The Public Scholar Program supports well-researched books in the humanities intended to reach a broad readership. Although humanities scholarship can be specialized, the humanities also strive to engage broad audiences in exploring subjects of general interest. They seek to deepen our understanding of the human condition as well as current conditions and contemporary problems. The Public Scholar Program aims to encourage scholarship that will be of broad interest and have lasting impact. Such scholarship might present a narrative history, tell the stories of important individuals, analyze significant texts, provide a synthesis of ideas, revive interest in a neglected subject, or examine the latest thinking on a topic. Books supported by this program must be grounded in humanities research and scholarship. They must address significant humanities themes likely to be of broad interest and must be written in a readily accessible style. Making use of primary and/or secondary sources, they should open up important and appealing subjects for a wide audience. The challenge is to make sense of a significant topic in a way that will appeal to general readers. Applications to write books directed primarily to scholars are not appropriate for this program.
By establishing the Public Scholar Program, NEH entered a long-term commitment to encourage scholarship in the humanities for general audiences. The program is open to both individuals affiliated with scholarly institutions and independent scholars or researchers. Projects may be at any stage of development.
In its first two competitions the Public Scholar Program received an average of 402 applications per year. The program made an average of 33 awards per year, for a funding ratio of 8 percent.
The number of applications to an NEH grant program can vary widely from year to year, as can the funding 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 email@example.com.
Contact NEH’s Division of Research Programs at 202-606-8200 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants who are deaf or hard of hearing can contact NEH via Federal Relay (TTY users) at 800-877-8399.