, only the gray areas of the spreadsheet are editable. All expenses for your project should fit into one of the existing budget categories. If you find that you need to alter the budget form, please contact Grants Specialist Jenna Zieman ( for assistance.

    The budget justification form provides an outline of the categories on the budget spreadsheet. Please complete it using the justification guidance above.

    Applicants will know the results of the competition by the end of December 2017. Funds will be awarded to successful recipients as quickly as possible after the decision date with the expectation that work will commence as soon as possible following the award announcement. Those with concerns that delays in the issuance of funding will result in delays in their research timelines should work with their departmental or college business offices and sponsored programs offices (or equivalent) to establish any necessary anticipation accounts.

    Application Deadline

    October 31st, 2017
    5:00 p.m. CST


    Request for Proposals (print version)