Apply to Be a Mellon Humanities Futures Undergraduate Fellow with the Humanities for the Public Good Initiative!


The Program

Humanities Futures is a new undergraduate fellowship program of the Humanities for the Public Good Initiative, which will support ten undergraduate humanities majors as they reconsider and work to reshape contemporary public understanding of “the humanities” in the United States in 2020.

This program is made possible with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the College of Arts & Sciences. Its core goal is cultivating leadership among publicly engaged undergraduate humanists.

The Purpose

For the last 30 years, humanists have been playing defense—well aware that critics sometimes find their course of study obscure or impractical. But generations of humanities majors before them have found their studies to be socially relevant, personally meaningful, and professionally valuable—as indicated by data that has consistently found humanists to be well-prepared, well-adjusted, and well-compensated.

The contemporary stigma against studying the humanities has multiple roots:  in centuries of elitist, racist, and sexist gate-keeping in university admissions, in political backlash against efforts in the last half-century to make the humanities more inclusive and democratic, and in response to recent pressures that have sought to vocationalize higher education generally.

As a result of the public perception of the humanities, contemporary undergraduates often face family pressure, peer pushback, and personal anxiety—all of which can make it hard to focus on long-term life goals, professional and otherwise.

The Humanities Futures program intends, with your help, to change that.

The Protocol

On Wednesdays from 4:30-6 p.m. from November 20th to the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, the Humanities Futures program is designed to foster undergraduate fellows’ capacity to critically envision, design, budget, and implement a publicly engaged project that makes an intervention in public understanding of what it means to study the humanities here and now. To that end, fellows will collaboratively:

  • engage in seminar-style discussions with short readings and/or group exercises to build group understanding of the “problem” of the humanities
  • meet for informal discussions with guest speakers who will model some of the range of possible life and career outcomes for humanities majors
  • participate in Humanities Lab sessions in which to work on refining and carrying out their own individual projects, with the help of graduate mentors Smita Misra (Communication) and Michelle Padley (Geography)

Examples of possible projects include, but are by no means limited to:  public writing (op-eds, other creative non-fiction); curating a digital or actual exhibition; building a public program (ft. speakers, performers, etc.) on campus, in your hometown, or elsewhere; debuting a performance or piece of art work or other kind of show; creating a virtual or actual walking tour; or devising other media (including social media) for public dissemination.

A great project for the Humanities Futures Initiative will by necessity demonstrate the value of studying the humanities generally, but will tend to center on some narrower issue particular to your own interests, community, or course of study; and, in the best case, will offer some opportunities for participation by or feedback from those publics with whom it connects. The merit of proposed projects will be evaluated more by the quality of potential impact than on the quantity of people to be reached.

Fellows will receive a $500 stipend for their fellow’s work, and will be able to apply for up to $250 of project support for their engaged projects.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligible applicants must have declared a major in a humanities field by the time of application.

Eligible departments/majors/curricula are those programs affiliated with African, African American & Diaspora Studies; American Studies; Anthropology; Art & Art History; Asian Studies; Classics; Communication; Dramatic Art; English & Comparative Literature; Geograpy; Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literature; Global Studies; Peace, War & Defense; History; Linguistics; Music; Philosophy; Religious Studies; Romance Studies; and Women’s & Gender Studies. Humanistically inclined students in the Environment, Ecology, & Energy program may also apply.

The Humanities for the Public Good Initiative recognizes that humanists can be found in all walks of life; but by the nature of its funding, it cannot accept applications from undergraduate majors majoring in programs located in professional schools outside the College of Arts & Sciences.

Students of color, women, students from under-served communities including rural communities in North Carolina or beyond, LGBTQ+ students, students who belong to religious minorities, military-affiliated students, “non-traditional” students (aged beyond 18-22), and students with visible or invisible disabilities are encouraged to apply.

In order to be paid the fellowship stipend, fellows must be eligible to be paid by the university (that is, have completed/be able to complete the I-9 form).

Application Information

A complete application consists of a cover letter & resume or C.V.; and a completed recommendation form.

The cover letter, which ought to be no longer than 1,200 words, should specifically address your own “stake” in the issue of public perception of studying the humanities; refer to any past projects you’ve successfully implemented or leadership experience you’ve had; offer a general sense of your professional goals; and briefly describe a public project you might undertake in the spring semester if selected as a Humanities Futures Fellow. In short, it should explain not only your interest in but your qualifications and your goals for, and after, the fellowship.

Please send your recommender this link to the portal in which to submit their recommendation securely. Your application form itself will not trigger an email to your recommender. A good recommender for this fellowship is someone who knows your character and work style personally, and may be a faculty member, graduate teaching assistant, or past or current supervisor or employer.

Applications are due by midnight on Monday, November 4th, 2019.

For further information, an info session will be held in the Donovan Lounge (Greenlaw 223) on Monday, October 21st, at 4:30 p.m. Please RSVP here.