University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Humanities Center

Public Humanities Fellowship

The Humanities Center provides two fellowships per year of $5,000 each to enable full-time tenure-track faculty to undertake collaborative humanities projects in partnership with community or other public organizations. The goals of this program are to 1) bring humanities perspectives to bear on issues of public concern, civic life, and the common good; 2) create strong and sustainable relationships between UVM humanities scholars and the broader community; and 3) support the professional development of humanities faculty striving to connect their work to UVM’s land-grant mission and the broader public good. In addition to providing funding for fellows to plan and implement their projects, this program will also create systematic opportunities for fellows to interact with institutions involved in public humanities work in Vermont, especially the Vermont Humanities Council. 

Rationale: Public Humanities and the Land-Grant Mission
UVM has long emphasized the relationship between civic life and humanities scholarship and education. UVM became one of the first land-grant institutions in 1862, and Vermont Senator Justin Morrill, the author of the Morrill land-grant law, understood the necessity for citizens of all stations to be versed in the humanities. “The fundamental idea,” he explained to the Vermont state legislature, “was to offer an opportunity in every state for a liberal and larger education to larger numbers, not merely those destined to enter the sedentary professions, but to those needing higher instruction for the world’s business, for the industrial pursuits and professions of life.” Morrill’s banner was picked up a generation later by a member of the UVM class of 1879, the educational reformer and philosopher John Dewey, who dedicated his life to the notion that education—particularly in the humanistic disciplines—is vital to the well-being of the common good and the promotion of democratic ideals. His grave rests on the UVM campus, and the words on his tombstone remind us that the stakes of the humanities are nothing less than a responsibility for the ongoing survival of “the continuous human community of which we are a link.”

In the spirit of Morrill’s and Dewey’s recognition of the fundamental linkage between the humanities and civic life, this fellowship program provides resources for faculty who are committed to furthering the relationship between the humanities and issues of public concern. The Public Humanities Fellows program also strives to broaden the participation of UVM faculty in community-engaged work, our intention being to help the wider university appreciate and understand the conditions of engaged humanities scholarship, demonstrate the importance and utility of the humanities in public life, and support the creation of sustained relationships between university scholars and partner organizations.

Eligibility
Tenured, tenure-track, or lecturer faculty in humanities departments and/or faculty whose project proposal is humanistic in its goals and orientation. Partnerships between faculty members and student participation in a project are both welcome.

Use of the Award
In most cases, the awards will be used to cover direct project expenses, including travel, advertising, personnel, honoraria, space rental, or other related expenses. In a few cases, fellows may consider it desirable to dedicate all or a certain percentage of their award to salary, in order to devote time to the project. However, any amount taken as salary is subject to fringe and taxes. Awards will be available for four semesters from the time of the initial award; any unspent amounts will revert to the Humanities Center.

Evaluation of Proposals
Proposals will be evaluated by a panel consisting of faculty and community leaders in the humanities. Panelists will prioritize project proposals with the following characteristics:

  • A project that proposes sustained work blending academic humanities expertise and community interests, focusing on mutual benefits and a clearly defined outcome, and leading to a product that exemplifies engaged scholarship
  • Evidence of collaborative and committed partnerships pairing humanities scholars or teams with organizations at the community level or elsewhere in the public realm. The community need not be confined to Vermont or even the United States if it is clear that there is a sustained relationship with a community benefit in which the scholar is involved.
  • The potential for the project to attract external funding

We are especially interested in proposals that involve risk-taking and innovation and/or interdisciplinary collaborations connecting humanities scholars with artists, scientists, or social scientists.
Because a central goal of this program is to create and support strong and sustained relationships between humanities faculty and community partners, the Public Humanities Fellowships will not support single events such as a public lecture or standalone scholarly projects such as books and articles even though these activities may address issues of public concern.

Guidelines for proposals
Proposals should include the following, and be submitted as a single .pdf document:

  • A narrative of five single-spaced pages outlining the project, situating it in the humanities, demonstrating how it meets the criteria outlined above, and discussing the need for such a project. The narrative should provide information on project participants, community partner(s), and the terms of the collaboration with the off-campus entity/entities. It should also explain the project’s results, including what the community partner(s) will gain, any scholarly product that will result, and how the project is in the public interest.
  • A letter of commitment from the community partner(s).
  • A two-page C.V.
  • A short budget for the $5000 award.

Within one month of project completion, the awardee must share a five-page report outlining the successes and challenges involved in the project, as well as the project’s impacts on their career.
Deadline: Friday February 23, 2018, 4pm.
Questions and submission: If you have questions or would like to submit a proposal, please direct them to Prof. Luis Vivanco (lvivanco@uvm.edu)

Resources for Public Humanities
For information on engaged scholarship at UNH and on a number of other organizations involved in public humanities projects, these links may be useful.