The Public Humanities Exchange for Undergraduates (HEX-U) is a high-impact program for undergraduate students at UW-Madison who wish to make meaningful connections between their humanities scholarship and the needs of the local community through new models of social engagement. The program provides training in community partnership, mentoring during project design and implementation, and project funding to small cohorts of undergraduate scholars as they plan and implement creative community projects in partnership with Dane County organizations.
Prospective applicants are encouraged to propose new, innovative ideas for engagement with the local community through a project. Projects may be focused on (but are not limited to) developing relationships and networks, cultivating and sharing perspectives, creating programs, and/or providing services. Projects might engage with or result in an artifact that serves as a "capstone" to the project process and to undergraduate study, such as blogs, websites, digital storytelling, zines, texts, curricula, anthologies, artwork, exhibitions, dramatic performances, biographies, memoirs, panels, parties, discussion series, podcasts, documentary films & photography, online video channels, guided tours, development of digital platforms, multimedia publication, oral history, and much more. All projects should be designed to benefit both the student(s) and community partner.
Each student or team of students receives a $600 stipend award. Additionally, we expect most projects to receive up to approximately $2,000 in funding, to be determined upon review of each project's proposed budget. Funds are disbursed upon completion of HEX-U program requirements.
- Meet with the HEX-U Coordinator prior to and throughout your project
- Attend a HEX-U orientation
- Attend bi-monthly HEX-U workshops throughout the duration of your project
- Propose and maintain a budget for up to approximately $2,000 in project funding, as needed/applicable
- Execute your project for its full duration
- Complete a reflection & evaluation process at the end of their project
See the HEX-U Scholar Portal (Handbook) for more details.
Any UW-Madison undergraduate student or team of students with a background in the humanities and an idea for a humanities-based community project are encouraged to apply. Seniors should have at least two semesters of study remaining before graduation.
Seek out inspiration and guidance from others. Helpful sources typically include:
- Current & Past HEX-U projects (below)
- Current & Past HEX projects
- Examples of public humanities projects hosted by other institutions
- Your professors, TAs, advisors, and peers
- What are you learning as an undergraduate student? Through humanities classes, research, and other scholarly activities (performance, artistic production, writing, critical dialogue, service, etc.)?
- What needs attention in the Madison community?
- How might your work in the humanities be of use in the community?
- How can the community play an integral role in your efforts? What kinds of community knowledges, skills, experiences, and resources could be helpful?
A great way to develop your project proposal is to discuss your ideas with the Program Coordinator, Jamila Siddiqui, prior to applying. Email Jamila to schedule a meeting, or drop in during our open HEX Lab hours (see below).
Look over the application summary for your reference. All applications must be submitted online via Qualtrics (see button below).
You will be able to share your ideas with us through various forms of media and/or text in the application, some of which will take time to develop. Don't delay! Start now, and consider utilizing campus resources such as The Writing Center and the Design Lab for assistance.
Applications for 2017-18 have closed. Fall 2018 deadlines will be announced in late summer.
Projects should begin a minimum of 6 weeks after the application deadline, preferably several months after the application deadline to allow enough time for planning and disbursement of money.
Mikayla Kelz is a first-year undergraduate student studying history with a certificate in criminal justice. She plans for a law career in the future. Mikayla has always been fascinated with the power of storytelling. Working at a nursing home in her hometown, it was a resident of the home who inspired her to share the stories of this forgotten population and to help them feel included. Previously, through a state-wide grant from the Coalition of Domestic Violence, Mikayla implemented a project at an assisted living home that included creating a garden and backyard makeover that residents could enjoy. Now, Mikayla's HEX-U project will use the power of social media, technology, and journalism to share stories of the past told by elders of the Madison community. By doing so, today's younger generation can make better informed decisions using historically-grounded advice.
Maryam is a senior majoring in International Studies and Political Science accompanied by a certificate in Southeast Asian Studies. She plans to obtain her Juris Doctorate to support her long-term goal of running small businesses and an international non-profit organization focused on community development for low-income and other underrepresented groups. In her HEX-U project, Maryam aims to provide younger generations of Americans with the insightful information presented in the PBS documentary, "Africa's Great Civilizations." She will integrate this documentary into an activity- and discussion-oriented after school program for middle school youth, helping to grow their awareness of African culture, African American history, and the complexities of citizenship amidst diverse cultures. The program will conclude with an interactive performance event by student participants for the local community.
Kate is a junior at UW-Madison who will be pursuing a major in either business or education, in addition to a certificate in classics. Her HEX-U project will continue the work of the Warrior Book Club, a former HEX project, at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. The club brings together students, veterans, and non-veterans once per month to read, compare, and contrast Classical Greek and Roman literature with their modern-day counterparts. Themes for this coming fall and spring include "camaraderie" and "the journey." By connecting groups of people who may not cross paths on a regular basis and using literature to deepen the conversation, the Warrior Book Club aims to create a more empathetic community of Madison citizens.
Mackenzie Berry is a second-year student from Louisville, Kentucky in the 10th Cohort of the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Program. She is studying English - Creative Writing with a Certificate in Afro-American Studies. She is a part of the First Wave Hip Hop Theatre Touring Ensemble, co-facilitates weekly writing workshops at the Goodman Community Center with the JVN Project, and remains involved in the nonprofit organization Young Poets of Louisville. Mackenzie's HEX-U project used the arts to address the health effects incarceration has on the communities it impacts. The project offered arts programming according to community needs and wants, as determined by community members in collaboration with Madison Organizing in Strength, Equality, and Solidarity (MOSES) and their Man Up Program. Check out the final performance, "Breaking Chains."
Yusi Liu is a fourth-year undergraduate student from Beijing, China, studying Classics and Art History. Yusi is the Director at Wisconsin Union Directorate Art Committee (WUD Art). She loves art, and does some photography and curation. In her spare time, Yusi loves traveling, hiking, and tea tasting. Alex Polach is a recent graduate in art history from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her studies were focused on Chinese art history and Mandarin. Alex was the Associate Director of Development at WUD Art. Despite a busy schedule, she can always find time for cooking and enjoying a walk on the frozen lake. Their project, titled “Art en Route,” calls for both literary and visual artists to create uniquely commissioned works of art that will be featured on the exterior bus wraps of various Madison Metro Transit buses. The artists are working in pairs and to collaboratively come up with a final work. Read more about this project in the Badger Herald, Tone Madison, the Isthmus. Yusi and Alex partner with the Arts & Literature Laboratory, Madison Community Discourse, and Madison Metro Transit to design and implement their project.
Amelia Stastney is a second-year undergraduate student from Mequon, Wisconsin, studying International Studies while also completing the Pre-Med track. Danielle Sklarew is a second-year student from Bethesda, Maryland double majoring in History and Communications. The pair were assigned randomly to be roommates for their freshman year and soon learned that they both shared a love for working with children as they have both spent many years working as counselors at overnight summer camps. Inspired by their desire to spread feminism and female empowerment to children, Amelia and Danielle’s HEX-U project titled, “Young Feminists Club,” was a weekly after-school program implemented in the fall of 2017. Weekly themes covered topics such as, “Women in Sports,” “Women in Science,” and “Women in Literature." Ameila and Danielle partnered with Blackhawk Middle School to implement their club in the Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) after-school program. Amelia and Danielle helped the children involved to celebrate women and all that women have achieved and will continue to achieve. Read about this program as it unfolded on their blog and in the Isthmus.
Stuart Deets is a junior studying History, Art History & English Literature. As an Eagle Scout, he loves teaching young kids about everything from nature to cooking safety, and has taught at the Tesomas Scout Camp for the past 5 summers. Through his work as a Chazen Ambassador, he has created innovative programming for students, such as dances and beach parties, to draw students into the museum. After graduation, he plans to go to graduate school to study Contemporary Art History. Stuart brought his experience with education into his HEX-U Project, “Bread, Salt, Wine & Art,” which took art created by a classroom of art students from Madison West High School and placed it in homes built by Habitat for Humanity of Dane County. All parties involved gained a better connection with "what is home?" Read more about it here.
McKenna is a third-year undergraduate student studying Communications and Political Science with plans to attend Law School upon graduation. As a former professional dancer, McKenna was invited to dance in summer intensive programs with Miami City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Ballet Chicago and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Now, after hanging up her pointe shoes, she strives to share her passion for dance through creative movement classes around the Madison area. Her program, entitled "Project Plié Wisconsin," aims to unite people, young and old, in a common love of dance while promoting art throughout the community. Her latest community collaboration, supported by HEX-U, was with The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. See her project in action here. When she's not dancing, you'll find her reading a good biography, traveling or windsurfing on Lake Mendota.
In addition to checking out current and past HEX-U projects (above) and HEX projects, consider learning about other public humanities projects outside of this institution for further inspiration on our Public Humanities Resources Page.
Have a project idea that doesn't quite fit with our public humanities mission, but still engages the community outside of the university, either local or global? Do you desire academic credit for your project? Consider the Wisconsin Idea Fellowship (WIF) from the Morgridge Center for Public Service.
Thinking about the value of the humanities for undergraduates? Check out the Study the Humanities Toolkit by the National Humanities Alliance.
Have an idea for a humanities-oriented project in the local community, and need some support & funding in a flash? Apply for HEX-U Flash Project funding!
Flash projects are typically smaller scale and/or have a shorter timeline than traditional HEX-U projects, but retain the same mission and spirit. Funds are available up to $250 per project. Recipients will also be able to utilize the HEX Lab and the HEX-U Coordinator for brief project mentoring.
Please note that it may take 1-2 weeks for applications to be reviewed, and 1-6 weeks for fund disbursement, to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Recipients of flash funding will be required to provide documentation of their project in the form of a digital narrative, such as photo essay, video clip, podcast, blog post, etc.
Flash Project Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. All UW-Madison undergraduate students are welcome to apply.
University Club 320
Our new laboratory for humanities thought, action, and collaboration is located in the University Club, Room 320. Stop by to find inspiration for your HEX-U project, brainstorm on the whiteboard wall, meet with your teammates, and talk with the HEX-U Coordinator about project ideas, the application process, and big questions such as...
- What are the humanities? The public humanities? What is a public humanities project? What are some examples of past public humanities projects?
- What are the needs of the local community and local organizations? How do you find out? How do you connect with a potential partner organization?
- What are the expectations for HEX-U scholars accepted into the program? What factors should you consider for a time management plan?
During the academic year, the lab is typically open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 2-4pm. Summer hours are by appointment only (contact the Program Coordinator). Please double-check the calendar below for changes and cancellations prior to arriving.
Can't make it to open lab hours? Just email the Program Coordinator to set up a time to meet that works for you.