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Mellon Public Engagement and the Humanities Workshop

The Mellon-funded summer program on public engagement and the humanities will bring together a team of humanities faculty and graduate students to explore, learn, and practice skills to present their research while aiming to narrow the gap between humanities and public audiences outside the university. A small group of six faculty and six graduate students will spend eight weeks during the summer learning tools for public communication, visiting the public humanities ecosystem in Michigan, exploring why collaboration and public engagement matters to the humanities, and developing connections to implement their new knowledge and shared understanding to specific projects that integrate research and public engagement.

The program will consist of a mix of workshops, collaborative work, site visits, and hands-on activities that all allow participants to explore issues of public engagement and the humanities in more depth. Workshops will train participants in collaborative practice, public writing, and public communications. During site visits, participants will travel to local organizations, such as museums, libraries, or nonprofits, where they will have the chance to have a structured conversation with one or more hosts at that organization.


Participants must be available for workshop meetings and site visits on Tuesdays and Fridays during the Spring Term, May 7 to June 21.

Who is Eligible to Apply

  • There are spaces for 6 graduate students and 6 faculty.
  • Graduate students in any humanities or humanistic social sciences field interested in advancing their public scholarship in collaboration with peers, faculty, and public humanities professionals.
  • Faculty interested in working collaboratively to advance their scholarship and impact outside the university.

Graduate student preference given to those who have participated in one or more of the following Rackham Program in Public Scholarship Programs:

  • Institute for Social Change
  • Engaged Pedagogy Initiative
  • Mellon Public Humanities and/or Rackham Public Engagement Fellowship
  • Public Scholarship Grant recipient


  • Students: $8,000
  • Faculty: Summer ninth (up to $12,000)


  • Make connections between humanities faculty and graduate students across departments.
  • Foster knowledge of public humanities methods and institutions among faculty and graduate students.
  • Provide support for faculty and graduate students in developing a public engagement project.


  • Excitement and openness to working collaboratively.
  • Attend all workshops, meeting dates, and site visits.
  • Letter of recommendation from a faculty member (graduate students only; does not need to be your advisor/chair).
  • Organize a departmental workshop on public engagement in the year following participation in the program (faculty only).
  • Create and/or make significant progress on plans for a new public cultural good or service that connects your research to public audiences (see examples below).

How to Apply

Please submit the following materials to by Friday, January 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. :

  • Short one to two page letter describing your interest and commitment to collaborative work and public engagement, as well as a project you are currently working on or would like to develop as a publicly engaged endeavor (should result in the public good you create during the program).
  • Short C.V. or resume (3 pages maximum).

Examples of Public Humanities Projects

We define a public good broadly: products or services that are provided without profit to all members of a society (such as exhibits, oral histories, archives, documentaries, etc.). For the purposes of this program, consider the following criteria (not all criteria are applicable to all possible projects): plan for sustainability beyond participation in the program; plan for engaging the widest possible public (e.g., how you will advertise, engage stakeholders and disseminate impact); potential contributions to public knowledge or community policy or influence upon professional practice; models that enrich the artistic and cultural life of a community; partners and collaborators that add to the public goods’ relevance and significance.

For examples of publicly engaged humanities projects at colleges and universities, see the database sponsored by the National Humanities Alliance, Humanities for All.

Contact the Program in Public Scholarship

1530 Rackham Building
915 E. Washington St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070


The Program in Public Scholarship is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year's, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.