The ACLS Centennial Campaign: Campaign Priorities


Research fellowships are the principal means of supporting knowledge in the humanities and thus our first priority for increased investment. While ACLS has provided funding to over 350 scholars each year, we also must turn away over 3,000 excellent proposals from a wide range of disciplines and emerging approaches. To tap into this potential, we seek to raise funds both for immediate use and to create endowments to support fellowships in currently vibrant fields of study.


ACLS promotes the humanities in the public sphere and abroad. Our programs in sub- Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe are only our latest efforts to encourage and strengthen scholarly communities outside the U.S., work we plan to continue vigorously. Because the capabilities and knowledge developed in the advanced study of the humanities have demonstrated value beyond the classroom, we provide fellowships for humanities PhDs moving into government and nonprofit organizations. We encourage scholars to share the fruits of their research with multiple audiences, from the national media to their local communities. Public engagement on the part of scholars – including senior faculty – is not at odds with the conduct of basic research. Support for scholarly engagement with the pressing issues of our time serves the needs of society and invigorates the academy. Our goal is to raise current-use funds for these public dimensions of our work.


As our third priority, we aim to support more scholars from across the whole spectrum of American higher education. Professional development opportunities have been curtailed at all but a diminishing number of the best-resourced institutions, as budgets shrink and teaching responsibilities increase. A growing group of meritorious faculty, therefore, lacks the time and resources to create new knowledge, and an ever-larger population of students is left without the lifelong benefits of studying the humanities with dynamic teacher-scholars. Working with faculty and leaders at community colleges and other less well-resourced institutions, we are creating new programs that provide focused grants for travel or startup research, support opportunities to enhance collaboration and intellectual networking, and encourage innovative applications of research in the classroom. We seek to raise current-use funds to move this important priority forward.


Planning for a new century of service, ACLS is mindful of sustainability. The fourth priority of the campaign is to invest in building the organizational capacity of ACLS and, by extension, that of its scholarly societies. ACLS has built trust among a range of institutional and individual networks devoted to scholarship in the humanities. To forge connections between them and to develop and maintain programs that connect and serve them, ACLS needs to have the capacity to convene thought leaders, analyze challenges, raise funds, and carry out valued programs. This central capacity to enable the infrastructure for humanistic scholarship benefits from support beyond the transient funds associated with particular grants. We hope to raise current-use and endowment funds to accomplish this work.