What We Do
Formed in 1919, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is a nonprofit federation of 79 scholarly organizations. As the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and interpretive social sciences, ACLS holds the core belief that knowledge is a public good. As such, ACLS strives to promote the circulation of humanistic knowledge throughout society. In addition to stewarding and representing its member organizations, ACLS employs its $180 million endowment and a more than $30 million annual operating budget to support scholarship in the humanities and social sciences and to advocate for the centrality of the humanities in the modern world.
The American Council of Learned Societies was founded to support the free circulation of knowledge, on the belief that deep understanding of human thought and action is a key part of creating a just and peaceful world. ACLS President Joy Connolly
For more than a century, ACLS has provided the humanities and interpretive social sciences with leadership, opportunities for innovation, and national and international representation. The ACLS president speaks and provides thought leadership in the US and abroad on topics vital to scholarship and the academy today. ACLS also regularly convenes top scholars, educators, administrators, and thought leaders to collaborate on ways to continue the advancement of humanistic scholarship at the ACLS annual meeting, meetings and seminars for member societies, and commissions and working groups such as the Intention Foundry, made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Design Workshop for a New Academy, made possible by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.
ACLS fellows and grantees are engaged in creating new knowledge that benefits our understanding of the world. ACLS continues to be the leading private institution supporting scholars across a variety of humanistic disciplines and providing a range of opportunities for scholars at all career stages – from graduate students to distinguished professors to independent scholars – in the US and abroad.
ACLS has a long history of supporting new methods and subjects of humanistic scholarship. Since 2020, ACLS has launched a host of new programs designed to meet the needs of today’s academy and the PhDs it serves. These include the Leading Edge Fellowships, which demonstrate the potential of humanistic knowledge and methods to solve problems, build capacity, and advance justice and equity in society; Emerging Voices Fellowships, which focuses on the vanguard of scholars whose voices, perspectives, and broad visions will strengthen institutions of higher education and humanistic disciplines in the years to come; Sustaining Public Engagement Grants, which will support programs devoted to the co-creation of knowledge with diverse communities outside academia; and the Buddhism Public Scholars, which will bolster the capacity of museums and publications in Buddhist art and thought across all traditions and regions in which Buddhism is practiced.
The 79 scholarly organizations of the federation each represent distinct fields of study. All are dedicated to producing and promoting knowledge through strong, collaborative efforts as members of the American Council of Learned Societies.