Whiting Foundation Public Engagement Programs 2021-22

Sponsor Name: 
Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation
Description of the Award: 

The Whiting Foundation invites selected schools, scholarly societies, and other humanities institutions to nominate for the Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship and Seed Grant. These programs celebrate and empower early-career faculty who embrace public engagement as part of their scholarly vocation by funding ambitious, often collaborative projects to infuse into public life the richness and nuance that give the humanities their lasting value. Over time, we hope they will also help cultivate communities of practice in and beyond the academy; underscore just how essential history, philosophy, and the study of the arts are in helping us absorb the news of the day, participate as citizens, and live meaningful lives; and broaden understanding of the value of advanced work in the humanities.

Partner schools are invited to nominate one humanities professor for each of the two programs – a nominator may choose to participate in both programs or in only one. To be eligible for either program, nominees must be full- or part-time humanities faculty in both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.2 Faculty need not be on a tenure track to be eligible. Nominees must also be early-career: they should have received their doctorate between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2020. Eligible humanities fields and types of public-facing projects are described below.

The Public Engagement Fellowship of $50,000 is 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.

The Public Engagement Seed Grant of up to $10,000 supports 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, however, 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. We anticipate that 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.

Humanities fields: disciplines and subjects
Nominees’ public-facing projects and professional expertise should be squarely in the humanities. In this cycle, we are focusing on the following disciplines: history; the study of literature, visual art, music, and other arts; philosophy; and area studies combining these fields, like classics and African-American studies. (We distinguish interpretive humanities from creative arts, so choreographing a new dance piece would not be eligible but creating a film on the history of a choreographer’s work would be.)

Foundation Timeline:

Informational Webinars: Whiting Foundation staff will hold optional information sessions for nominators, nominees, and prospective nominees to answer questions about the application and selection process. Sessions will take place at 2pm Eastern Time on the first Wednesday of each month from February through June (February 3, March 3, April 7, May 5, June 2). Registration is online here.

  • Jun 1, 2021: Deadline for partner institutions to submit nominee name(s) to the Foundation so we can verify applicant status.
  • Jun 14, 2021: Deadline for nominees to complete the first-round application online.
  • Early Sep 2021: Applicants will be 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.
  • Nov 1, 2021: Deadline for final-round applications from finalists.
  • Mid-Feb. 2022: Finalists will be notified of the results.
  • May or Jun 2022: Grantees will meet for a two-day convening (dates and format TBC); if this can be held in person, the Foundation will cover travel costs, so applicants need not budget for it.
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Jun 01, 2021
OVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Interested applicants should upload the following documents in sequence in one PDF file (File name: Last name_Whiting_2021 no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

1. Cover Letter (1 page, pdf):

  • Descriptive title of proposed activity
  • PI name, departmental affiliations(s) and contact information
  • Collaborator names and departmental affiliation(s)
  • Participating institution(s)
  • Title of this funding opportunity

2. Project Description (no more than two pages, pdf) and identify the project scope that addresses the key aspects and elements, principal investigator, collaborators, and partner organizations.

3. 2-page CV's of Investigator

Formatting Guidelines:

Font/size: Times New Roman (12 pt.)
Document margins: 1.0” (top, bottom, left and right)
Standard paper size (8 ½” x 11)

The Office of Foundation Relations is available to consult on proposal narrative elements and answer other foundation-related questions. Applicants should please contact Sophie Penney, Ph.D., Director of Foundation Relations (swp2@psu.edu) for additional support.

To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
OVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - 4:00pm