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American Frontiers in Global Perspective

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2012

“American Frontiers in Global Perspective” is a three-week school teacher institute for twenty-five participants on frontiers in the American South, Midwest, and West in a comparative international context. The institute aims at a re-evaluation of American frontier history and the idea of American “exceptionalism” (i.e., uniqueness) by a comparison with frontiers in Canada, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Southern Africa. The institute explores the classic thesis originally articulated by Frederick Jackson Turner, which links American democratic character to the frontier experience; considers possible alternate conceptualizations (e.g., “borderlands,” “metropolises and peripheries”); and looks at specific American frontiers in the South, Midwest, and West, discussing Native Americans and the role of violent conquest.  It then offers comparisons with other societies, focusing on the themes of frontiers and empires, “intruder” and indigenous peoples, “cowboys” and gold rushes, social evolution, and conflicts over land use. The institute staff includes co-directors William Katerberg (Western American studies, Calvin College) and Carol Higham (history, University of North Carolina, Charlotte); Calvin College faculty members Robert Schoone-Jorgen (history), James Skillen (environmental studies), and William Van Vugt (history); and Andrew Graybill (history, University of Nebraska) and Richard Slatta (history, North Carolina State University).  

Dates: June 24—July 14 (3 weeks)
Grantee Institutions: Calvin College
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.