Humanities Without Walls Consortium

The Humanities Without Walls consortium links the humanities centers at 16 research universities throughout the Midwest and beyond.

Visit the Humanities Without Walls website

In 2020, the Mellon Foundation awarded a $5 million grant renewal to the University of Illinois to fund an additional five years of the Humanities Without Walls (HWW) consortium. By leveraging the strengths of multiple distinctive campuses, the consortium, aims to create new avenues for collaborative research, teaching, and the production of scholarship in the humanities, forging and sustaining areas of inquiry that cannot be created or maintained without cross-institutional cooperation.

The HWW consortium, led by HRI Director and Principal Investigator Antoinette Burton, makes possible two initiatives: (1) summer workshops for pre-doctoral students in the humanities who desire to explore careers outside the academy and (2) funding for cross-institutional teams of faculty and graduate students pursuing research that focuses on a grand challenge.

The consortium includes 13 of the institutions that belong to the Big Ten Alliance—Indiana University, newest partner Marquette University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, as well as the universities of Chicago, Illinois at Chicago, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin-Madison—plus the University of Notre Dame. The consortium was initially funded in 2014 with a $3 million grant from the Mellon Foundation and was renewed in 2016 with an additional $4.2 million.

The 21st century presents a clear and pressing need to mobilize the collective resources of the heartland’s institutions of higher education in collaborative ways. This consortium of humanities centers will together advance innovative and experimental research and pedagogical practices by sharing unevenly distributed resources across institutional walls, and by testing new ideas at scale. Humanities centers can best undertake this work because they are already sites of innovation on university campuses, generating ideas and stimulating new knowledge through the cultivation and funding of major initiatives.

The Humanities Without Walls consortium is the first of its kind to experiment at this large scale with cross-institutional collaboration.

Learn more about the Humanities Without Walls consortium on the HWW website