Humanities for the Public Good was a multi-year, $1.5-million initiative intended to recognize and catalyze publicly engaged scholarly activity among humanists and humanistic social scientists at UNC-Chapel Hill. Initiated by Terry Rhodes, former Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, with support from the Institute for the Arts & Humanities and funding from the Mellon Foundation. Next led by Elizabeth Engelhardt, Senior Associate Dean of the Fine Arts & Humanities, the initiative offered grants and programmatic opportunities primarily aimed at graduate students and faculty in partnership with cultural institutions within and beyond the academy.

The emphases of the initiative was on integrating: public engagement in graduate education, through grants, teaching, and workshops; public and digital humanities efforts, an effort which was spearheaded by the Digital Integration Coordinator at the Digital Innovation Lab; and valorizing and promoting civic engagement in faculty teaching and research in the humanities through grants and associated workshops. This work relied upon and complements the long-standing work of UNC-Chapel Hill’s array of programs, centers, institutes, and initiatives which have served as bridges between the university and its many internal and external publics.

Fellowships, Programs, and Funds

Critical Issues Project Fund – Themed collaborative projects that engage the public using humanistic methods and content.

Humanities for the Public Good Graduate Fellows – Academic Year Fellowship Placements for Graduate Students in the Humanities.

Humanities Professional Pathways Award – Project based Graduate Student summer fellowships.

(Beyond the) Campus Programs Fund – Awards to interact with collaborators, participants, or audiences beyond the campus.

Faculty Engagement in the Public Humanities – Funds faculty travel and incidental costs during engagement in public scholarship.

About the Director

Ashley Melzer is a producer, writer and media-maker living in Durham, NC. Born in North Florida, she received her Bachelors in Cinematic Arts from the University of Southern California and then a Masters in Folklore from UNC-Chapel Hill. Her writing and photography has been featured in Paste Magazine, eMusic, the Southern Foodways Alliance, and Indy Week to name a few. She’s worked with Hopscotch, Moogfest, Thornapple Films, The Southern Oral History Program, Southern Cultures Journal and more. Ashley produced the award winning feature documentary You Gave Me A Song: The Life and Music of Alice Gerrard, which premiered at the Full Frame Film Festival in 2019 and on PBS Reel South in 2020. She is director and producer of Zara, a one person show about an anxious, asthmatic Muslim kid’s search for meaning and the chance encounters that impacted him. Ashley is the founder of Mettlesome, a creative, project based collective, for which she performs, directs, writes and teaches comedy.

Contact Ashley Melzer with any inquiries.


Steering Committee Chair

Elizabeth Engelhardt, Senior Associate Dean for Fine Arts and Humanities


Steering Committee

Andrew AghapourIndependent Scholar, Religious Studies Alum

Renee Alexander Craft, Associate Professor, Communication

Daniel Anderson, Curriculum Coordinator, Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative

Carolyn Allmendinger, Director of Education and Interpretation, Ackland Art Museum

Jennifer BoehmGraduate Student, English and Comparative Lit

Monica Figueroa, Music Cataloging Librarian, University Library

David Garcia, ProfessorMusic

Hannah Gill, Program Director, Latino Migration Project

Amanda Graham, Associate Director of Engagement, Carolina Performing Arts

Joseph Jordan, Director, Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Meli Kimathi, Graduate Student, Communication

Seth KotchDirector, Southern Oral History Program 

Lloyd Kramer, Faculty Director, Carolina Public Humanities

Abigail Lee, Graduate Student, English and Comparative Lit

Isabell MooreGraduate Student, History

Katie Murray, Director, Orange County Arts Commission 

Christie Norris, Director of K-12 Outreach, Carolina Public Humanities 

Todd OchoaAssociate Professor, Religious Studies

Cherie Rivers NdalikoAssociate Professor, Music

Michelle RobinsonAssociate Chair, American Studies

Kathryn WagnerAssociate Director, Arts Everywhere

Tommie WatsonExecutive Director, Institute of the Arts and Humanities

Kathy Williams, Company Artistic Associate, PlayMakers Rep