Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship and Seed Grant Programs


The Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship and Seed Grant Programs celebrate and empower early-career humanities faculty who embrace public engagement as part of the scholarly vocation. 

UMass Amherst has been invited to nominate one professor for each of these two programs. Both support ambitious projects infusing into public life the richness, profundity, and nuance that give the humanities their lasting value. The stage of a project will determine the relevant program.

  • Public Engagement Fellowship - $50,000 for projects far enough into development or execution to present specific, compelling evidence that they will successfully engage the intended public. Both the overall strategy and the practical plan to implement the project should be deeply developed, relationships with key collaborators should be in place, and connections with the intended public should be cultivated. In some cases, the idea may have been tested in a pilot, or the project itself may already be underway. 
  • Public Engagement Seed Grant - Up to $10,000 for projects at an earlier stage of development, before the nominee has established a specific track record of success for the proposed public-facing work. It is not, however, designed for projects starting entirely from scratch. Nominees should have fleshed out a compelling vision, including a clear sense of whose collaboration will be required and the ultimate scope and outcomes. They should also have articulated specific short-term next steps required to advance the project and understand the resources required to complete them.


Award Background:

  • Amount: 
    • Fellowship -  $50,000
    • Seed Grant - up to $10,000
  • Grant Period: February 2020 - January 2021
  • Number of applications/institution: 1 per program
  • Number of awards: Up to 7 Fellowships and up to 10 Seed Grants
  • Past Awardees: We strongly encourage you to review past Fellows and Seed Grantees to ascertain your competitiveness.


Eligibility/Funding Priorities:

  • Nominees must be a full-time humanities faculty member as of September 2019.
  • Nominees must be early-career, defined as pre-tenure, untenured, or having received tenure in the last five years. 
  • Nominees' proposed projects and professional expertise must both fit squarely within the humanities. The Humanities Indicators Projects list of disciplines is a useful starting point, with the following exceptions:
  • Projects designed to develop literacy in English or another language or to build creative writing skills are not eligible.
  • Projects stemming from cultural anthropology are eligible
  • Interpretive humanities are distinguished from creative arts, so a proposal to choreograph a new dance piece, for example, would not be eligible but one to create a film on the history and meaning of a choreographer's work would be.
  • Projects should be designed primarily to engage one or more specific audiences beyond the academy (i.e., fellow scholars and students).
  • Nominees should play a significant leadership role in the project, but intensive collaboration is encouraged where useful.
  • The programs do not currently support public facing writing.
  • Examples of common categories of public engagement include:
    • Public programming projects, including exhibits, public conversations, or walking tours;
    • Community-engagement projects involving members of a defined public as co-creators;
    • K-12-focused projects, including the development of classroom resources and participatory projects with students and teachers; and
    • Audiovisual projects, including podcasts, apps, and films.



Internal: April 12, 2019

External Nominations: May 17, 2019

External Applications: June 14, 2019


Internal Application Process

One nominee from UMass Amherst will be selected to submit to each of these two programs. The internal selection process will be informed by the grant program's guidelines and submission requirements and led by a committee composed of the deans of applicants' respective schools and colleges or their designees and, if necessary, the Provost, Vice Chancellor for Research Engagement, and/or faculty with relevant expertise.

If you are interested in applying, please send the following items as a single PDF by Friday, April 12, 2019 tocfr@umass.edu

  • A concept paper (2 pages max.) outlining:
    • Project overview and intended outcomes
    • Collaborators
    • Existing work on similar subjects or in similar media
    • Intended public and engagement plan
    • Non-academic skills required for success
    • Timeline
    • Draft budget and use of funds
  • A list of current and pending support  
  • Curriculum Vitae


Additional Information

For additional information, visit the programs' website.  If you have technical questions about the grant program or your eligibility, please contact Liz Smith in Corporate and Foundation Relations.