ABOUT THE PROGRAM
In 2019, Hunter College received a substantial grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation to create advanced research opportunities for promising undergraduate students in the emerging field of public humanities. In 2022, the program was renewed for the next three academic years, as a program in public humanities and social justice. Each student cohort consists of approximately 25 students and for them the program lasts one academic year—from late August until late May. To complete the program, students must complete two separate parts: a research dimension (in which students work with a faculty mentor for the fall semester), and a public outreach dimension (in which students work with an established organization or cultural institution or create their own outreach project during the spring semester). The program is primarily intended for students who major or minor in a humanities discipline, or who are pursuing a certificate in a humanities discipline (see below for humanities departments and programs at Hunter).
We are looking for students who have demonstrated exceptional potential in their classes. All currently enrolled students who have earned over 60 credits at the time of application are eligible to apply; students must have earned at least 15 credits in Hunter classes. By the time they enroll, they must have earned 75 credits. The program is intended for students who will be registered in classes during the 2024-25 academic year. Students who will have graduated before May 2025 are not eligible to receive the grant.
Public humanities is an evolving interdisciplinary field and set of practices that draw on humanistic modes of inquiry to help address pressing concerns in the public sphere and open new avenues of civic engagement. Each grant project must have both a clearly identifiable academic dimension (a question of limited scope that can be reasonably addressed in a research or policy paper) and a public outreach dimension.
For public outreach, students pursue an internship and/or an independent public-facing project. Recent MPHSJ students have undertaken internships with museums, literary presses, unions, homeless shelters or advocacy organizations for those with disabilities. Some recent examples of independent public facing projects include hosting film screenings, arranging jazz concert or dance performances, and lecture series. Please consult our student projects page for details. All students work with a Graduate Student Fellow to design their outreach project and with dedicated Media Fellows to document their public outreach in media presentations (video, podcast, digital, website building, etc.).
The term “social justice” suggests a concern for equal rights, equal opportunity and equal treatment both under the law and in the social sphere more broadly. A social justice orientation in a research project or in public outreach involves seeking to better understand or ameliorate an area of inquiry or a social situation in which there are significant inequalities—in income; in access to education, employment or housing; in the quality of the environment; owing to social class, race, ethnicity, religious expression, sexual orientation, gender expression; immigration status. Not all public humanities scholars need to deal with this nexus of issues directly in their research project, but the student might, in their application, consider how their project might engage them in their public outreach. An interest in social justice does not necessarily mean that the issues explored need to be contemporary; historical approaches to social justice issues are welcome.
Students will be assigned individual faculty mentors and will meet and correspond regularly with them to discuss their projects. They will be able to present and share their research in public humanities symposia and outside conferences.
We evaluate students who would like to pursue honors theses and independent studies under the MPHSJ program on a case-by-case basis. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
Students who satisfactorily complete both the research essay and public outreach components will earn $4,000. There is also funding for supplies, equipment and materials related to outreach. Faculty mentors will also receive funding for working with students on their research.
Students’ intensive research and seminar participation might serve as a springboard for graduate studies (MA or PhD), or it might help pave the way for careers in the arts or in public affairs.
While it is expected that a majority of MPHSJ scholars will choose to apply to graduate school, it is not a precondition for applying for or accepting the award.