F.A.Q.

General Information

Global Midwest Information

Pre-doctoral Summer Fellowships Information

General Information

Q.     What universities belong to the Humanities Without Walls Consortium?

A.      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.

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Q.     How does Humanities Without Walls define the “humanities”?

A.      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.”

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Q.     How should recipients of grant funds list the HWW Global Midwest Initiative on publicity materials?

A.      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 logos at our resources page.

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Q.     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 Consortium’s initiatives?

A.      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.  

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Q.     Are university library staff and/or graduate students eligible to participate in the HWW initiatives?

A.      Library faculty are eligible to apply/participate on teams, and we also welcome graduate students to participate as part of research teams. Graduate students can only be funded if they are involved as research partners on a project; teaching assistantships may not be funded.

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Global Midwest Information

If you plan to submit a Global Midwest research proposal, please contact your Humanities Center Director (see member institution contacts here) to determine your university’s policies, if any, regarding proposals for external support. You should contact your center director no later than ten business days before the research proposal submission deadline. (You may also need to inform your department chair and/or college dean.) Then review the questions and answers below to verify that your proposal meets all grant-specific guidelines.

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.

We are happy to assist in proposal development and actively encourage investigators to contact our office when developing Global Midwest proposals.

Q.     Does Humanities Without Walls deal only with the Midwest? Or does it seek to bring together scholars from the Midwesterner partner institutions to engage international issues?

A.   The Humanities Without Walls initiatives are focused on the grand research challenge of “the Global Midwest.” More information on that theme may be found at on the Global Midwest page, under Initiatives. HWW most definitely encourages collaborative research into international issues, insofar as the research relates to the American Midwest region, broadly understood. There are currently no preconceptions about how to best interpret the concept of the Global Midwest, and HWW especially welcomes ideas for new forms of scholarly collaboration and public engagement around this theme.

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

A.   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 “Global Midwest” however you choose to define that.

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Q.     Are emeritus faculty eligible to participate in the Global Midwest research? Are they able to apply for funding or act as sub-PIs?

A.      Active emeritus faculty are not excluded from working as participants in the Global Midwest research funded by Mellon as long as their affiliated institution has a mechanism in place to spend the funds.

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Q.     Are there any grant-specific guidelines related to the expenditure of funds allocated as part of the Global Midwest Initiative?

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

Allowable Expenditures
Summer salaries are allowable, as are proposals for co-teaching across institutional boundaries. Graduate assistant (GA) stipends are allowable, but not tuition remission; clear and compelling arguments for grant funding of GAs, along with precise duties for funded GAs, must be explicitly detailed in the project proposal. 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.

Prohibited Expenditures
Course buyouts, general computer purchases, tuition & fee remits for graduate students, and postdoctoral fellowships are not allowable. 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 Global Midwest Initiative. Grant recipients must also follow and adhere to their home institutions’ policies for allowable expenditures.

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Q.    Do we need to include the CVs of graduate students mentioned in our proposal or just those of their advisors, who are part of the larger collaboration?

A.      If you are seeking funds for the graduate students who will be part of your research project, you should include their CVs in the application packet.

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

A.      There is no predetermined number of awards.

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Q.     Is there a range for budgets for Global Midwest research proposals?

A.      The Global Midwest funding initiative will disburse up to $1.5 million in two annual funding cycles of $750,000 each. There is no minimum proposal budget, but the maximum award size has been capped at $100,000.

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Q.     Who will determine which Global Midwest proposals receive funding?

A.      The determination of which Global Midwest research proposals to fund will be made by a three-member 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.

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Q.     How will Global Midwest funds be disbursed after being awarded?

A.      After the Global Midwest funding decisions are made, HWW will send an award letter to the PI (or “senior co-PI,” as described below) 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 research teams after we have been invoiced for expenses incurred against the funds. The PI or “senior co-PI” will want to check with their home institution (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.

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Q.     If our team receives Global Midwest funding, who should manage the funds? What if our team has co-PIs? What if these co-PIs are from different universities?

A.      PIs will administer the funds in consultation with their Humanities Center director (listed here) and Sponsored Programs office or equivalent. Keeping day-to-day administration of the subaward in the hands of those most immediately involved in the workings of the proposed research makes sense and is the most common way of handling grant administration. (Each Humanities center will need to be involved in the administration of the funds, but each center will determine its level of involvement locally, at least initially.)

In the case of co-PIs, research teams will need to determine which co-PI will have ultimately responsibility for administering the subaward funds, and designate that person as “senior co-PI,” or something similar, on all application materials.

If the co-PIs are from two or more different universities, the home university for the “senior co-PI” should be designated as the “project leader university” on the cover sheet and in the application materials.

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Q.     Are there any restrictions on which university a team should use as the “administrative home” or “project leader university” for its proposal?

A.      We have no preference on this aspect of the application process (except in the case of co-PIs, as noted above). 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. As noted above, for proposals with co-PIs, use the home university for the “senior co-PI” as the project leader university/administrative home for the proposal.

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Q.     When submitting reports on Global Midwest funding expenditures, what sort of information should be provided by the PI?

A.      In preparing the Global Midwest reports for Humanities Without Walls, PIs 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 form 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. 

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Q.     We plan to use seed grant funding to have a “mini-conference” where our working groups will meet with collaborators to discuss their proposed projects. Hosting, defined as providing food to faculty, staff, and/or external visitors either through a caterer or at a restaurant, is included in the budgets. Is this an allowable expense?

A.      This is a good and legitimate use of the seed funds. A number of our consortium members have used their Global Midwest seed funding to host mini-workshops with the intention of helping faculty formulate their proposals for the October 30th deadline. It is natural that participants at such an event will require meals and refreshments. We ask that these expenses be kept to a minimal, reasonable level so that the bulk of the funds can be used for research/scholarly purposes. You will also need to provide documentation of the number of attendees and their institutional affiliations, for transparency.

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Q.     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?

A.      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.

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Q.     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.

A.      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.

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Q.     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? 

A.      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.

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Q.     Can the proposal narrative required as part of the Global Midwest 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?

A.      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 Global Midwest funding application must consist of a single PDF file, all supporting materials need to be incorporated into this file.

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Q.     The Application Cover Sheet provides a limited number of spaces for participant names, email addresses, and institutional affiliations. What if we have more participants than there are spaces on the cover sheet?

A.      We suggest appending a second sheet to the cover sheet, listing the additional participant’s names, email addresses, and home universities. This second sheet can be merged into the cover sheet using Adobe Professional or may be included (clearly labeled as “cover sheet addendum” or something similar) in the larger PDF application submission.

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Pre-doctoral Summer Fellowships Information

Q.     What is the application process for the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship?

A.      Applicants should request two letters of recommendation (one from the applicant’s primary advisor/dissertation chair) which should emphasize the applicant’s fit for the fellowship/workshop; these letters should be received by the applicant’s HWW center by the submission deadline (November 1st, 2014). These letters should be addressed to the Predoctoral Summer Workshop Steering Committee.

Applicants should prepare and submit the rest of the required application materials to their respective HWW centers by the submission deadline (November 1st, 2014). Center directors will nominate four finalists from the applications they receive and submit them to HWW via online portal by December 1st, 2014. The Pre-Doctoral Selection Committee will review these nominations and select two recipients from each HWW-affiliated institution.

Note: Doctoral students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign should submit their application materials, and have both letters of recommendation sent, to project manager Jason Mierek (hww-manager@mx.uillinois.edu).

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

A.      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.

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Q.     May international doctoral students apply for and participate in the Pre-Doctoral Summer Fellowships?

A.      Absolutely. There is nothing in the grant which precludes international doctoral students from applying for the pre-doctoral workshops.

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

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

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

A.      Fellowship awards will be announced on or around January 30, 2015.

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