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Undergraduate Humanities Fellows Program

Cutting edge undergraduate research can be done both in and outside the science lab. Students interested in the humanities fields—history, culture, rhetoric, philosophy, classics, religious studies, literatures, and the arts—can pursue their own projects through the Undergraduate Humanities Fellows Program, a selective, interdisciplinary group of undergraduates working on scholarly projects that explore the varieties and characteristics of human experience.

The possibilities for humanities research are vast. For instance,

  • Students interested in a particular time or place from the past could research how combat worked in the medieval world or the literature of the Harlem Renaissance.
  • Students curious about how different cultures are reflected in film could explore American detective films from the 1970s or East Asian action cinema.
  • Students interested in religions and cultures from across the globe might consider how Buddhism is practiced in different cultures or study another culture’s views about the United States.
  • Students curious about how technology is influencing contemporary life might study the ways Twitter revolutionized social and political protests or the ethical implications of cutting-edge technologies.

In the end, the possibilities for study are limited only by a student's imagination.

What is the Undergraduate Humanities Fellows Program?

The Undergraduate Humanities Fellows program combines a summer of paid research guided by a faculty mentor with an interdisciplinary seminar for course credit the following fall. Students with wide-ranging interests will develop their research and explore its broader implications both inside and outside the classroom.

Students will:

  • Work one-on-one with a faculty mentor over the summer on a paid summer research fellowship;
  • Develop their research in a close-knit, collaborative seminar that will expose them to the range and depth of humanistic inquiry
  • Connect their specific research interests to broader concerns through a trip to New York City where students will learn how humanities research informs our contemporary world;
  • Build skills crucial for today’s careers, including conceptualizing long-term projects, analyzing texts and data creatively, working collaboratively with one’s peers, and thinking in complex, big-picture ways;
  • Complete a sustained research project and apply to present and publish that scholarship.
How does the program work?

Interested students will apply for funding through the UR Summer Fellowships program, completing both the URSF Common Application and the Individual Arts and Sciences Summer Research Fellowship application. Please indicate your desire to be considered for the Undergraduate Humanities Program in the body of your proposal. For detailed instructions on how to apply, please visit the UR Summer Fellowships website

Important: If you are absolutely unable to meet the Feb. 6, noon deadline of Individual or Team A&S Summer Research Fellowship application there are other possible funding options through UR Summer fellowships. Please contact directly Dr. Abigail Cheever, or Dr. Erica Damer about this possibility.

What takes place in the classroom?

Fellows will discuss and dissect ideas both big (e.g. What is love? How does power work? What does it mean to be human in the digital age?), and small (e.g. How do I develop my argument on p.5?). In a collaborative and collegial seminar led by dedicated faculty, Fellows will read classic and cutting-edge work in the humanities, improve their research and writing, and reflect on the role humanities play on our campus and in our culture.

What takes place outside of the classroom?

Fellows explore the humanities in action through visits to places like The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), The New York Public Library, the Museum of the Moving Image (NYC), the Paley Center for Media (NYC), and Agecroft Hall and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, VA).

Who can apply?

Applications are welcome from students who are rising sophomores, juniors, or seniors.

Admitted students may be able to get major or minor credit for the fall 2017 seminar, IDST 397, and should speak with their department chairs to determine whether the course will be eligible.

How to apply

First, students need to develop a project with a faculty mentor. Students often find ideas in FYS, a General Education course, or a course in their major or minor that they'd like to pursue in greater depth. Or they find they'd like to work with a specific faculty member to think through a problem. The seminar leaders recommend that students meet with their faculty mentor to develop ideas and prepare an application for a paid summer research fellowship.

For information about the undergraduate summer research fellowship program go to the UR Summer Fellowships website.

Interested students should indicate in the body of their proposal that they would like to be considered for the UHS. Contact Dr. Abigail Cheever, or Dr. Erica Damer with questions or concerns.

What are the humanities?

Literary scholar Helen Small defines the humanities broadly as “the meaning-making practices of human culture, past and present.”

The humanities are practiced in many disciplines and departments including:

Art and Art History
Classical Studies
Latin American, Latino and Iberian Studies
Modern Literatures and Cultures
Political Science
Rhetoric and Communication Studies
Religious Studies
Sociology and Anthropology
Theater and Dance
and many interdisciplinary programs.


Questions about the Undergraduate Humanities Fellows Program can be directed to Dr. Abigail Cheever, or Dr. Erica Damer.

Student Stories

Read more about humanities fellow Hannah Maddy's research looking for poetry in the ruins of ancient Pompeii.

Read more about humanities fellow Victoria Charles' work constructing a historical narrative of the black student experience at the University of Richmond.