Skip to main content

Enduring Questions

Division of Education Programs

Receipt Deadline September 10, 2015 for Projects Beginning May 2016

The deadline for this program has passed.

Updated guidelines will be posted in advance of the next deadline. In the meantime, please use these guidelines to get a sense of what is involved in assembling an application.

Brief Summary

The NEH Enduring Questions grant program supports faculty members in the preparation of a new course on a fundamental concern of human life as addressed by the humanities. This question-driven course would encourage undergraduates and teachers to join together in a deep and sustained program of reading in order to encounter influential ideas, works, and thinkers over the centuries.

What is an enduring question? The following list is neither prescriptive nor exhaustive but serves to illustrate.

  • Are there universals in human nature?
  • What is the source of moral authority?
  • What is evil?
  • Can war be just?
  • Is peace possible?
  • What is worth dying for?
  • What is the value of education?
  • Can greed be good?
  • What is good government?
  • What is progress?
  • Am I my brother’s keeper?

Enduring questions persist across historical eras, regions, and world cultures. They inform intellectual, ethical, artistic, and religious traditions and engage thoughtful people from all walks of life. They transcend time and place but are also relevant to our lives today. Enduring questions have more than one plausible or compelling answer, allow for dialogue across generations, and inspire genuine intellectual pluralism.

The course is to be developed by one or more (up to four) faculty members at a single institution, but not team taught. Enduring Questions courses must be taught from a common syllabus and must be offered during the grant period at least twice by each faculty member involved in developing the course. The grant supports the work of faculty members in designing, preparing, and assessing the new course. It may also be used for ancillary activities that enhance faculty-student intellectual community, such as visits to museums and artistic or cultural events. An Enduring Questions course may be taught by faculty from any department or discipline in the humanities or by faculty outside the humanities (for example, astronomy, biology, economics, law, mathematics, medicine, or psychology), so long as humanities sources are central to the course.

Program Statistics

In its last five annual competitions, the Enduring Questions program received an average of 190 applications per year. The program made an average of 21 awards per year, for a funding ratio of 11 percent.

The number of applications to an NEH grant program can vary widely year to year, as can the success ratio. Information about the average number of applications and awards in recent competitions is meant only to provide historical context for the current competition. Information on the number of applications and awards in individual competitions is available from


Contact the staff of NEH’s Division of Education Programs at and 202-606-8380. Hearing-impaired applicants can contact NEH via TDD at 1-866-372-2930.