Public Humanities Graduate Fellows Program

Read The Current‘s coverage of the Public Humanities Graduate Fellows Program launch here.

Preparing students for careers as dynamic, socially engaged humanists both within and beyond the academy

The public humanities are collaborations between scholars and communities that generate new knowledge and creative work to strengthen civic agency and cultural life. Through seminars, practical experience, and a capstone project, Public Humanities Graduate Fellows become conversant with the history, theories, and methods of public humanities. They gain insight into the social reach and relevance of their scholarship and learn how to be publicly engaged academics. Graduate Fellows will also have the opportunity to use their skills in a variety of social and professional environments, including museums and other cultural institutions, government, education administration, and nonprofit organizations.

About the program:

The program consists of three components: two seminars, a practicum, and a capstone presentation.

Seminars: “History and Theory of Public Humanities” and “Skills for the Public Sphere” address the history, theories, methods, and practice associated with public humanities. Fellows must complete both courses before beginning their practicum.

Practicum: Internships enable students to work with a community partner to address an identified organizational need. Community partners include cultural organizations and foundations, community centers, governmental offices, community colleges, and K-12 schools.

Capstone: Fellows will deliver a public presentation about their training, work, and identity as a public humanist.

UCSB Ph.D. students in good standing from the Divisions of Humanities and Fine Arts and Social Sciences are eligible to participate at any stage of their graduate studies.  For questions, contact Chris Bovbjerg.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When should I join the program?
A: The earlier the better, so that you can receive information and opportunities that are shared with fellows in the program. We encourage you to apply to the program before you are ready to complete the coursework. 

Q: What is the program application deadline?
A: The application deadline is rolling, but you need to be accepted into the program before you can enroll in the courses.

Q: Do the courses need to be taken in a certain order?
A: They can be taken in any order, but they both need to be completed before beginning the practicum.

Q: When is the deadline to apply for a fellow-designed community project?
A: The deadline is rolling, but your application will be developed in consultation with the IHC. Email Chris Bovbjerg if you are thinking of applying.

Q: I still have more questions about what participating in the program would look like for me. Whom should I contact?
A: Email Chris Bovbjerg with your questions or to schedule a meeting.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to do the following upon completion of the Public Humanities Graduate Fellows Program:

Core Knowledge

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the historical background, theories, and methods of public humanities
  • Demonstrate specialized knowledge in one or more areas of public humanities, such as administration, digital humanities, cultural programming, curriculum development, and curation
  • Situate their primary academic field of study within broader research and social contexts

Core Skills

  • Demonstrate the ability to use academic training in areas such as critical thinking and analysis, digital literacy, written and spoken communication, foreign languages, and research methods in community settings
  • Write and speak to diverse publics and institutional and civic stakeholders
  • Present compelling and legible accounts of public humanities issues, contexts, and experiences to academic audiences
  • Utilize the interactive social skills necessary for successful community collaboration
  • Demonstrate proficiency in skills valuable to public-facing projects, such as working with budgets, project management, website and database design and maintenance, and grant writing


  • Analyze and reflect upon publicly engaged experiences
  • Integrate public humanities training into their graduate experience and professional trajectory
  • Achieve increased awareness of and confidence in pursuing multiple career paths
  • Achieve an increased awareness of and confidence in pursuing publicly engaged academic teaching and research opportunities
  • Develop strategies for trouble-shooting challenges that arise when doing publicly engaged work
  • Expand their network of professional contacts
  • Understand and advocate for the value of the humanities in the public sphere