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About Humanities Without Walls

The Humanities Without Walls consortium links humanities centers at 15 research universities throughout the Midwest and beyond. The consortium is governed by a steering committee of center directors from the University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Notre Dame, and Pennsylvania State University. The other consortium members are Indiana University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Purdue University, and the Universities of Illinois-Chicago, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin-Madison.

The consortium members have been awarded $3,000,000 over two years by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The principal investigator is Professor Dianne Harris, Director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois. The contact person at the University of Iowa is Teresa Mangum, Director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.

Mellon’s generous support will allow University of Iowa faculty, research staff, and graduate students to participate with colleagues from the other consortium members in two initiatives. The first is a grand challenge, "The Global Midwest," which requires applications from teams with members from two or more consortial universities. The deadline for these grants is October 15, 2014.

To help faculty members prepare for this grant, including developing teams with members from other consortium institutions and planning collaborative projects, the Obermann Center is holding a seed grant competition for work to be accomplished in the summer of 2014. The deadline for the seed grants is March 14, 2014. [Description of seed grant program and checklist is below.]

The second Humanities Without Walls initiative is a Pre-doctoral Summer Workshop. This workshop will occur twice -- once in the summer of 2015 and again in summer 2016 with different student participants each summer. There will be space for two students from each HWW institution each summer (for a total of four UI students). Held in conjunction with the Chicago Humanities Festival, the workshop is intended for pre-doctoral students in the humanities who intend to pursue careers outside the academy. Graduate students from the humanities and qualitative social sciences will be eligible. Each campus will nominate four students for each workshop and a consortium review committee will make the final selection. The RFP for this program will be available in October of 2014 and again in October 2015.

Humanities Without Walls Initiatives and Dates At-a-Glance

HWW Initiative


Work Occurs

Application Deadline

Pre-doctoral Summer Workshops 

Summer workshops for pre-doctoral students in the humanities who intend to pursue careers outside the academy. Internal nomination process for UI.

Summer 2015 and Summer 2016 

December 1st of 2014 & 2015


(CFP available October 2014 and 2015)

The Global Midwest 

 This initiative is designed to stimulate collaborative research that imagines and positions the Midwest as a key site—now and in the past—in shaping global economies and cultures


October 15th  of 2014 & 2015


(RFP available August 1 of 2014 and 2015)

Obermann HWW Seed Grants

To help UI faculty develop competitive proposals for the Global Midwest inter-institutional collaborative grant. Up to $10,000 in summer funding.

Summer 2014

March 14, 2014

(Year 1 only)



The Global Midwest Initiative

Applications due October 15, 2014 and October 15, 2015. RFP available August 1, 2014 and 2015.

This initiative is designed to stimulate collaborative research that imagines and positions the Midwest as a key site—now and in the past—in shaping global economies and cultures. Cross-institutional teams of faculty, researchers, and graduate students will have the opportunity to apply for funding to support the work of these innovative teams in Fall 2014 and Fall 2015.

The consortium seeks projects that together result in “radical complementarity” rather than uniformity. These projects will generate original scholarship, but should also create public visibility for the grand challenges facing the Midwest. For example, faculty members might collaborate with public partners—such as museums, performance venues, humanities festivals, state humanities councils and historical societies, public policy centers, environmental organizations, etc.—to produce exhibitions, films, public forums, digital projects, and other means of disseminating their creations and discoveries as well as organizing symposia or conferences, commissioning art works, and publishing in scholarly venues such as book collections or special issues of journals. 

Teams will be able to apply for a portion of two separate $750,000 awards that will be available in 2014 and then again in 2015. Applications will be judged by a steering committee of consortium center directors. The due dates will be in October 15, 2014 for work to be carried out in 2015 and October 15, 2015 for work to be conducted in 2016.

Obermann HWW Seed Grant Program - to prepare for Global Midwest applications

Work will occur during summer of 2014. Applications are due Friday March 14, 2014.

In fall 2014 and 2015, faculty teams with members from two or more of the fifteen universities can apply for funding to develop collaborative two-year projects on the Global Midwest. To help teams prepare, the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies will offer several seed grants of up to $10,000 thanks to the generosity of the Mellon Foundation. We will host two information sessions to discuss possibilities for collaborative work with partners on this scale:

  • Friday, February 7, 8:30 - 9:30 am, Obermann Center 
  • Wednesday, February 12, 4:30 - 5:30 pm, Conference room in the Office of the Vice President for Research & Economic Development, 2670 UCC

You can also schedule a meeting with Obermann Director, Teresa Mangum to discuss project ideas before submitting your application. In addition, the Obermann Center can help faculty members organize brainstorming sessions with potential partners to discuss applying for a seed grant. Contact Erin Hackathorn for more information or to schedule an appointment .

See CHECKLIST below to learn specifics on how to apply.

How to Apply

Application Period: Monday, January 27, 2014 to Friday, March 14, 2014