UT Humanities Center

Request for Research Seminar and Workshop Proposals

What is a research seminar?

Seminars require a core group of at least two core faculty members, who take primary responsibility for organizing the seminar, planning topics for discussion, inviting speakers from outside the university, and providing opportunities for UT faculty and graduate students to present work-in-progress. Seminars must meet regularly (at least five times per semester), and they should be open to all interested faculty and advanced graduate students, subject to appropriate limits of size. The core faculty members of the seminar are expected to present a substantial work-in-progress at least once each year. Other members of the seminar, including the advanced graduate students, may be invited to present work-in-progress. (Because of its limited budget, the Humanities Center is unable at this time to fund reading groups where the presentation of works-in-progress by members does not constitute an essential part of the group’s activities.) As in any other formal seminar, everyone, including core faculty, participating faculty, and graduate students, is expected to attend each session of the seminar. We encourage seminars to invite visitors to make additional presentations to a wider university audience. We also encourage seminars to mount a website that will serve to notify members of seminar events.

What are the core goals of the research seminars?

  • Support faculty research and scholarship
  • Increase faculty publication through presentation of works-in-progress
  • Explore issues across disciplinary or intellectual boundaries
  • Support collaborative research
  • Give graduate students an opportunity to participate in advanced scholarly discussions
  • Professionalize graduate students with an eye to employment upon degree completion

Who is eligible to form a seminar?

Tenure-track and tenured faculty members in the humanities and humanistically oriented social sciences may submit a proposal for a seminar to investigate a topic relating to shared research interests, as long as the proposal is in accord with the definitions and goals above.

Proposal requirements

  • A two-page vita of the core faculty members who have agreed to participate in the seminar. Core participants should be in residence during the academic year in which the seminar is in session.
  • A one-or two-page statement of the nature and significance of the problem or issue to which the seminar will be devoted. The description must explain how the proposed seminar will fulfill the aims of this program.
  • The names of other potential participants, both faculty and advanced graduate students.
  • The names and institutional affiliations of potential visiting speakers, with a brief description of the relevance of their current scholarship to the enterprise of the seminar.
  • A detailed budget.

Requirements to renew a seminar

All renewing seminars must submit the following additional materials:

  • A report of the seminar’s activities for the current year, including the titles of the papers that were presented at the seminar
  • A one-page statement addressing the relationship between the current year’s activities and those proposed for the following year
  • A copy of the most recent budget statement, and an explanation for any variations from the budget, including a statement regarding the expected expenditures for the remainder of the academic year
  • Some indication that the core members of the seminar agree to continue in the next year.
  • If a core participant decides to end association with the seminar, an appropriate replacement must be proposed.

Deadline for submission of proposals

The deadline for new proposals and renewals is July 1 of the current calendar year. Applications should be sent electronically to theff@utk.edu. The Humanities Center Committee, consisting of the department heads or their appointed representatives of the six core humanities departments, will announce their decision by July 15 of the current calendar year.

Criteria for awards

The following criteria, adapted from Stanford University’s Humanities Center, will be used in evaluating proposals:

  • Defines an area of intellectual inquiry that is compelling
  • Articulates important emerging issues and trends in humanities scholarship
  • Encourages UTK graduate students and faculty, as well as outside speakers, to present work-in-progress
  • Promotes graduate students’ professional development by encouraging networking with established scholars in the field, collaborative work with faculty, and presentation of work throughout the year
  • Promotes collaborative work with scholars outside UTK
  • Shows promise for material outcomes such as publications

Funding for Seminars

Funding for individual seminars is competitive and subject to the availability. Up to $5,000 per seminar may be approved for such expenses as travel and reasonable honoraria for invited speakers, photocopying of materials for circulation in advance of meetings, light refreshments, and other operating expenses. An additional $1,000 may be requested for a graduate student seminar participant to assist in the administration of the seminar. Honoraria for visiting speakers are limited to $150 for junior faculty and $300 for senior faculty. No more than $2,000 can be budgeted for book purchases. Any intention to exceed these limits should be accompanied by a clearly articulated rationale.

Administration of Funds

The department of the seminar coordinator is responsible for the financial administration of the program. As a courtesy, please let your department head know that you plan to propose a research seminar. Departments will be reimbursed for expenditures by the College office (Contact: Anna Carroll, 4-4380). Faculty coordinators are responsible for complying with all financial reimbursement and reporting requirements in accordance with University of Tennessee policies.

Further Information

Please address any questions about this call for proposals or the seminar program to Humanities Center, theff@utk.edu. For information on current seminars and to read an electronic copy of a previously successful proposal, CLICK HERE.



Contribute to a big idea. Give to the Humanities Center.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Big Orange. Big Ideas.

Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System