In collaboration with the Andrew W. Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls (HWW) project led by the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Obermann Center is offering summer 2022 Seed Grants to support the development of applications for the final HWW Grand Research Challenge. The Obermann Seed Grants provide up to $10,000 for faculty-led teams to develop proposals this summer which they will then submit to HWW, for a grant of up to $150,000 for collaborative projects.

The deadline for the Obermann summer seed grant is May 3, 2022. The deadline for the full grant application is November 15, 2022. 

The Obermann Center is a long-time member of this multi-university consortium.

HWW's goal is to fund projects that are dedicated to “interdisciplinary, collaborative, research-based projects in the humanities and arts that build a clearly communicated commitment to methodologies of reciprocity and redistribution into their project design and proposal narratives, regardless of the research topic or theme they focus on.” 

The topic is open, and the teams can include faculty, staff, community partners, and colleagues from other colleges and universities. Each team must have a role for graduate students. The Obermann Seed Grants of up to $10,000 are designed to support teams that will work together this summer to prepare their final application which is due November 15. This award is for the academic year 2023-24.

During the summer, Obermann Center Director Teresa Mangum will lead a workshop to help applicants write strong applications.

To learn more, please carefully read the HWW website to be sure your project idea meets the grant requirements, then schedule an appointment with Obermann Director Teresa Mangum ( before applying.

If you are interested in applying:

  • Please read the information below, including the HWW PowerPoint slides, and
  • Contact Obermann Director Teresa Mangum for more information (
  • You can also find excellent resources, including a video series on this grant opportunity and how to write strong grants more generally, on the HWW website


Preparing for Your Seed Grant Application

The emphasis in this final round of the HWW grant (academic year 2023-24) will be to build a commitment to methodologies of reciprocity and redistribution into project design that is clearly communicated in proposal narratives, regardless of the research topic or theme. The HRI has provided the Obermann Center with seed grant funding to help faculty members develop proposals. This funding can be used to support group members in holding a planning meeting. Early in the fall semester, the Obermann Center will also organize a grant-writing "sprint" for groups that apply to ensure strong applications that meet the criteria and get submitted in a timely fashion.

About the grant:

The grant, led by HRI Director and Principal Investigator Antoinette Burton, has funded two kinds of initiatives in the past. One initiative supports the development of summer workshops for pre-doctoral students in the humanities who intend to pursue careers outside of the academy. A second initiative funds cross-institutional teams of faculty, staff, graduate students, and other partners pursuing research that focuses on a grand challenge. Past collaborations have produced performances, publications, exhibitions, digital projects, new courses, and more. 

About the consortium:

The consortium includes members of the Big 10 Alliance, Indiana University Bloomington, Marquette University (joined the consortium in 2020), Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, as well as the Universities of Chicago, Illinois at Chicago, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin-Madison—plus the University of Notre Dame. The humanities centers at the consortial institutions, including the Obermann Center, serve as the hubs for collaboration.  

Collective resources:

The 21st century presents a clear and pressing need to collaboratively mobilize the collective resources of the heartland’s institutions of higher education. This consortium of humanities centers is advancing innovative and experimental research and pedagogical practices by sharing unevenly distributed resources across institutional walls and by testing new ideas at scale. Humanities centers can best undertake this work because they are already sites of innovation on university campuses, generating ideas and stimulating new knowledge on campuses through the creation and funding of major initiatives.

The Humanities Without Walls consortium is the first of its kind to experiment at this large scale with cross-institutional collaboration.

By leveraging the strengths of multiple distinctive campuses, the initiative, titled “Humanities Without Walls,” aims to create new avenues for collaborative research, teaching, and the production of scholarship in the humanities, forging and sustaining areas of inquiry that cannot be created or maintained without cross-institutional cooperation.


Emphasis on Reciprocity

To quote from the HWW website:

"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."

The Obermann Center will offer seed grant funding in spring 2022 to groups that would like to propose a multi-year project funded by awards of up to $150,000. Please watch our newsletter and visit this page for announcements about the seed grant competition.


Application Deadlines

  • The HWW Grand Research Challenge Grant applications are due November 15, 2022.
  • Seed Grant proposals are due to the Obermann Center by May 3, 2022.



To be eligible for funding, research teams must:


  • include participants from one HWW consortial partner institution and one or more of the following:
    • Regional and community colleges
    • Predominantly minority-serving institutions
    • Historically Black colleges and universities
    • Tribal colleges and universities
    • Community organizations

The Principal Investigator (PI) on the primary project must be tenure-line faculty at any of the Humanities Without Walls consortial institutions.

If partnering with one or more HWW consortial partner institutions, the PIs on the collaborating universities’ subawards must also be tenure-line faculty members.

The PI on the primary project must also come from a discipline within the humanities and/or arts, but teams may include scholars from any discipline.


Funding for Project Leaders

The Obermann Center will provide a $1,000 stipend for up to two project leaders per team to support developing and writing a grant application (a $500 initial award subject to the Workflow processing time and $500 upon submission of the application) and will lead a workshop to help applicants write strong applications.


Funding for Selected Projects

One to two selected teams will receive up to $5,000 with half available June 1 and the rest available upon submission for the November 15 deadline.


PowerPoint to Review

Before applying, carefully read the slides in this HWW-provided PowerPoint.


Application Materials

  • Application cover sheet
  • Letter of interest that addresses RFP on the HWW website (not more than 2 pages)
  • A list of participants who will be part of the seed grant planning
  • One-page work plan for the summer
  • Two-page CV from each project director
  • One-page budget to justify amount of summer seed grant request—up to $10,000