Graduate Exchange Program
How to Apply and FAQs

How to Apply and FAQs

The Graduate Public Humanities Exchange (HEX) program of the Center for the Humanities is a long-running and dynamic program that funds innovative public humanities projects by forging partnerships between community organizations and graduate students. Each HEX Project acts as an eclectic mini-nonprofit, building a partnership with a community group that reflects both the partner’s existing needs and graduate students’ research, interests, and expertise. Along with those partnerships, the HEX Program also fosters a strong cohort amongst scholars by holding monthly workshops and conversations, where students often address both the exciting developments and the difficult tensions that can arise from projects that are both public and academic.

Projects are funded on a one-to-two semester basis, depending on the nature of the work. One-semester projects will receive $1250 in funding; two-semester projects will receive $2000. Each project follows three main stages: planning, implementation, and capstone. We highly encourage scholars to take the semester after receiving an Exchange award to plan and develop a relationship with your community partner, although there are always applicants with pre-existing relationships that can facilitate and faster implementation period.

The application committee looks for students who are creative, flexible, and willing to engage in extensive collaboration and consultation with both the Center’s staff and their community partner. Projects are considered on the basis of the centrality of their humanities component, potential impact for and engagement with community participants, logistical planning and feasibility, and the creativity of the project. Our hope is always that graduate students gain a new understanding of their own research and the university itself by situating it within different context and translating it for unexpected audiences.

If you are considering applying to the program, you should strongly consider scheduling an appointment with Craig Eley, who can help guide you through the application process and recommend potential partners that are best matched for your ideas. You can also consult the current and past project descriptions on this site, which are great examples of the public humanities at work.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1) When is the application deadline?

The application period for the 2017-18 Public Humanites Exchange (HEX) Program is open through Friday, May 5, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. The application is available as both a Word and PDF document. However you choose to work on the application, you should compile all materials into a single PDF document and email it to applications@humanities.wisc.edu by the deadline.

2) Who can apply?

Graduate students from across campus are eligible to apply. You do not have to be enrolled in a humanities or arts program, but it may be useful to partner with someone in one of those departments in order to develop your proposal. Please consult with Craig Eley with any questions about this.

3) When will I find out about the decision?

Our committee will meet as soon as possible after the deadline to review applications. We hope to have results to everyone by the end of February.

4) How far along in my program do I need to be in order to apply?

There is no technical requirement for you to be an advanced student in order to apply. Typically, we do prioritize applicants that are beyond the coursework stage of their program due to the necessary time commitments of community and university collaborations.

M.A. students are also encouraged to apply!

5) How many hours a week should I plan to allocate to my project?

Most scholars spend about an hour a week in direct engagement with their participants. This excludes planning and preparation time, which should also be factored in to your schedule and can vary greatly across projects.

6) What if I haven’t decided who my community partner will be?

Most HEX Program applicants do not know who they will work with when they apply for funding. And we do not require you to identify or to have previously worked with a community partner. If you would like assistance in finding an organization, we encourage you to contact Craig Eley, who can refer you to one of the many partners we have worked with in the past.

Please do keep in mind that you will be asked to describe potential partners on the application, so you should be prepared to consider the logistical issues (transportation, security, computer access, etc.) that would arise from working with different organizations.

7) Where can I implement my project?

Most of the funding  for the Public Humanities Exchange is restricted for use in Dane County. Because there are countless local community organizations to work with, we can always help you find a suitable partner that will match your interests and project. Visit our list of past community partners here.

8) What is the expected timeline for projects?

Generally, we like for scholars to use the semester before they receive their awards to plan and organize their project. That semester will give you ample time to locate a partner, design a mutually beneficial outline, and be completely prepared for the implementation period. .

During your implementation semester(s), you'll meet with the Public Humanities Program Manager once a month. At the end of the implementation period, most scholars create a capstone project with their participants. Those capstones vary from project to project, but  always allow for graduate students and participants to reflect on the work they have done throughout the semester and its impact.

9) What does a "humanities based" project mean?

The Public Humanities Exchange is designed to promote new modes of engagement with and education about the humanities. So it is crucial to the success of your application that the humanities play a central role. This aspect of the application can be confusing for some, especially for students who are not in humanities programs, but reviewing the past and current projects on our website can help you.

In general, most HEX projects are built around a reading and writing (fiction or non-fiction) group, visual arts and graphic design, theatrical performances, filmmaking, etc. They vary widely, but all share a creative integration of traditional humanities and artistic work into new settings and contexts.