Graduate Public Scholars


Call for Proposals: 2023 Graduate Public Scholars

due Friday, December 16, 2022 by 11:59  pm-PST


I. Program Details

The UC Davis Humanities Institute invites applications from doctoral and MFA students in the arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences to join the 2023 cohort of Public Scholars. The program introduces graduate students to the intellectual and practical aspects of identifying, addressing, and collaborating with members of the public through their scholarship. Successful applicants will attend four workshops and will work with a community partner during winter and spring quarters 2023 to develop a community-based research project. Selected applicants will receive a $4,000 stipend paid over two quarters to support the project, with the possibility of receiving academic credit from their home department.

Please see below for full information about the application process.

I a. Pre-established Projects

Applicants must select to work on a pre-established project with a community partner from the descriptions below. When applying, students must indicate their primary choice and tailor the application to fit the pre-established project description. Applicants must also list two other projects for which they would like to be considered if their primary choice is not available, and include a few sentences about how they might be qualified for those positions as well. Please contact the Public Humanities Coordinator (Rohma Khan,, rather than the host organizations, with any questions.

I b. Eligibility

We welcome doctoral and MFA students in the arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences at any stage of their graduate training. Anyone with an interest in public scholarship and community-engaged research is encouraged to apply, whether or not that interest is explicit in their dissertation research.

I c. Application Materials

  • CV (2 pages max.): Please include contact information, academic department, relevant employment history, academic accomplishments, and academic advisor’s name.
  • Proposal Narrative (3 pages max., double-spaced, in 11-point font): The narrative should address your interest in this program and your ability to plan and carry out an intellectually grounded, mutually beneficial arts- or humanities-based project with a community partner. Be sure to outline your qualifications for the pre-established project. The application should address your general suitability for the program and ability to carry out the project in question, and explicitly address the evaluation criteria below.
  • Letter of Recommendation (1): The recommendation letter should come from your major advisor or department chair. This can be a brief letter addressing your potential for success with the pre-established project you indicate as your top choice. 

I d. Submission

Please submit application materials to the DHI funding portal. Proposals must be submitted as ONE DOCUMENT in .doc or .docx format with the SUBJECT LINE: Public Scholars Program Proposal. Please direct your recommender to submit their reference letter separately. Proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. on Friday December 16, 2022. Late submissions will not be considered. 

II. Evaluation Criteria, Review, and Selection

II a. Criteria for Pre-established Projects with Community Partners

  • The impact and value of the applicant’s experience for the selected community partner, including personal, professional or academic backgrounds.
  • The applicant’s potential to execute community-engaged work, expressed as desire and/or track record. Examples: Volunteer work, internships, community organizing, and/or political activism.
  • The intellectual foundation of the application: the applicant’s foundation in the arts, humanities, or humanistic social sciences and its significance to the pre-established project.
  • The applicant’s potential to contribute to the university’s commitment to diversity (including service, research, and perspective). 

II b. Review and Selection Process

The review committee will use the above criteria to evaluate applications. The committee will also consider factors in addition to the criteria above when compiling the final cohort, such as the distribution of disciplines, project areas, and communities served. The community partner will choose from among finalists recommended by the DHI’s selection committee. Fellows will be announced in late December 2022. If selected, the scholar must participate in and complete all components of the program including four workshops on public scholarship, reporting monthly to the Program Coordinator, execution of community engaged project, final project blog post, and a Fall 2023 showcase

III. 2023 Pre-established Partner Projects 

  1. City of Davis Arts & Cultural Affairs: Community Engagement with the Davis Centennial Seal

The City of Davis Arts and Cultural Affairs Program supports community-based arts projects, cultural opportunities, and education initiatives that foster excellence, diversity, and vitality in the arts. In commemoration of the City of Davis Centennial in 2017, local artist Susan Shelton created a bronze seal, 6 feet in diameter, installed in front of the historic Hunt Boyer Mansion in downtown Davis, CA. The Davis Centennial Seal represents the city in a multi-faceted way through a circular, ringed design that tells ongoing human and natural histories through the themes of aspiration, community, cooperation, leadership, innovation, engagement, global citizenship, stewardship, vision, and optimism.

Building on the work of past Scholars, the 2023 Public Scholar will engage the archives and stories in the Davis Centennial Seal to create either A) curriculum materials for K-12 educators, B) online interpretive materials, or C) public programming based on the applicant’s skills and interests. Materials and programming will engage the storytelling dimensions of the seal and address the many themes within the design such as natural history, innovation, political and cultural history, and environmental justice.

  1. Sacramento Gender Health Center: LGBTQ+ Community Art

The Gender Health Center is a Trans and People of Color-run nonprofit which aims to provide essential services to the transgender community of Sacramento and the surrounding areas. Through trans-informed and affirming Mental Health, Advocacy, Healthcare, and Harm Reduction Services, the Gender Health Center strives to connect trans community members with the resources, supplies, and information they need in order to live the safest and most fulfilling lives that they deserve. The Gender Health Center currently provides individual and relational counseling, healthcare navigation and legal name and gender change help, a hormone prescription clinic for folks without health insurance, and a syringe exchange program, among many other services.

For the UC Davis Public Scholar Program, the Gender Health Center is hoping to be able to work with a fellow that can create art pieces that we can showcase around our building. Although many of our transgender staff members, interns, and community members are incredible creatives who express themselves through art, at the moment we do not have any art on display that is specific to the queer and trans experience. We believe that powerful and personal art created by a trans person or a person of the greater LGBTQ+ community would greatly benefit our community members when they come in for counseling, advocacy, and healthcare services. These art pieces can attempt to answer questions such as, “How does it feel to be a trans person in a world that is so violently gender-conforming?” “What does safety and joy look or feel like when you’re trans?” “What does community look like when you’re trans?”

  1. California State Parks and Tribal Affairs: Training for Tribal Land Acknowledgements 

California State Parks manages 1.9 million acres of land that contain the largest and most diverse recreational, natural and cultural heritage holdings of any state agency in the nation. The lands that Parks stewards include the ancestral lands of most of the federally and non-federally recognized tribes in California. Parks’ Tribal Affairs Program manages statewide tribal policies, oversees the NAGPRA Program, and supports the development of Tribal Memoranda of Understanding. The Tribal Affairs Program also assists with Tribal Consultations, special projects, and general tribal affairs. 

As part of a new project, Parks hopes to develop tribal land acknowledgements for the 279 state park units. The Tribal Affairs Program will develop resources and deploy staff to support this work in our 21 Districts. In preparation, we would like to work with a 2023 Public Scholar to begin developing training materials for District staff to prepare them for the development of tribal land acknowledgements, which will central tribal consultation. The Scholar will collaborate with our team to develop guidance and background materials for a training held in May and support project planning.   

  1. International House Davis: Public Humanities Fellow

International House Davis (I-House) is a social gathering space where people from all over the world come together. It is a place dedicated to fostering international understanding, creating cultural connections, building community and exploring global issues. We provide a welcoming space for English learners, international families and scholars, and local community members to practice language and cultural expression, gather together, learn, and share. 

I-House invites a UC Davis Public Humanities Fellow to join the I-House team for one of the following projects:

  • Communications Fellow: Work with the leadership team to develop and implement an external communications strategy for I-House programs that includes: drafting press releases and flyers, developing social media campaigns and content, creating media pitches and organizing media contacts. 
  • Learning Pass Fellow: Assist with the development, coordination and administration of I-House’s growing “Learning Pass Program,” featuring language learning groups and other volunteer-led programs to build community among international and local residents. I-House hosts weekly language learning groups which are facilitated sessions focused on building conversation skills. These groups are informal, but important community building and cultural exchange activities, particularly for English learners. The Language Learning fellow will help administrate, assess the effectiveness of, and conduct outreach for the program. 
  • Gathering Series Fellow: Assist with the development and implementation of I-House’s pilot “Gathering Series” program, a new community-led program that will explore the relationship between social gatherings and social justice. 
  • International Festival (I-Fest) Fellow: I-House produces our signature event, International Festival, on the first Sunday of October every year. This festival features international performing artists and craft makers. The I-Fest Fellow will join the planning team for the 2023 festival with preliminary planning and outreach in the Spring of 2023.  *Ideally, the International Festival Fellow would be available to continue the fellowship through the Summer of 2023 and culminating in participating in the festival on October 1st, 2023. 
  1. The City of Sacramento- Historic Preservation Office: African American Experience Project

The City of Sacramento Historic Preservation Program officially dates from 1975 and is housed within the Community Development Department. To advance inclusiveness and social equity, the City’s preservation program has shifted from its initial primary focus on documenting outstanding works of architecture to that of documenting and celebrating often overlooked properties with significant ethnic social-historical associations. To pursue this goal, the city applied for and received a small grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund to support its citywide evaluation of African American historical resources in Sacramento. The project, dubbed The African American Experience (AAE) History Project, is approaching its completion deadline of May 31, 2023. The support of graduate student history researchers at the local universities and oral histories contributed by the black community have been essential in advancing the project thus far. 

The City of Sacramento is seeking a graduate school student intern to conduct historical research supporting Sacramento’s AAE History Project. The intern will provide research support to the City’s historic consultant in completing an overview history, known as an historic context statement, documenting the African American community in Sacramento, and its history from the early founding years of the city circa 1850 through the 1980s period. The historic context is organized by historic themes addressing research questions such as migration and settlement patterns over time, business and commercial development, religion and spirituality, civic engagement and the fight for civil rights, and the arts, culture, and recreational contributions of black Sacramentans. The intern will work under the direction of the City’s historic consultant, which reports on a weekly basis to the City’s Historic Preservation Director.  

The preferred candidate is pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in history, sociology, historic preservation planning, cultural geography or a related discipline and possesses a bachelor’s degree in history, cultural geography, political science, sociology, or related discipline, with at least a minor focus on Western United States history subject matter. The preferred candidate shall have some experience researching topics such as the historic, social-cultural and/or demographic characteristics of communities of color in 19th- or 20th-Century Western United States.