Brown University's Humanities Initiative was launched in 2010 as a collaboration between the Cogut Institute for the Humanities and the Office of the President. A major and long-term investment in the humanities, the initiative brings to the center of the university's priorities the agendas of curation and innovation that have defined the Cogut Institute's core principles, programs, and goals since its inception in 2005. These include the productive tensions and strong dialogues between disciplinary and department-based scholarship on the one hand, and multi-disciplinary, problem based scholarship on the other; between the work of the humanities and the related work of the social and natural sciences; between the university and global civil society as participants in and analysts and ameliorators of human experience.
The Cogut Institute understands the work of curation as the combined concern with knowledge preservation and innovation. With the intellectual and financial partnership of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and other sources, both within and beyond the university, the Institute has provided resources to departments in the forms of postdoctoral appointments, visiting professorships, distinguished visiting scholar positions, graduate and undergraduate fellowships, and the definition and mounting of conferences, workshops, exhibitions, and performances as well as various options of collaborative research.
The Humanities Initiative generously expands and develops this core program. It defines six faculty positions at the distinguished chair level whose role and significance will combine high scholarly, teaching, and disciplinary distinction with a university-wide entrepreneurial role for and from the humanities. Professors Paul Guyer (Philosophy and the Cogut Institute for the Humanities), Leela Gandhi (John Hawkes Professor of Humanities and English), Andrew Laird (John Rowe Workman Distinguished Professor of Classics and Humanities), and Peter Szendy (Comparative Literature) have been recruited to Brown as Humanities Initiative Scholars. The Humanities Initiative also disburses significant programming funds for collaborative research.
Guidelines for nominations, applications for funding, and a list of previous awardees, may be found below.
Review and selection of proposals happen twice a year, with deadlines on April 1 and October 15.