Whiting Public Engagement Programs

What: Nominations for Fellowships and Seed Grants in the 2021-22 Cycle
Who: Full-time, early-career humanities faculty at UCR (see Eligibility, below)
When: 2021-22 (See Selection Timeline, below)
UCR Deadline: May 1, 2020 *Extended*

The Whiting Public Engagement Programs aim to celebrate and empower early-career humanities faculty who undertake ambitious projects to infuse the depth, historical richness, and nuance of the humanities into public life.

In brief, the two programs are:

  • A Fellowship of $50,000 for projects far enough into development or execution to present specific, compelling evidence that they will successfully engage the intended public.
  • A Seed Grant of $10,000 for projects at a somewhat earlier stage of development, where more modest resources are needed to test or pilot a project or to collaborate with partners to finalize the planning for a larger project and begin work.

Eligible UCR faculty are invited to self-nominate by the deadline for consideration. One applicant proposal in each category will be submitted to the Foundation as the UCR 2021-22 nominee by the Center Advisory Committee.

The Whiting Foundation’s two Public Engagement Programs are intended to celebrate and empower early-career faculty who embrace public engagement as part of their scholarly vocation.

Partner schools are invited to nominate one humanities professor for each of the two programs: The Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship ($50,000) and Whiting Public Engagement Seed Grant ($10,000.)

The two programs are entirely separate: aspiring fellows need not have received a Seed Grant and receiving a Seed Grant does not automatically qualify a grantee for a future Fellowship

For projects far enough into development or execution to present specific, compelling evidence that they will successfully engage the intended public. For the strongest Fellowship proposals, both the overall strategy and the practical plan to implement the project will be deeply developed, relationships with key collaborators will be in place, and connections with the intended public will have been cultivated. In some cases, the nominee and collaborators may have tested the idea in a pilot, or the project itself may already be underway.

For projects at a somewhat earlier stage of development than the Fellowship, before the nominee has been able to establish a specific track record of success for the proposed public-facing work. It is not 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. A recipient might use the grant, for example, to test the project on a smaller scale or to engage deeply in planning with collaborators or the intended public.

The programs are designed to be flexible. Nominees may propose to use the funds however will best meet the needs of the project. In the past, recipients have allocated funds:

  • to support collaborators (individuals or organizations) for their time or work on the project;
  • to purchase required equipment and supplies;
  • to cover necessary travel for the grantee or collaborators;
  • to obtain targeted training crucial to the project for themselves or others;
  • to secure time, in the form of course release or longer leaves, if the project’s needs warrant.

Nominees must be full-time humanities faculty at UCR as of September 2020.

They must be early-career, which the Whiting defines as pre-tenure, untenured, or having received tenure in the last five years. (That is, at or after the end of academic year 2014-15. This timing refers to the professor’s first receipt of tenure, even if it occurred at a different institution.)

Full-time adjunct faculty at an equivalent career stage are also eligible.

April 3, 2020: Deadline for Applications to CIS.

May 1, 2020: Deadline for CIS to submit nominee name(s) to The Whiting Foundation.

June 15, 2020: Deadline for nominees to complete the first-round fellowship application online.

Mid-August 2020: Applicants notified of the results of the first round. Finalists will be asked to revise and expand their applications, incorporating feedback from the reviewers, and provide letters of recommendation and institutional support.

November 2, 2020: Deadline for final-round applications from finalists.

Mid-February 2021: Finalists will be notified of the results.

May-June 2021: Grantees will meet in New York City for a two-day convening.

Applicants should provide contact information and submit proposals by midnight, April 3, 2020, online at https://ideasandsociety.wufoo.com/forms/z1t67zdc0dhnnu6/

Proposal: The proposal format mirrors the Foundation application that UCR nominees will complete if selected for consideration in the 2021-22 cycle.

  1. Project precis (up to 50 words): Summarize very briefly what you are proposing to do, with an emphasis on activities and/or outcomes.
  2. Project overview and intended outcomes (up to 400 words): Provide a compelling summary of your public-facing project, making clear the humanities content, format of engagement, and anything to be produced by the project (if applicable). Lay out all of the activities you and your collaborators will undertake and specify your desired outcomes as clearly as possible. Be sure to indicate the project’s status and any work already completed and to distinguish between activities and outcomes to be accomplished during the Fellowship or Seed Grant and those to be accomplished in the future.
  3. Collaborators (up to 200 words, with letters or statements of support): Identify the partners who will be critical to the project’s success. For each, describe their qualifications, their specific role(s) in the project, and the status of your relationship (e.g., not yet contacted, in conversation, firmly committed). Indicate how collaborators will be compensated and credited. We encourage you to include letters of support from key partners. If you plan to seek out collaborators you have not yet identified, please indicate what kinds of people or organizations they might be and how you will find them.
  4. Existing work on similar subjects or in similar media (up to 200 words): Describe the competitive field for your proposed project. Much good work is already underway across the country in the public humanities, treating a variety of subjects through a range of approaches. What gaps exist in the field, and how does your project work to fill them? How does your project fill a need? Whatever your project may be, it is important to demonstrate your understanding of other work that is available on similar topics or in similar media. For example, K-12 teachers have access to a host of support materials and often face significant challenges of time, logistics, and bureaucracy to incorporating new content into their classes; if you intend to engage these teachers and their students, you will need to be aware of existing alternatives and how yours is additive. The story is similar for websites, podcasts, events, and other approaches to the public. Independent of medium, consider too the other public-facing resources available on your subject and how your project fits into the larger picture.
  5. Intended public and engagement plan (up to 50 words for intended public and up to 200 words for engagement plan): Briefly specify the segment of the public you intend to engage through your project. If there are multiple publics involved, clarify who the project is by, with, and for. Describe your plan to reach them, including the channels you will use. Be sure to make clear, in language compelling to a non-specialist, why the project will be engaging to the public you have chosen. Depending on the nature of the project, this might include a PR plan, personal connections in a community, or any other strategy to ensure that your project will engage its public. Bear in mind the difficulty of capturing attention in our media-saturated world; we are looking for evidence not just that your project will be available to a public but that they will be moved to participate in and be affected by it. Simply creating a project is rarely enough to ensure it has its desired effect. We are also looking for evidence that you have thought through the ways you will adapt your approach for your intended public–and that you have selected that public carefully.
  6. Non-academic skills required for success (up to 200 words): Any public-facing project draws not only on the intellectual acumen and subject-matter expertise that will be clear from your CV but also on skills less obviously associated with traditional academic work. Indicate the non-academic skills required for the project to succeed and describe how you have demonstrated expertise in each or will collaborate with someone who has. If your project has a significant digital or audiovisual component, you will also be able to provide a separate technology plan of up to 200 words specifying details such as the platform(s) you will use and how you chose them.
  7. Timeline (up to 200 words): Indicate the timeline of the major steps and milestones for your project. If the project will not be completed in the term of the Fellowship or Seed Grant, be sure to indicate how that term fits into the larger timeline. A realistic timeline is a helpful indicator to the judges that you have thought through your project and are poised to succeed with it. Note that projects may already be in progress and need not be finished during the Fellowship or Seed Grant period, but we expect that substantial progress will be made through the concentrated attention they allow.
  8. Budget and use of funds (up to 200 words): Lay out the budget for the overarching public-facing project. Describe how you and your collaborators intend to use the Fellowship or Seed Grant funds in particular to advance the project. Also list any other funding you have secured or intend to pursue for the work. A realistic budget is another helpful indicator to the judges that you have thought through your project and are poised to succeed with it. We strongly encourage applicants to upload a simple budget in chart form.
  9. Public-facing work sample (optional; up to 2 files or links): You may attach one or two short samples of public-facing work. While the work sample is optional, we strongly recommend including one. For the kinds of projects where this is possible, samples have proved extremely useful in demonstrating to the judges the applicant’s mastery of the relevant skills. If you have already begun your public-facing project and have a very short sample you would like to submit, please upload it. Alternatively, you may include a very short sample from a public-facing project you have previously undertaken. Please be sure to select as concise a sample as possible. Ideally this will be in the same medium as the project you are applying with. You may also include a work sample from a collaborator, but please only do so if it is a major component of the project (for instance, a clip from a collaborating filmmaker), and please clearly indicate the authorship.
  10. Resume/CV and personal statement (resume/CV is required; personal statement up to 200 words is optional): Include a concise resume or CV highlighting your work most relevant to the project and any previous public-engagement experience, if applicable. If you wish, you may include a brief statement highlighting any relevant skills, experience, or personal connections to your project that are fully described in your CV or elsewhere in this application. For example, you may want to discuss previous experience reaching audiences outside the academy and discuss how public engagement has fit into your past, current, and future work. If your project is rooted in community engagement, you may discuss your relationship to the community you’re working with. This is also an opportunity to explain how your project fits into your larger career as a publicly engaged scholar.

Download additional advice and full program information

For questions about eligibility or nomination process, email Katharine.Henshaw@ucr.edu

Download Full Program Information