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Mellon/ACLS Scholars & Society Fellowships FAQ

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Updated July 17, 2018

Eligibility

Q: What kind of projects does this program fund? Are there some types of projects this fellowship program does not fund?

Q: What is publicly engaged scholarship? How do I learn more about the current landscape of public humanities work?

Q: May I apply to more than one ACLS fellowship or grant program in the same competition year?

Q: I have tenure at my institution and work with graduate students, but I am not appointed within a PhD-granting program or department. May I apply?

Q: Do I have to be a US citizen or permanent resident to be eligible for the Scholars & Society program?

Residency

Q: Where may I propose to take up residency?

Q: Must I propose to relocate for the fellowship?

Q: If I am awarded a Scholars & Society fellowship, is it possible to spend only part of the year in residence at my host organization?

Q: What kinds of proposed collaborations with the host site are eligible for this program?

Q: What does the statement of support from the host organization include?

Online fellowship application process

Q: May I edit an application submitted in a previous competition and resubmit it for this year?

Q: How long does it take to fill out the application?

Q: Do I have to complete the application all at once?

Q. What is the deadline for the Scholars & Society program?

Q: After submitting my proposal, I had an article/book accepted for publication. May new information be added to my publications list?

Q: How can I make sure I receive notification about my application or that I receive responses to queries using the “OFA Help” link within the online fellowship and grant application (OFA) portal? I can I make sure that my letter writers receive ACLS’s email?

Reference Letters

Q: Does ACLS accept reference letters from Interfolio or university-based dossier services?

Review process

Q: Who is reading my proposal?

Stipend

Q: If I receive this fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of my receiving the funds directly?

Q: If the award exceeds my normal academic-year salary, will the stipend amount be reduced?

Q: On what types of expenses may the funds for research, travel, and project costs be used?

Q: On what types of activities may the additional programming funds be used?


Eligibility


Q: What kind of projects does this program fund? Are there some types of projects this fellowship program does not fund?
A: The Mellon/ACLS Scholars & Society program supports major research projects in the humanities or humanistic social sciences that treat a significant issue or grand challenge in society—such as democratic governance; technological change; the legacy of racism and inequality; climate change; economic exclusion; or migration and immigration, to name but a few possibilities. In order for social science applications to be eligible, they must employ predominantly humanistic approaches and qualitative/interpretive methodologies. The Scholars & Society program requires fellows to conduct their research while in residence at a US-based cultural, media, policy, or community organization of their choice. The program funds projects at all stages of development, and would welcome applications that propose to deepen or expand existing research projects as well as those that propose new projects. While projects should be informed by present-day issues in the public sphere, they need not be contemporary in focus.

ACLS does not fund creative work or the performing arts (e.g., novels, films, performance, or musical composition), nor does this program fund textbooks or pedagogical projects, or work that deals purely with translation.

Q: What is publicly engaged scholarship? How do I learn more about the current landscape of public humanities work?
A: This program seeks to challenge distinctions often made between academic and nonacademic realms by affirming that the scholarly values that ACLS upholds, including analytical rigor, expressive precision, and incisive inquiry, have broad application and should flourish beyond the academy. Publicly engaged scholarship includes broader venues and means of publication for long-form scholarly works, as well as research projects that explore, and are inspired by, topics, methods, and forms of expression that have purchase both inside and outside of academic institutions.

As this program is informed by and articulates with the diverse set of programs promoting public scholarship in the humanities and the reinvention of doctoral study, applicants are encouraged to demonstrate familiarity with the important ongoing work on public engagement by scholarly societies, colleges and universities, interinstitutional consortia, and foundations. See e.g., the guidelines for evaluating scholarship issued by ACLS member societies like the American Anthropological Association and American Historical Association; the fellowship programs for humanities doctoral students at the University of California, Davis, the University of Washington, and New York Humanities; the community engagement work of the Humanities Action Lab; the Whiting Foundation’s Public Engagement Fellowships and Seed Grants; and the University of Iowa’s Humanities and Public Life Book Series. The National Humanities Alliance's Humanities for All database of publicly engaged humanities projects is a useful, comprehensive reference. Applicants may also benefit from reviewing Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competitions by Christina M. Gillis.

Q: May I apply to more than one ACLS fellowship or grant program in the same competition year?
A: Yes, an applicant for this fellowship may also apply to as many fellowship programs as are suitable. However, not more than one ACLS or ACLS-joint award may normally be accepted in any one competition year.

Q: I have tenure at my institution and work with graduate students, but I am not appointed within a PhD-granting program or department. May I apply?
A: The Mellon/ACLS Scholars & Society program aims to equip faculty engaged in teaching and advising doctoral students at their institutions with the skills and experience to support public scholarship and career diversity. Thus, we welcome applications from tenured faculty who are appointed in PhD-granting programs/departments, or are appointed as affiliated faculty to such programs. If you have further questions about whether your appointment status or program makes you eligible for this fellowship, please email us at fellowships@acls.org.

Q: Do I have to be a US citizen or permanent resident to be eligible for the Scholars & Society program?
A: No, but you must be employed in a tenured position in a PhD-granting department or program at a university in the United States and must remain so for the duration of the fellowship. Applicants must be tenured at the time of application.

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Residency


Q: Where may I propose to take up residency?
A: You may propose residency at any US-based cultural, policy, media, government, service, or community organization of your choice. Fellows need not relocate to take up a residency; the primary criterion for selecting a host site should be its suitability for advancing an applicant's project. Your application must include a signed statement of support from your chosen host organization that confirms that you will be provided with workspace, administrative support and other resources, and opportunities to participate in the organization’s work during the residency. If you have a question about the suitability of a potential host organization, please email us at fellowships@acls.org.

Q: Must I propose to relocate for the fellowship?
A: Applicants must commit themselves to being in residence at their chosen nonacademic host organization for the nine-month tenure of the fellowship, and thus to relocating for that period if necessary. Fellows need not relocate to take up a residency, however, and indeed research and residencies that foster partnerships between universities and organizations in their local or regional communities are welcome.

Q: If I am awarded a Scholars & Society Fellowship, is it possible to spend only part of the year in residence at my host organization?
A: No. You must be in residence at your chosen host organization for the entire nine-month duration of the fellowship. Part-time residencies and residencies of a shorter duration are not permitted.

Q: What kinds of proposed collaborations with the host site are eligible for this program?
A: The Scholars & Society program welcomes a range of approaches to collaboration with the host site. Ideally, an applicant’s proposed project will be developed in consultation with staff at the host organization, though this is not required. Some applicants may propose to work closely with the staff of the host organization to pursue research projects that advance a strategic goal of the host, e.g. conducting ethnographic interviews of members of an organization’s community to provide insights that improve its provision of services or programming. Other projects might draw on the expertise, methods, and perspectives of the host organization to add new dimensions to academic scholarly inquiry, e.g., working closely with the editorial team of a journalism organization to gain better understanding of the way narratives circulate in communities. These are merely a few possible approaches to collaboration. In all cases, applicants are encouraged to bear in mind that collaborations between fellows and host organizations should be well-considered and mutually beneficial.

Q: What does the statement of support from the host organization include?
A: The statement of support asks a designated representative of the host organization to confirm that the organization has agreed to host the applicant for the duration of the full nine-month fellowship term and that the applicant, if successful, will be provided with workspace, administrative support and other resources as appropriate, and opportunities to participate in the organization’s work during the fellowship period. The form also includes space for host organizations to provide a brief statement about the proposed collaboration.

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Online fellowship application process


Q: May I edit an application submitted in a previous competition and resubmit it for this year?
A: No, you will need to start over with a new online application.

Q: How long does it take to fill out the application?
A: This will vary, depending on how much work you have prepared before you begin the application process. Simply filling in the form will probably take an hour if not two, plus you will need to submit your proposal and supporting documents. You will also need to secure a letter from your proposed host organization in support of your residency and project. We highly recommend that you start the process several weeks before the deadline to get a sense of what is required and start preparing your materials.

Q: Do I have to complete the application all at once?
A: No, you may work on it in multiple sessions, though you will need to save your work after you finish each section of the application. Once you have submitted the application, you cannot work on it again.

Q. What is the deadline for the Scholars & Society program?
A. The deadline to submit completed applications for this fellowship is 9 pm, Eastern Daylight Time, October 24, 2018.

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Q: After submitting my proposal, I had an article/book accepted for publication. May new information be added to my publications list?
A: No, your application will be judged as it is at the time of submission.

Q: How can I make sure I receive notification about my application or that I receive responses to queries using the “OFA Help” link within the online fellowship and grant application (OFA) portal? I can I make sure that my letter writers receive ACLS’s email?
A: Notifications and other correspondence are sent via email from “acls.org” addresses. In order to prevent ACLS emails from being blocked, we suggest that applicants and letter writers:

  1. Add the relevant ACLS email addresses (e.g., ofahelp@acls.org, fellowships@acls.org, jpchristy@acls.org, and references@acls.org for letter writers) to their address book or safe senders list.
  2. Check spam or junk mail folder for notifications and correspondence, if you are expecting them.
  3. In the event that you continue not to receive ACLS emails in either your inbox or spam/junk folder, it may be that your institution (“.edu”) or internet service provider (“.com” or “.net” email) is blocking these emails before they reach you. Please contact the appropriate personnel, e.g., your IT department, so that they may resolve the issue.

Reference Letters

Q: Does ACLS accept reference letters from Interfolio or university-based dossier services?
A: No. ACLS requests that reference letters contain specific elements targeted to this fellowship program. Peer reviewers have expressed strong reservations about letters from dossier services since they are necessarily general and thus less helpful in assessing the merits of the proposed project. This information is particularly crucial for proposals that reach the final round of selection where they are evaluated by multi-disciplinary committees. ACLS understands the demands placed on senior scholars and has sought to moderate that burden by reducing both the required number and the length of reference letters to minimum essential levels.


Review process


Q: Who is reading my proposal?
A: Proposals to the Scholars & Society program are read by senior scholars from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who have track records of public engagement and involvement in their institutions’ humanities communities.


Stipend


Q: If I receive this fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of my receiving the funds directly?
A: The fellowship is awarded to an individual scholar. ACLS can arrange payment through the scholar’s institution upon request. However, institutions may not deduct funds for overhead or indirect costs from the individual's fellowship. For more information, review Information for Institutional Administrators.

Q: If the award exceeds my normal academic-year salary, will the stipend amount be reduced?
A: No, the portion of the stipend in excess of your salary may be used for any expenses related to advancing your scholarly project or facilitating your residency and optional relocation. However, please note that if you are combining the Scholars & Society Felloweship with funding from other sources, such as sabbatical pay, the cumulative total may not exceed your normal salary.

Q: On what types of expenses may the funds for research, travel, and project costs be used?
A: These funds may be used to cover additional expenses related to the fellow’s research project, including but not limited to: optional relocation costs; travel expenses (for research or for attending relevant scholarly conferences); research assistance; research materials (books, equipment, software/licensing fees, reproductions); archival access/permission; scholarly programming such as workshops or speaker series related to their projects, etc.; and expenses that allow fellows and host sites to build and deepen their partnerships during the fellowship year and beyond, such as support for outreach and communications or funds to compensate collaborators for their time and expenses.

Q: On what types of activities may the additional programming funds be used?
A: The Mellon/ACLS Scholars & Society program provides funds for on-campus and off-campus programming in the year following the fellowship. The programming, which may take a variety of forms, should draw on connections developed during the fellowship year and should be designed to foster greater understanding of the value of humanities scholarship and doctoral education beyond the academy. Fellows will have the opportunity to devise and refine ideas for programming at the fellowship’s required workshop in the spring of 2020.

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Related Links

For answers to questions not addressed here, please contact us at fellowships@acls.org.

For questions pertaining to technical support, please consult the FAQ in the online fellowship application (OFA).