The goal of the consortium is to leverage the strengths of multiple distinctive campuses and create new avenues for collaborative research, teaching, and the production of scholarship in the humanities, forging and sustaining areas of inquiry that cannot be created or maintained without cross-institutional cooperation. The grant, which builds on a two-year grant awarded in December 2013, will fund four years of scholarly collaboration through a consortium of fifteen humanities institutes in the Midwest and beyond.

The new Mellon grant, led by IPRH Director and Principal Investigator Antoinette Burton, will support the consortium’s two signature initiatives: summer workshops for pre-doctoral students in the humanities and cross-institutional, collaborative awards for “grand research challenges.” The renewal comes with exciting changes to these initiatives. The theme of the next Grand Research Challenge initiative will be “The Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate.” Interpreted narrowly, this theme calls for collaborative work on climate change, arguably the most pressing grand challenge of our time. Read more broadly, the potent metaphor of climate change offers humanists the opportunity to think about the meaning of all manner of “changing climates” — economic, religious, racial, digital, local or global, to name just a few.

The pre-doctoral workshops will continue to be organized by the Chicago Humanities Festival. They will alternate annually between offering places to pre-doctoral candidates from the consortium universities and accepting fellows from PhD programs outside of the consortium.

Full calls for applications and proposals for both these initiatives will be available by the end of April, 2016.

The Humanities Without Walls consortium includes Indiana University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, Purdue University; and the Universities of Chicago, Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Chicago, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Wisconsin-Madison. The Chicago Humanities Festival and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are also serving as key intellectual and infrastructural partners for the project.