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Working with Scholars

Involving Scholars in Humanities Programs for the Public

What is a humanities scholar?

Someone who has an advanced degree in a discipline of the humanities is generally considered a scholar. Scholars can provide context for a project and identify relevant humanities themes and ideas.

The importance of working with scholars

The National Endowment for the Humanities funds projects grounded in sound humanities research. Humanities advisors will strengthen the intellectual substance of a program. Humanities scholars can bring local perspectives and help shape themes for discussion.

When to contact humanities advisors

Include humanities scholars as early as possible in the planning process. Early involvement of scholars will strengthen the quality and depth of the scholarship which is at the heart of your program.

Engaging public audiences

Be mindful of your audience. Scholars should work with the programming team to ensure the scholarship is made accessible and appealing for public audiences. Academic lectures are often less engaging for public audiences than panel discussions. Be sure to build into your program opportunities for audience members to ask questions and share their own experiences.

Identifying scholars for a public programming event

  • Start by contacting a nearby college or university academic department. Members of the institution’s faculty may be able to suggest scholars on campus or at other universities. If you are affiliated with a college or university, email faculty members with a description of the proposed project and seek assistance from resident scholars. If you are not affiliated with a college or university, many institutions maintain an online directory of faculty, which may even include a professor’s area of research and teaching expertise.
  • Send a request for information to the editors of H-Net, the humanities online discussion network for humanities scholars. H-Net is at
  • You can also peruse booklists, libraries, and web resources to see who has published on topics related to your project.
  • Call your State Humanities Council, which regularly works with scholars in your area. A directory of State Humanities Councils is available in this Programming Guide.


Be sure to confirm, in writing, the dates the scholar will be needed. Provide logistical information, such as directions, contact information, and parking instructions. It is also helpful to provide, in advance, a rundown of the entire event, including set-up and rehearsal.

State Humanities Councils

The 56 humanities councils located in all U.S. states and jurisdictions support local humanities programs and events. Contact your State Humanities Council for help identifying local scholars and other potential project partners.

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