The Scholarship We Represent

The humanities comprise those fields of knowledge and learning concerned with human thought, experience, and creativity.

By exploring the foundations of aesthetic, ethical, and cultural values and the ways in which they may endure, be challenged, or transformed, humanists help us appreciate and understand what distinguishes us as human beings as well as what unites us.  Humanists study many different subjects, such as history, languages and literatures, philosophy, art history, and religion.

Humanistic inquiry encompasses all areas of research and learning that ask fundamental questions about the way individuals and societies live, think, interact, and express themselves.

This includes interpretive social sciences such as sociology, psychology, and anthropology as they involve the analysis and interpretation of evidence that is not necessarily quantifiable or open to experimentation.

For the purpose of ACLS fellowship and grant competitions, the humanities and interpretive social sciences include but are not limited to American studies; anthropology; archaeology; art history and architectural history; classics; economics; ethnic studies; film and media studies; gender studies; geography; history; languages and literatures; legal studies; linguistics; musicology; philosophy; political science; psychology; religious studies; rhetoric and communication; science and technology studies; sociology; and theater, dance, and performance studies.

However, proposals in the social science fields listed above are eligible only if they employ predominantly humanistic approaches and qualitative/interpretive methodologies (e.g., economic history, law and literature, political philosophy, history of psychology). Proposals in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary humanities and related social sciences are welcome, and most programs do not restrict the focus of research to any geographic region or to any cultural or linguistic group of study.

ACLS Fellowship and Grant Competitions

In the 2021-22 competition year ACLS recognized 400 outstanding awardees in 13 programs. Across all our competitions, these cohorts of dynamic scholars clearly exemplify our value of inclusive excellence.

Learn more about our current programs.

The ACLS global community of fellows and grantees represents the rich diversity that is humanistic scholarship.

Meet some of our most recent awardees.

Peer review is a process by which experts in a given discipline or group of disciplines confirm the value of another scholar’s research and attest to its having met the field’s standards. Through peer review, scholars collectively help establish a reliable body of knowledge. ACLS fellows and grantees are selected through this process. In this way, ACLS contributes to academic self-governance and establishes standards of excellence in scholarship, two goals that help define our endeavors and those of our societies.

Learn more about our process.

Learn more about upcoming fellowship and grant competition deadlines.

Our Communities

Learned societies are independent, not-for-profit scholarly organizations that serve as a forum to discuss issues of interest to their members and constituents and set professional and scholarly standards for their fields. Learned societies have been vitally important in setting standards of excellence in research, writing, and education.

Many societies representing humanistic fields of study are also deeply involved in pressing issues facing the academy including employment, diversity and inclusion, professional ethics, and elevating the value of humanistic research and knowledge.

ACLS Member Societies
Each year, ACLS welcomes applications from learned societies whose work focuses on the advancement and support of humanistic scholarship and whose membership includes a substantial proportion of scholars. Applications must be received by September 1 to be considered for admission in the following year. Contact James Shulman for more information.

ACLS Research University Consortium
ACLS Research University Consortium membership is by invitation only. Contact Mary Richter for more information.

ACLS Associate Member Network
ACLS invites and accepts applications for its Associate member network on a rolling basis. Contact Mary Richter for more information.

ACLS Affiliate Members
Each year, ACLS welcomes applications from organizations and institutions with goals and missions that closely align with those of ACLS. Applications must be received by September 1 to be considered for admission in the following year. Contact James Shulman for more information. 

More About ACLS

Each year, ACLS publishes a comprehensive Annual Report which includes a financial overview, as well as highlights and achievements from the year and a full list of competition awardees.

In spring 2020, ACLS published a comprehensive set of Strategic Priorities covering 2020-2024.

ACLS has also published annual updates on the progress of those priorities.

ACLS has specific guidelines used in decisions around issuing public statements.