Office of Research

Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities


As one of the largest and most comprehensive humanities centers in the United States, the Simpson Center offers University of Washington scholars a rich spectrum of opportunities for intellectual community. The Center supports research and collaboration that allows scholars to build networks locally, ,at the UW and beyond.

The Center’s mission supports four objectives:
• Crossdisciplinary research and inquiry
• Initiatives in the humanities at the leading edge of change
• Innovative study at the graduate level
• Scholarship that reaches audiences beyond the academy

Core Services Offered

The Center provides funding and administrative support for fellowships, research clusters, graduate study groups, conferences, symposia, and microseminars, allowing faculty and graduate students to exchange ideas and develop projects with colleagues, visiting scholars, and members of cultural institutions in the community.

The Simpson Center maintains a suite of programs in the growing field of digital humanities after successfully completing challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that created a $2.5 million endowment. In 2015, the Simpson Center launched Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics, a program forging new forms of scholarship and teaching beyond traditional academic circles, supported by a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Simpson Center has gained national recognition for its work in the public humanities, a field that promotes mutually beneficial partnerships across institutions and sectors, providing pathways for scholars to share their work with broader audiences. The graduate Certificate in Public Scholarship is a portfolio- and project-based program that enables graduate students and faculty mentors to integrate their scholarly, social, and political commitments with their intellectual and professional development. The certificate was incubated at the Simpson Center and is now jointly led by the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at UW Bothell, UW Graduate School, and the Simpson Center.

Funding Information:

2015 – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards a $750,000 grant to establish Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics, a new program to take scholarship and teaching in the humanities to broader publics.
2013 – The Digital Humanities Challenge Grant with the National Endowment for the Humanities completed, establishing a $2.5 million endowment support for the Digital Humanities Summer Fellowship program.
2009 - Donald Petersen gives a major gift to support the Digital Humanities Commons Endowed Fund.
2009 – A $50,000 gift from Homer Bliss creates the Homer Bliss Endowed Fund in the Digital Humanities.
2009 - The National Endowment for the Humanities awards a Digital Humanities Challenge Grant of $625,000 (to be matched 3:1), launching a five-year fund-raising campaign for the Digital Humanities Summer Fellowship program.
2008 - A gift from Herbert Blau in honor of his parents establishes the Joseph and Yetta Blau Endowment to support graduate student scholarship ($40,000 as of 2015).
2003 - A $291,000 bequest from Yasuko Endo creates the Robert Bolles and Yasuko Endo Endowment, which supports UW humanities graduate students.
1997 - The Center is endowed by a major gift from Barclay and Sharon Simpson and renamed the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities in tribute to Barclay Simpson’s father.

Reporting Structure:

Shapiro, Divisional Dean of Humanities, College of Arts & Sciences

Related UW Entities:

College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Anthropology, Department of American
Ethnic Studies, Division of Art History, Department of Asian Languages &
Literature, Department of Classics, Department of Communication, Comparative
History of Ideas, Department of Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media, Dance, History, Digital
Arts & Experimental Media, Department of Drama, French &
Italian Studies, Department of Geography, Department of Germanics, Department
of History, Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilization, Department
of Linguistics, Ethnomusicology and Music History, Department of Philosophy,
Department of Political Science, Department of Scandinavian Studies, Department
of Slavic Languages & Literatures, Department of Sociology, Division of
Spanish & Portuguese Studies, Department of Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies,
Jackson School of International Studies; College of Education; School of Social
Work; College of Built Environments; Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (UW
Bothell); Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (UW Tacoma); School of Law;
Information School

Center Details

Director: Woodward, Kathleen
Location: 206 Communications
Year Started: 1987
Administrator / Program Manager: Singh-Brinkman, Nirmala (Assistant Director)
Administering College/School: College of Arts & Sciences 
P.I. Home Department: Department of English 
Faculty Involvement: 150