ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowship

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New Opportunity from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS): Emerging Voices Fellowship for 2020-2021

The American Council of Learned Societies is pleased to announce the Emerging Voices Fellowship, a new program supporting early career scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.

At a time of economic downturn and uncertainty in academe, this program seeks to identify and assist a vanguard of scholars whose voices, perspectives, and broad visions will strengthen institutions of higher education and humanistic disciplines in the years to come.

The fellowship program is two-fold, with: (1) nominations of fellows to be chosen in an accelerated process; and (2) proposals from departments/programs to host a postdoctoral Emerging Voices Fellow, to be funded by the ACLS and the L&S Dean’s Office.

1) The Nominations of Emerging Voices Fellows, due June 5:

The Dean’s office is soliciting nominations for fellows from graduate program chairs (deadline June 5, to include CV and 2-page statement of research). Each graduate program chair will be asked to nominate two, ranked "new or recent Ph.D's" for the program, and the Dean’s Office will select four campus nominees to go forward. The ACLS will then make the final determination on the 40 planned fellowships across the country. Graduate program chairs should email their nominations directly to the Dean's Office at 

2) Proposals to Host a Fellow, due June 12:

The College of Letters & Science Dean’s Office is soliciting proposals for hosting an ACLS Emerging Voices fellow (EVF) from chairs/directors. Please note that the EVFs will be working full-time but remotely next year, given the COVID crisis. Proposals for hosting an Emerging Voices fellow should include:

  1. A short job description that can be sent as a position advertisement to the ACLS-selected EV Fellows across the country. It should outline departmental/programmatic home, areas of focus, and responsibilities, the latter two of which may be interdisciplinary.
  2. A brief statement (under 300 words) of departmental/programmatic need and how the proposed fellow would address criteria for the EVF program set by the ACLS, as outlined below.

Chairs/directors should email their proposals by Friday, June 12, 5pm, with subject line “ACLS Hosting Proposal,” to

An ad-hoc committee convened by the L&S Dean’s Office will select four hosting proposals to go forward to the ACLS. The ACLS will then make the final determination on the hosting institutions for the 40 Emerging Voices fellows across the country. Please be mindful of the criteria, sent to us by the ACLS, below — interdisciplinary proposals are very welcome, even encouraged, but they should still come from a departmental chair or program director.  

Timeline for Prospective and Approved Hosts

  • June 12: UCD chairs and directors send proposals to L&S Dean’s office
  • June 22: UCD L& Dean’s office confirms its 4 proposed positions and send job descriptions to ACLS
  • Early July: Fellow Finalists are notified and asked to complete questionnaire; second round of review (candidate-position matching) begins
  • Mid July: the ACLS Hosts receive short list of up to 6 finalists per position and schedule interviews 
  • End of July: Host institutions submit ranking of candidates
  • Early August: Host institutions confirm their acceptance of matches, candidates are notified, and matches are made

Program Details

See the Call for Nominations
The Emerging Voices Fellowship will allow recent PhDs in the humanities and related social sciences to take up one-year positions at select institutions in ACLS’s Research University Consortium beginning in August/September 2020. The program will provide a $60,000 stipend plus benefits, as well as $5,000 in research/professional development funding, childcare or elder care costs, and access to ACLS professional development resources. Up to 40 fellowships will be available for a fall semester 2020 start date. We anticipate running a second competition this coming academic year for placements that will begin in fall 2021.

ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowship FAQ

This program is unusual in its commitment to moving very quickly to support new and recent PhDs during a time when much is unknown. Because our partnering universities are still working on plans for the academic year 2020-21, we will open the call for nominations in advance of identifying specific posts. While institutions select nominees, we will work with host universities to finalize the list of posts and related details. Given the uncertainty of travel and campus plans, we anticipate that work will be remote for the academic year 2020-21.

We appreciate the patience and understanding of everyone involved – candidates, faculty, and administrators – as we design in consultation a new competition that is fair, easy to navigate, and responsive to evolving conditions. We will share information with nominees, nominating institutions, and host institutions as it becomes available. We will post information related to this program on our website and update it regularly.


Eligibility criteria:

ACLS invites all institutions in the U.S. that grant the PhD in disciplines in the humanities and related social sciences to nominate up to four candidates each.* Candidates will not be permitted to hold Emerging Voices Fellowships at their PhD-granting institution. Given the uncertainty of travel and campus plans, we anticipate that work will be remote for the academic year 2020-21.

Applicants must

  • Have a PhD in the humanities or humanistic social sciences conferred between January 1, 2018 and August 1, 2020;
  • Have authorization to work in the United States for the duration of the position; neither ACLS nor the host university is able to sponsor visas in this short time frame;
  • Be nominated for this fellowship by the university where they received the PhD

Nominators should know that priority in the review process will be given to nominated applicants

  • Who show promise of making the humanities meaningful to non-specialist audiences
  • Who come from diverse backgrounds including historically underrepresented groups such as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian or Alaskan Native communities, and people with disabilities
  • Who have experience or show promise of leadership in institutional contexts or within their disciplines or interdisciplinary area of study.

Nominating deans will be invited to submit a list of up to four nominees. ACLS will notify candidates and request them to submit application materials.

Nominators should take into account that this program seeks to sustain emerging scholars who are “both-and”: who are both outstanding scholars and effective communicators to diverse audiences inside and/or outside the classroom. We will ask nominated candidates to describe their potential contribution to programmatic needs in their disciplinary or interdisciplinary field or area: specifically, how they use the classroom as a vehicle to attract students to humanistic study and research, and how they approach inclusive online teaching. We will also ask nominated candidates to choose from a list of programs and initiatives and explain their relevant experience and potential contribution. This list, which we are currently developing in dialogue with potential host institutions, includes but is not limited to programs and initiatives such as race and ethnicity studies, premodern studies, digital humanities, public humanities, medical humanities, environmental humanities, and community-engaged research.

In the week following the nomination deadline, ACLS will ask nominees to submit to our portal a CV, demographic information, dissertation abstract, and a detailed cover letter (maximum 2 pages).

Candidates will also request a letter to be submitted by the nominating dean through the ACLS application portal. This letter may draw on internal letters of reference by, e.g., the faculty adviser or the departmental director of graduate studies. The dean will also be asked to identify their nominees’ potential suitability for particular departments, programs, and/or initiatives.

All materials will be submitted via ACLS’s online fellowship application system and submitted applications will be evaluated through peer review based on the priorities noted above.

* For the purpose of this competition, the humanities and related social sciences include but are not limited to American studies; anthropology; archaeology; art and architectural history; classics; economics; ethnic studies; film; gender studies; geography; history; languages and literatures; legal studies; linguistics; musicology; philosophy; political science; psychology (excluding clinical or counseling psychology); religious studies; rhetoric, communication, and media studies; sociology; and theater, dance, and performance studies. PhDs in social science fields are eligible only if they employ predominantly humanistic approaches (e.g., economic history, law and literature, political philosophy, history of psychology).

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