Dan Higgins was a professor in the Art Department at UVM for 34 years (1969-2003). An active and widely-exhibited photographer, 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

In the spirit of Dan’s community-oriented, place-based, and cross-disciplinary approach, the goals of this award are to:

  1. encourage UVM students to employ their academic perspectives and creative skills in creation of publicly-engaged creative and scholarly projects that cross boundaries between campus and community;
  2. encourage and support student and faculty interaction with members of underrepresented social communities strive to connect in an effort to expand awareness of the character and perspectives concerns of  of those groups.; and
  3. encourage innovative thinking in the creation of an exhibition, performance, or other public presentation where the results of the study can be shared, both in the communities where the projects occurred and in outside venues as well.

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 provide information on project participants and community partner(s), and expected outcomes/results. Be sure to address how this project meets the award’s goals, which are to cultivate crossing boundaries between campus and community; engage with the concerns of underrepresented social communities; and foster risk-taking and innovation through disciplinary boundary-crossing in the arts and humanities.
  • 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.