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Northwestern University

Humanities Without Walls

A $3 million grant will foster collaborative work among 15 institutions

Northwestern University’s Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities is part of a consortium of 15 humanities institutes in the Midwest that has received a $3 million grant from the Mellon Foundation.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity for collaborative humanities work, not only for the Kaplan Institute, but for scholars across campus and across the Midwest,” said Professor Wendy Wall, director of the Kaplan Institute.

The initiative, called “Humanities Without Walls,” aims to create new avenues for collaborative research, teaching, and the production of scholarship in the humanities. It will forge and sustain areas of inquiry that cannot be created or maintained without cross-institutional cooperation. The "Humanities Without Walls" consortium will be the first of its kind to experiment at this large scale with cross-institutional collaboration.

Two core programs

Over the next three years, “Humanities Without Walls” will support two core programs. The first supports the development of summer workshops for pre-doctoral students in the humanities who intend to pursue careers outside the academy. The first of these workshops, to take place in the summer of 2015, will be held in Chicago and will be hosted by the Chicago Humanities Festival, a longtime partner of the Kaplan Institute.

The second initiative will fund cross-institutional teams of faculty and graduate students pursuing research and curricular developments that focus on a grand challenge: “The Global Midwest,” which is intended to stimulate collaborative research that rethinks and reveals the Midwest as a key site — both now and in the past — in shaping global economies and cultures.

Over the next few months, the Kaplan Institute will solicit proposals from the Northwestern community and award grants to Northwestern faculty and graduate students to develop projects that align with mission and focus of “The Global Midwest.” Faculty who secure these sub-awards will be poised to apply for more substantive funds that will be available in the next two years.

Institutions across the Midwest

“We are very excited to be moving forward with this initiative,” Wall said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for university-wide faculty participation and for building cross-institutional ties that we expect will thrive for years to come.” 

“Humanities Without Walls” is under the general direction of Dianne Harris, director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois.

The consortium includes 13 institutions that belong to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC): Indiana University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, Purdue University as well as the Universities of Chicago, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin-Madison—plus the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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