The ACLS Humanities Program in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine was established in the academic year 1998-99 with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The program’s principal activity was the distribution of grants to individuals in these three countries. ACLS worked closely with scholars in the region who represent a variety of disciplines: they advised on program design and helped distribute and review applications. The review process included prescreening by scholars in the United States. Final awards were made by the Selection Committee.
The objective of this program was to sustain individuals doing exemplary work, so as to ensure continued future leadership in the humanities. In 2007, with the help of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the American Council of Learned Societies, the International Association for the Humanities (IAH) was founded as an independent association of humanities scholars primarily in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine to help represent the post-Soviet region in the international scholarly community. Starting in the academic year 2010-11, IAH organizes a competition for short-term grants in the humanities.
The ACLS Humanities Program in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine awarded projects in various fields, including history, archaeology, literature, linguistics, film studies, art history and studies of the performing arts, ethnographic and cultural studies, gender studies, philosophy, and religious studies. In the 12 years of the program's existence, 743 awards were made for project grants and publications as follows: 55 in the first year (for project grants only), 91 in 1999-2000, 71 in 2000-01, 81 in 2001-02, 79 in 2002-03, 58 in 2003-04, 56 in 2004-05, 53 in 2005-06, 52 in 2006-07, 56 in 2007-08, 54 in 2008-09, and 37 in 2009-10, the final year. (See Awardees and Reports).
To complement direct assistance to individuals, ACLS organized annual regional meetings for advisers and grant recipients. These meetings were modeled on the format of learned society conventions in the United States. They consisted of working seminars for advisers to make recommendations concerning the prospects for regional cooperation in the humanities and of panel sessions that provided the opportunity for critical but collegial discussion of the work of grant recipients.
Each year' annual meeting was held in a different city in order that as many alumni as possible could participate:
- 1999 – Warsaw University
- 2000 – Lviv Theological Academy and Ivan Franko Lviv National University
- 2001 – St. Petersburg at the European University, the State Archives, and the Hermitage Museum
- 2002 – Pecherska Lavra and Kiev-Mohyla National Academy
- 2003 – European Humanities University and Belarusian State University, Minsk
- 2004 – Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow
- 2005 – Karazin Kharkiv National University
- 2006 – Rostov-on-Don State University
- 2007 – Karazin Kharkiv National University
- 2008 – Kazan State University
- 2009 – Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv
- 2010 – Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv