Humanities Without Walls Opportunities

Humanities Without Walls logo

The Center for Digital Research in the Humanities is among 16 partners in a $3 million project that seeks to create new avenues of collaborative research, teaching and scholarship in the humanities.

Call for Applications: 2021 HWW National Predoc Career Diversity Workshop

Humanities Without Walls (HWW) is a consortium of humanities centers and institutes at 16 major research universities throughout the Midwest and beyond. Based at the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), HWW has been funded by three successive grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

In summer 2021, HWW is holding its first online, national, virtual summer workshop for doctoral students interested in learning about careers outside of the academy and/or the tenure track system. Through a series of workshops, talks, and virtual field trips, participants learn how to leverage their skills and training towards careers in the private sector, the non-profit world, arts administration, public media and many other fields. All aspects of the workshop will be remote, virtual, and online in nature.

We invite applications from doctoral students pursuing degree in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to participate in this three-week, virtual summer workshop. This is a limited-submission application. Eligible doctoral students must be nominated for this fellowship by their home institutions, and only one nomination may be made to HWW by each university. To be considered, interested UNL doctoral students must submit their applications to Katherine Walter's attention at by October 31st, 2020. Please do not submit your applications directly to HWW.

About the Workshop

The Humanities Without Walls summer workshop utilizes a fellow-centered approach to assisting humanities PhD students with the development of their careers. Our principles emphasize student agency while giving attendees space to reflect on values. We have learned that centering the needs of each fellow results in empowered PhD professionals ready to tackle the world which await them post-degree. Our sessions intentionally layer foundations for the fellows as they do the real-time work of discerning personal career values, building community within the fellowship cohort, and researching potential career paths. The workshop models effective strategies that enable our fellows to prepare for a successful job search today and for the career transitions which will come in the future.

The very concept of “humanities without walls” commits us to the work of racial and social justice in the context of career diversity programming. Therefore, we work to create sessions which help us grapple with the long history of implicit racial, gender, and class bias so often concealed in the guise of “professionalism.” HWW’s commitment to the values of reciprocity and redistribution allows our fellows an opportunity to thread the work of racial justice and social equity into their developing life and career goals and to think about inclusion by design as part of their work in the world, whatever shape that may take.

Launched in 2015 as an initiative of the HWW consortium, the workshop welcomes participants each summer from higher education institutions across the United States. HWW Summer Workshop Fellows work in a variety of academic disciplines. They are scholars and practitioners who come with experience in community building, museum curation, filmmaking, radio programming, social media, project management, research, writing, and teaching. They are typically invested in the pressing social justice issues of our time and are seeking ways to bring humanistic values, insights, and skills to their work lives, whether in the public and private sector.

In the spirit of practice-oriented learning, HWW has partnered with entities such as IDEO, a design and consulting firm, the Joyce Foundation, and the Canadian Museum of History, amongst others, to lead students in real-world problem-solving exercises around important contemporary issues. Recognizing that each fellow’s skillset has been primarily oriented toward an academic track, the workshop includes sessions on values-based career planning, resume and cover letter construction, networking, and social media strategies from experts in career development.

Graduates from the workshop will emerge with a network of contacts in a range of professional realms; a significantly broadened sense of the career possibilities that await humanities PhDs; a cohort of HWW Summer Workshop Fellows (and friends!) from whom they may draw support and advice; and a set of resources aimed at helping them advance into the various realms considered under the broad rubric of “the public humanities.”


Online. All workshop sessions will be virtual, taking place remotely via the Zoom video communications app.


Summer 2021—July 19th through August 6th. Online, virtual workshop sessions are planned for approximately four hours per day, to be scheduled between 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, for three weeks. Synchronous and asynchronous programming will comprise the remaining four hours per day.


All applicants must be enrolled in a doctoral degree program in a humanities or humanistic social science discipline at a PhD-granting institution within the United States. Applicants may be at any stage of their doctoral work, but they cannot have already received the doctoral degree at the time the workshop takes place. Applicants cannot have a graduation date on or before July 1st, 2021. International students are eligible to apply, but are responsible for confirming their registration and eligibility status at their home universities; HWW is not responsible for issuing visa paperwork.

Fellowship Award

Each Fellow will receive a $5,000 award. All Fellows are expected to attend all online workshop sessions and be active participants in the asynchronous and synchronous elements of the virtual workshop for its entirety.

Application Requirements

Interested doctoral students in the humanities should submit their applications to their home universities’ humanities center director by October 31st, 2020. Combine and submit all application materials as a single PDF file to Please do not submit your applications directly to HWW.

The application file should contain:

  • A completed application cover sheet.
  • A narrative (1,000 words maximum) explaining the applicant’s intended career trajectory and addressing the following questions:
    • What does “career diversity” mean to you and what do you know about career diversity in graduate education?
    • Why are you interested in attending the workshop?
    • What kinds of knowledge are you seeking from the workshop?
    • How do you envision sharing what you learn at the workshop with your department, campus, and beyond?
    • What experiences have you had in applied or public humanities or public engagement?
    • What do you hope to achieve as a result of attending the workshop?
  • CV (two pages maximum),
  • Two letters of recommendation. One letter should be from the applicant’s primary adviser/dissertation chair; both should emphasize the applicant’s fit for this workshop

Application Procedures

This is a limited-submission application. Eligible doctoral students must be nominated for this fellowship by their home institutions, and only one nomination may be submitted to HWW from any given university.

Interested students must submit the application materials listed above to their universities’ humanities center director by October 31st, 2020. Please do not submit your applications directly to HWW.

Humanities Center Directors should submit the application for their nominee by midnight CST on December 1st, 2020. Applications should be submitted to as a single PDF file attached to an email with the subject line “2021 Predoc Application.”

Announcement of fellowship awards will be made in January 2021.

Accommodation Statement

If you will need disability-related accommodations in order to participate in this program/event, please contact HWW’s Director of Operations, Jason Mierek, at 217-300-3711 or Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your access needs.

Grand Research Challenge: Humanities Without Walls

HWW’s third Grand Research Challenge will require applicants to build a commitment to methodologies of reciprocity and redistribution into their project design that is clearly communicated in their proposal narratives, regardless of the research topic or theme they focus on.

Reciprocity and redistribution are methods for engaging collaborators in genuinely equal and ethical partnerships—partnerships that are not one-directional (i.e., only from campus outward) or faculty-centered (i.e., hierarchical in ways that privilege presumptively white western scholarly expertise over other forms of knowing).

Reciprocity and redistribution are strategies for equity-based change by design. These strategies aim to challenge the academic status quo by enabling community partners to participate on their own terms; to co-design and co-create transformative projects; and to be equitably resourced for their time and contributions.

A commitment to practices of reciprocity and redistribution also opens up possibilities for new forms of collaboration between faculty and graduate students and staff; between HWW partner universities and regional and community colleges; between Predominantly White Institutions and Minority Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Tribal Colleges; and between each campus and its variety of public stakeholders.

Through modes of research partnership that are reciprocal and redistributive, collaborators will demonstrate that “humanities without walls” is not only a metaphor but also a strategic commitment to imagining and doing academic work more inclusively—with universal access, social equity and racial diversity always front of mind.

By December 1, 2020, UNL humanities faculty who are interested in the Reciprocity and Redistribution HWW grants should contact Katherine Walter, Professor and Co-director, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities to discuss potential projects. Appointments can be made by contacting

The Call for Proposals will be available here in March 2021.

About Humanities Without Walls July 2, 2014

The Humanities Without Walls consortium is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and will be administered by the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Urbana-Champaign. About $1.5 million is being shared with partnering schools through an additional competitive grant process. Katherine Walter, co-director of the CDRH, is overseeing the project at UNL.

Humanities Without Walls was created with a mission of “forging and sustaining areas of inquiry that cannot be created or maintained without cross-institutional cooperation,” according to a statement from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Humanities Without Walls includes 13 universities from the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of the Big Ten member universities plus the University of Chicago.

The project has two prongs. The first is “The Global Midwest,” a research commitment that aims to establish the Midwest as a force within today’s globalized society, as well as demonstrate how the applied humanities continue to aid in solving global challenges. The second is a series of workshops for doctoral students to prepare them for careers outside of academia.

Walter served on the planning committee for more than a year before the project was officially funded. She said UNL would receive a modest seed fund from the partnership to promote new cross-institutional projects. This fall, Humanities Without Walls will select and fund new scholarly research projects that foster a collaborative, multi-institutional approach. Walter said that a smaller, internal competition grants would be announced in August.

“Humanities Without Walls addresses many issues raised in the 2013 American Academy of Arts and Sciences report, ‘The Heart of the Matter: Humanities and Social Sciences for a Vibrant, Competitive and Secure Nation,’” Walter said. “Through this program, UNL faculty will have the opportunity to engage in exciting research challenges, and graduate students will learn about alternative and rewarding academic careers.”

Dianne Harris, director of Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, is the project’s principal investigator. The other partners are Indiana University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, the University of Chicago, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Illinois at Chicago and UNL.

By Deann Gayman, University CommunicationsPublished July 2, 2014, UNL Today