National Endowment for the Humanities: Humanities in the Public Square
The Humanities in the Public Square program supports scholarly forums, public discussions, and educational resources related to the themes of a new National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) initiative, The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square. Designed to demonstrate the vital role that humanities ideas can play in our civic life, the Humanities in the Public Square program invites projects that draw on humanities scholarship to engage the public in understanding some of today’s most challenging issues and pressing concerns. As NEH launches a year-long celebration of its fiftieth anniversary in September 2015, the Common Good initiative seeks to demonstrate the vital role that the humanities can play in our public life. NEH’s enabling legislation speaks eloquently of the need to attend to “the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.” Today, as our country grapples with both remarkable opportunities and extraordinary challenges, the “conditions of our national life” suggest that this need is greater than ever.
The Common Good initiative envisions humanities scholars and organizations turning their attention and expertise to topics that have widespread resonance with the American people and that lend themselves to humanistic methods and concerns. Organizations are encouraged to think creatively about what discussion topics would be meaningful to their community. Example questions and topics are available on NEH’s website.
The Humanities in the Public Square program, a key part of the Common Good initiative, welcomes projects addressing a significant humanities theme that is important to a particular community, region, or state. The theme may be based on one of the questions above or it may address another significant public issue that is informed by the humanities in ways that will appeal to public audiences and concerns. The project should consist of:
- a public forum that engages scholars and humanities practitioners in discussion with a public audience about a theme
- subsequent public programs that would use creative formats to engage audiences in reflection on and discussion of a humanities theme for an extended period of time
- educational resources that disseminate materials for ongoing use by teachers, students, and/or lifelong learners
Applicants are strongly encouraged to forge partnerships with other institutions as appropriate (especially state humanities councils), to ensure that the scholarly, public programming, and educational elements are all well conceived and realized.
Amount: Awards can be up to $300,000. The requested amount should reflect the project’s complexity, number of venues, estimated number of participants, and partnerships. Applications requesting $150,000 or more should aim to implement ambitious projects with a broad geographic reach and the potential to engage large audiences through extensive collaboration or a large number of venues. NEH strongly encourages smaller projects focused on local communities and smaller audiences.
Eligibility: Any U.S. nonprofit organization with IRS tax-exempt status, state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Indian tribal governments.
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