F.A.Q.

General Information

What universities belong to the Humanities Without Walls Consortium?

Indiana University Bloomington, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, Purdue University; and the Universities of Chicago, Illinois at Chicago, Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Iowa, Michigan, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin-Madison.

Back to top

How does Humanities Without Walls define the “humanities”?

Humanities Without Walls uses the definition of the humanities taken from the 1965 National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act:

“The term ‘humanities’ includes, but is not limited to, the study of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.”

Back to top

HWW Grand Research Challenges

The 2017 Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate Request for Proposals is now available. The deadline for submitting proposals will be October 31, 2016.

If you plan to submit an HWW proposal, you should work with your home university’s Office of Proposal Development or equivalent to ensure that your proposal meets all of the requirements in this RFP and also complies with your home university’s policies on sponsored research.

Project leaders and project coordinators should contact their Humanities Center, department chair, and college dean (when applicable) no later than October 1, 2016 with an email indicating intent to apply for this challenge, the project title, and all external collaborators and their institutions. We also strongly encourage project coordinators to begin working with their home universities offices with even more lead time, to ensure that all approvals are obtained in a timely fashion.

Proposals with an international component should be reviewed by your home university’s Office of International Programs or equivalent.

Proposals which involve human subjects should contact their Institutional Review Board or equivalent to ensure compliance and receive approval.

All project leaders/coordinators should also work with their university’s Office of Sponsored Programs or equivalent (see Contact information on the HWW website) to ensure that their application is in compliance with all relevant policies and procedures. We strongly encourage project leaders to begin working with these offices no later than fifteen business days before the submission deadline, in order to obtain all necessary approvals and signatures in a timely fashion.

If your question is not listed below, please contact the Humanities without Walls project manager (hww-manager@mx.uillinois.edu) to obtain an answer before committing funds. Your questions, and the answers we provide, will help make this FAQ an increasingly robust document.

Can awardees from earlier rounds of HWW Grand Research Challenges apply for funding in subsequent rounds?

Yes, awardees from earlier rounds of HWW Grand Research Challenges cancertainlyapply for subsequent rounds of funding. Their proposals will compete on equal footing with all other proposals.

Back to top

How should recipients of grant funds list the specific HWW Grand Research Challenge on publicity materials?

All products and publicity emanating from these funds should state the following:

“This project is supported by the Humanities Without Walls consortium, based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Humanities Without Walls consortium is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.” 

Additionally, recipients are advised to use the HWW logos in their products and publicity, although we do not yet have a firm requirement in place that they do so. You can download the HWW logo from our website.

Back to top

Our project's methodology is more aligned with the social sciences though the research subject would be humanities scholars.  Would that disqualify our submission?

We have no objection at all to the inclusion of scientists and social scientists working in teams with humanities faculty. In fact, we hope for such collaborations across disciplinary divides, and anticipated some “applied humanities” projects that will necessitate teams of scientists, social scientists, and humanists. The key will be to frame your project as pertaining to the rubric of the particular HWW Grand Research Challenge.

Back to top

I am a faculty member at a non-consortial affiliate university (e.g., Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis)—am I eligible to participate in the HWW Grand Research Challenges?

Non-consortial faculty may participate in proposed research activities, but only faculty from the 15 member institutions of the HWW Consortium may receive funding. Please see below for a more in-depth answer to what precisely constitutes disallowed “fund sharing” and what does not. 

Back to top

Are university library staff and/or graduate students eligible to participate in Humanities Without Walls research challenges?

Library staff and other academic professionals may be eligible to participate on research teams, with eligibility being determined ultimately by their home university’s policies. Graduate student participation is required in the present research challenge, “The Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate,” which research proposals must include two graduate students from at least one consortial institution.

Back to top

Can our proposal for “Changing Climate” initiative include a graduate student without a local faculty participant (e.g., the student’s adviser), if the student’s adviser is unable to participate?

Humanities without Walls will have a graduate student coordinator headquartered at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, and so consequently there should be no problem including a graduate student from an institution without a faculty collaborator.

Back to top

Are non-tenure track faculty eligible to apply for HWW research challenge funding?

Only tenure-line faculty qualify to be “project leaders” (PIs) and “project coordinators” (co-PIs at collaborating universities) on proposals, but non-tenure track faculty (as well as specialized faculty, research associates, and academic professionals) may certainly participate as members of faculty-led consortial teams if their home universities’ policies allow them to do so.   

Back to top

Are emeritus faculty eligible to participate in HWW-funded research? Are they able to apply for funding or act as sub-PIs?

Yes. In keeping with the greater mission of Humanities Without Walls as an incubator of collaborative research in the humanities, we would prefer to see proposals from early- and mid-career faculty members. That said, active emeritus faculty are not excluded from working as project leaders, project coordinators, or participants in the HWW Grand Research Challenges funded by Mellon as long as their affiliated university considers them eligible and has a mechanism in place to spend the funds.

Back to top

Are there any grant-specific guidelines related to the expenditure of funds allocated as part of the HWW Grand Research Challenges?

Grant awardees must use allocated funds only according to the budget approved in the award.

Allowable Expenditures
Summer salaries are allowable but must not total more than $10,000 per participant (not including applicable fringe benefits) and should comprise no more than 20% of the award budget (again, not including applicable fringe benefits). Proposals for co-teaching across institutional boundaries are also allowable.

Graduate assistant stipends are allowable, but not tuition remission. In order to support the graduate humanities lab practicum component of the research challenge, “The Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate,” funding has been specifically allocated to support up to two graduate programs per project via stipend. Proposal budgets should include a $10,500 stipend for each of the two graduate students ($21,000 total for two students per year) for the duration of the project’s period of performance, with tuition and fee waivers to be generated by each home institution. If tuition and fee waiver cannot secured from the home institution(s) of one or both graduate students, the $21,000 can be disbursed as summer money. This is intended to establish a floor for the proportion of the grant that may go to graduate student support. Budgets and statements of work may provide more graduate student support, but the funds in question must come from the “general” budget and not the funding specifically allocated for graduate student support. Project leaders and coordinator(s) should review the institutional guidelines at the graduate students’ home institutions to determine if there are limits placed on total graduate support.

Purchases of digital recorders, microphones, and other similar equipment are allowable only if they are essential to conducting the proposed research; such expenses should be justified in the budget proposal and detailed in project reporting.

Catering and other foods costs should be moderated wherever possible; all such proposed costs should be called-out and broken-down in the proposal budget in a detailed manner that indicates your home institution’s upper spending limit per meal. As well, we ask that the costs for receptions be kept moderate and within budget. Please note that alcohol cannot be purchased using grant funds.

Prohibited Expenditures
Course buyouts, general computer purchases, tuition & fee remits for graduate students, and postdoctoral fellowships are not allowable; tuition and fee waivers for the aforementioned graduate lab practicum must be generated by each home institution, or, if tuition and fee waiver cannot secured from the home institution(s) of one or both graduate students, the $21,000 can be disbursed as summer money. As noted above, alcohol purchases are not allowable on these funds. Additionally, Mellon does not allow indirect cost recovery or discretionary fund pools. Any funds not used for the purposes awarded and declared in the approved budget will return to the consortium.

All funds are to be spent toward development of faculty projects related to the Grand Research Challenge. Grant recipients must also follow and adhere to their home institutions’ policies for allowable expenditures.

Back to top

What sort of information should be included in proposal budgets?

The proposal budget should constitute your best estimate of the project’s total costs. Costs to consider in planning a robust budget include personnel and fringe benefits, materials and supplies, travel, and participant costs. The budget justification narrative should explain the budget in sufficient detail to provide a clear understanding of the necessity and basis for all proposed costs. The budget justification narrative should address each cost category in the same sequence in which they appear on the budget spreadsheet.

We strongly encourage scholarly teams to think expansively in budgetary terms, and to consider the costs of collaboration across the life of the grant and of public dissemination as they develop their budgets. Acceptable budget items include air and ground travel, hotel/accommodations, speaker fees/honoraria, venue fees, copying/reproduction costs, publicity costs, graduate student assistantship stipends, and hourly research assistant costs.

Budgetary guidance for specific types of expenses is provided below:

Summer Salaries: Summer salaries are allowable but must not total more than $10,000 per participant (not including applicable fringe benefits) and should comprise no more than 20% of the award budget (again, not including applicable fringe benefits). All positions for which summer salary is requested should be named and described in the budget & budget justification narrative; accurate and up-to-date fringe rates should also be included for all positions. Summer salary must be consistent with the current academic year’s rate of pay detailed in the Notification of Appointment (NOA). For employees with 9-month appointments, the monthly rate for summer pay is equal to the total Academic Year salary divided by 9 (and adjusted, if required, for differences in FTE.) The summer salary rate must never exceed the current academic year salary rate. The determination of each summer salary must be spelled out explicitly in the budget and budget justification narrative.

Graduate Students:Graduate student participation is required in the present research challenge, “The Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate,” which research proposals must include two graduate students from at least one consortial institution. The proposal should list the names of all collaborators, including graduate students. If the names of graduate students are unknown at the time the proposal is submitted, the proposal should list “TBD” for all such students. Please provide a detailed job description for each graduate student listed in the proposal and describe their intellectual contributions to the project. Graduate Student Research Assistant rates will vary among institutions. Please list the RA rate for each institution from which a graduate assistant will be included, calculating the budget accordingly.

Travel: When itemizing travel expenses, please be sure to use your university travel guidelines to establish allowable per diem rates. If these allowable rates differ among the institutions represented among the application participants, please use the guidelines allowed by each participant's institution. Please also use university travel guidelines for selecting transportation fares, being sure to take advantage of university contracts that may exist for special rates with car rental companies, hotels, etc.

Food and Catering: Food and catering costs are must constitute no more than 3% of the total budget, and must be called-out and broken-down in the budget narrative in a detailed manner which indicates your home institution’s upper spending per meal and an estimate of the number of attendees. A robust justification must be provided for the inclusion of these expenses.

IT Assistance and Web-Design support: Please indicate the basis for establishing the price for these services.

Back to top

How many awards will be given out in each round of the Global Midwest funding competitions?

There is no predetermined number of awards.

Back to top

Is there a range for budgets for the HWW Grand Research Challenges?

“The Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate” funding initiative will disburse up to $1.5 million in three annual funding cycles. We strongly encourage scholarly teams to think expansively in budgetary terms, and to consider the costs of collaboration across the life of the grant and of public dissemination as they develop their budgets. We welcome proposals with budgets of $100,000, and remind scholars that this amount should not include the amounts (up to $42,000) allocated to support graduate student stipends (i.e., total budgets may equal up to $142,000, including graduate student stipend funding).

Back to top

Who will determine which HWW Grand Research Challenge proposals receive funding?

The determination of which HWW Grand Research Challenge proposals to fund will be made by a team of external reviewers comprising humanities scholars of repute. We seek to protect the integrity of the review process by keeping their identities confidential. This is in line with the best practices of the NEH, NEA and other agencies who provide humanities funding on a competitive basis. Reviewer information is never made public, because applicants should not be able to contact reviewers either before or after the decisions have been made.

Back to top

How will HWW Grand Research Challenge funds be disbursed after being awarded?

After the HWW Grand Research Challenge funding decisions are made, HWW will send an award letter to the project leader which will describe in detail the specific requirements of invoicing, reporting, deadlines, etc. Awarded funds will be held at the University of Illinois and will be disbursed to the project leader university after HWW has been invoiced for expenses incurred against the funds. (Similarly, the project leader university will issue subawards to all collaborating university partners, with similar invoicing.) The project leader and project coordinator(s) will want to check with their home institutions (e.g., Office of Sponsored Programs, etc.) to ascertain their institution’s policies for administering these funds in order to ensure compliance with any rules and best practices. Project leaders and coordinator(s) will also want to communicate with their department business managers to establish “anticipation accounts” from which they can incur project costs while awaiting reimbursement of project invoices.

Back to top

If our team receives HWW Grand Research Challenge funding, who should manage the funds? What if our team has co-PIs? What if these co-PIs are from different universities?

This is a good question. Because of the complexity of Humanities without Walls collaborative research, and the consequently complex responsibility of the PI, we have determined that it makes the most sense to have only one PI per proposal, which we refer to as the “project leader.” The requested funds will be issued to the project leader university as a subaward and should be managed by the project leader in consultation with their business office, Sponsored Program office, and Humanities Center. Funds from this overall subaward will in turn flow down to collaborators via subawards issued by the project leader university. Each of these collaborating universities should also have a single point of contact and administration, which we refer to as the “project coordinator,” who will be responsible for overseeing all funds awarded to their university.   

Back to top

Are there any restrictions on which university a team should use as the “project leader university” (i.e., the administrative home) for its proposal?

We have no preference on this aspect of the application process. Please use whichever university makes the most sense for your project, which will probably be the university receiving the largest proportion of the awarded funds. The choice of administrative home university will have no bearing on the outcome of proposal selection.

Back to top

When submitting reports on HWW funding expenditures, what sort of information should be provided by the project leader?

In preparing the midterm and final reports for Humanities Without Walls, project leaders or their delegates should include narratives explaining any budget amounts or items whose intent, purpose, or benefit to the project is unclear or ambiguous. This narrative should be included as an attachment to the budget only if there are expenses whose purposes or relevance to the proposed research is not self-evident. You should not include this budget narrative in the proposal narrative, which has a restricted word length. It is our hope that the reporting process will be simplified and streamlined by including all information that clarifies potentially unclear expenses when initially submitting reports.

Back to top

We have collaborators from another HWW consortial institution. Can we also have corporate collaborators (e.g., Google)? Can we collaborate with partners from non-Midwestern universities? Can the grant pay for stipends or honoraria for non-university community partners who will be assisting in the project design, management, and daily work of the research project?

The key issue here is that Mellon funds cannot be shared with or awarded to research partners and/or collaborators who are not based at a HWW consortial institution. You are free to name collaborators from non-HWW universities (in the Midwest and otherwise) and/or corporations and to propose working with them, but those partners absolutely cannot receive any of the HWW Mellon funds (e.g., no subawards, no transferring of funds from your institution to these other partners, etc.).

So, as a general principle, the grant funds are to be used exclusively by consortial partners, but there will surely be many instances where consortial partners must pay honoraria or other types of fees to people who are NOT connected to partner institutions. In those cases, it makes no sense to force our partners to avoid working with non-consortial associates, particularly in light of the creative, collaborative nature of the grant.

Back to top

We have a few collaborators/partners on our project who are not based at consortium institutions. How should we list them on our application? Are they participants? Is it better to describe them as consultants or by some other category, to distinguish clearly between consortium participants and non-consortium participants? I understand that they cannot be funded under the terms of this grant.

You will need to distinguish clearly between “non-consortial partners” and “service providers” in your proposal, and between “fund-sharing” with non-consortial institutions/collaborators/partners and “contracting for services” (e.g., booking a venue, paying an honorarium to a non-consortial speaker, hiring a film director, etc.—all activities that common sense would indicate are allowed by the terms of the grant, because these entities are not research “partners” but “service providers”). The terms of the grant explicitly disallow fund-sharing with non-consortial partners (i.e., members of the research team from non-consortial institutions), but allow common sense expenditures on service contracts and providers. “Service providers” are allowable under the terms of our grant, as long as the proposal represents their services unmistakably as work performed for a specific fee.

We urge you to contact your institution’s Grants & Contracts Office (or the equivalent) to ensure that your expenses are allowable from their perspective. We are relying to a large extent on our consortial partners’ G&C offices for guidance in situations like this.

Back to top

Can a faculty member be involved in more than one proposed project? Can a research center be involved in more than one proposed project? Perhaps the lead on one and a supporting institution for another? Are there any limits? 

We advise scholars to put their efforts into one extremely well-crafted proposal, rather than extending themselves over more than one, but that would be advice rather than a rule. We are not placing any restrictions on faculty/research center involvement and are not imposing any limits, apart from common sense (i.e., avoiding overextension on the part of a researcher and/or center). Excellence of proposed research will be the primary criteria for determining which proposals to fund but we suspect our reviewers will quite naturally seek to spread the awards around in a manner that allows maximum participation throughout the consortium. They might look askance at making multiple awards to the same scholar, even if that person is assuming different roles on different projects. The key issue is the reasonableness of having scholars involved in multiple projects since overextension can swamp a project rather rapidly.

Back to top

Can the proposal narrative required as part of the HWW Grand Research Challenge application include visual support materials such as 3D models and/or video clips? Can the application packet include other supporting materials such as a brief technical précis or letter of support from collaborators?

It is best not to include anything in the application packet that is not required (e.g., letters of support), but supporting materials may be included in the application narrative if they assist in explaining the objectives of the proposed project. Because the HWW Grand Research Challenge funding application must consist of a single PDF file, all supporting materials need to be incorporated into this file.

Back to top

Pre-doctoral Summer Fellowships Information

Current Fellows

How should recipients of pre-doctoral fellowships list the Fellowship on their curricula vitae?

Please list this fellowship on your curriculum vitae as:

Fellow, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Humanities Without Walls Pre-Doctoral Summer Workshop

Back to top

What do the accommodations at DeWitt Place include? Are they single occupancy rooms?

The accommodations at DeWitt Place are all fully furnished, private apartments with queen-size beds, sleeper sofas, eat-in kitchens, and wireless, high-speed internet access. More information on the lodgings may be found at the DeWitt website.

Back to top

What are the check-in and check-out dates at DeWitt Place (for summer 2016 Predoctoral Fellows who have requested housing)?

The check-in date for DeWitt Place is Saturday, July 16, 2016, and the check-out date is Saturday, August 6, 2016. If you check-in on Sunday, July 17, you may need to indicate that you are on the “Saturday list” so they can find your name and information more readily.

Back to top

How will stipends be disbursed?

Each campus in the Humanities Without Walls consortium has different policies in place regarding how and in what fashion they disburse the funds we are calling “stipends,” and so there is no single answer to this question. We recommend that you speak with your Humanities Center director (listed on the HWW website) to ascertain precisely how your campus intends to pay out the funds. We have requested that all campuses in the consortium pay out the funds in May/June 2016, so that they are available for you to use for travel expenses, meals, etc., during the summer workshop.

Back to top


Future Applicants

The National Call for the 2017 Alternative Academic Career Summer Workshop is now available.

Am I eligible to apply for the “Alt-Ac” Career Summer Workshop if my university is not part of the HWW consortium?

You would indeed be eligible because the 2017 and 2019 summer workshops are open to a national audience, beyond the 15 universities comprising HWW consortium.

Back to top

May students in disciplines that employ both humanistic and social scientific approaches (e.g., sociology, and perhaps even political science) apply for this opportunity?

Doctoral students in social sciences, who use humanistic methods or who focus on humanistic subjects of research, are suitable applicants for the pre-doc workshops.

Back to top

May international doctoral students at educational institutions in the United States apply for and participate in the Pre-Doctoral Summer Fellowships?

Absolutely. There is nothing in the grant which precludes international doctoral students at educational institutions in the United States from applying for the pre-doctoral workshops.

Back to top

The Call for Applications indicates that one letter of recommendation “should be from the applicant’s primary adviser/dissertation chair.” Does the second letter of recommendation also have to be from my home university, or can it be from an outside mentor who can speak to present non-academic engagements?

Having the second recommendation letter come from a reference outside your home university is a definitely acceptable, particularly given the nature of the workshop, so long as the outside recommender self-identifies and gives us a way to reach him/her if necessary (preferably via email).

Back to top

Can I send additional updates to my CV or other application materials after my application has been submitted?

No. Application materials may only be submitted once. Please ensure that you submit the most up-to-date and accurate information.

Back to top

When will I hear if I have been awarded the fellowship?

Fellowship awards will be announced by February 2017 at the latest.

Back to top