Dan Higgins was a professor in the Art Department at UVM for 34 years (1969-2003). His work focused on the creation of photographs that explore cultural identities, lived conditions of place-based social communities, and political and social justice themes, based on a collaborative approach in which the images were created with the active participation of the people being photographed. The images were then exhibited in those communities to stimulate a broader dialogue about important social concerns. His projects were often focused on marginalized, vulnerable, and underrepresented communities in Vermont and elsewhere. As a teacher of UVM undergraduates, he taught a popular course in photography that was deliberately cross-disciplinary and community-based, bringing students from a variety of disciplines together to use their creative skills to explore social communities in collaboration with each other and with the communities that were the subject of their interest.

The Award

The Community Engaged Arts and Humanities award invites UVM students to take their talents off campus and to engage with groups in the community that interest them—especially those communities whose stories are underrepresented or poorly represented by the mainstream culture—and then to employ their creative skills in collaboration with members of the groups to translate their stories into creative and scholarly projects. We are especially interested in projects based in Vermont, though will consider applications for projects that are further afield.

The goals of this award are to:

  1. Encourage and support students and faculty striving to connect their work to the concerns of underrepresented social communities. Projects might explore cultural practices, identities, involvement with social issues, or simply highlight the character of little-known places where people might gather.
  2. Foster innovation in the arts and humanities by engaging with and responding to stories and issues that are important to underrepresented communities.
  3. Encourage and support the creation of publicly-engaged creative and scholarly projects resulting in exhibitions, performances, or other forms of public presentation, especially those that directly involve members of those communities.

The maximum amount of the award is $2,000.

Use of the Award

To support undergraduate or graduate student projects in the humanities and arts interacting with members of non-academic communities. Partnerships between students and/or students and faculty are welcome and encouraged. The award can be used to support project expenses, including but not limited to equipment, supplies, travel, advertising, scholarships, wages, honoraria, space rental, professional development costs, or other general related project expenses. Individual meals are not allowed, although food-related expenses for a community gathering are. If a faculty member is involved, funds cannot be used to pay a faculty member’s salary. Funds are available for three semesters from the time of the initial project award.


Fully-enrolled UVM undergraduate and graduate students. Faculty members (including tenure-track and lecturers) can also access these funds IF they are partnering with a student or students.


  • A narrative of three single-spaced pages describing the project and demonstrating how it will meet the award description and allowed uses outlined above. The narrative should:
    • Describe the group with which you hope to engage, what interests you about it, and what kinds of relationships you might already have with members of that community.
    • Explain the strategy you plan to use to engage with the community.
    •  Explain what academic or creative background and talents you bring to the project (Examples might include experience developing art exhibits, radio presentations, theater or dance performances, etc.)
    • Explain how your final project might directly involve community members in its execution.
  • A budget detailing the project expenses. Awards do not have to ask for the maximum $2,000 amount.
  • Students must also submit a letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor who will support the project


Applications are rolling, however, priority will be given to applications received by Oct. 15 (Fall semester) and Feb. 15 (Spring semester).

Requirements for Recipients

  • Acknowledge the following in ALL event announcements and/or publications resulting from the project: Dan Higgins Community-Engaged Arts and Humanities Fund and the UVM Humanities Center.
  • Submit a report of 3-4 pages summarizing completed activities within 1-month of project completion. Please include discussion of how and why the community-engagement goals were/were not met.