UW 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

The Simpson Center is supported by three major sources of revenue:

  • The College of Arts & Sciences, which funds core staff at the Simpson Center and supports fellowships for UW faculty and doctoral candidates in the annual Society of Scholars
  • Endowments, which as of 10/1/2018, have a market value of $12.6 million
  • Grants, gifts, and subcontracts including but not limited to:
    • 2018 – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards a $650,000 grant to establish Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics: Catalyzing Collaboration, a new program building on the 2015 Mellon grant to strengthen the UW’s value to community colleges and the broader community and prepare doctoral students for careers in diverse institutions.
    • 2016 – The National Endowment for the Humanities funds a $179,000 City/Nature Humanities Summer Institute.
    • 2015 – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards a $750,000 grant to establish Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics, a 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 is completed, establishing a $2.5 million endowment to support the Digital Humanities Summer Fellowship program (market value $3,556,572 as of 10/1/2018).
    • 2011 – The Center for Biological Futures at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center awards the Simpson Center $645,388 to establish summer research clusters, a colloquium series, and a research integrity project on the global implications of new biological knowledge and technologies.
    • 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 (market value $58,511 as of 10/1/2018).
    • 2006 – A $100,000 Ford Foundation grant funds Difficult Dialogues, a multiyear initiative to identify and open up opportunities for curricular, pedagogical, and social transformation through student-generated events and course development.
    • 2003 – A $291,000 bequest from Yasuko Endo creates the Robert Bolles and Yasuko Endo Endowment, which supports UW humanities graduate students (market value $508,567 as of 10/1/2018).
    • 2002 – The Center receives a $325,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Critical Asian Studies: Forum on Trauma, History, and “Asia,” to fund postdoctoral scholars.
    • 2001 – With a donation over several years of $750,000, Fredric Danz supports the Danz Courses in the Humanities, undergraduate courses team-taught by two faculty members from different departments, enabling students to have crossdisciplinary educational experiences.
    • 1997 – The Center is endowed by a major gift of $5 million from Barclay and Sharon Simpson and renamed the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities in tribute to Barclay Simpson’s father and former dean of the College of Arts & Sciences (market value $8.47 million as of 10/1/2018).

Reporting Structure

Brian Reed, Divisional Dean for the Humanities

Related UW Entities

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