NEH Summer Stipend Applications

I. Internal Procedure for Evaluating Applications

1) The internal St. Olaf deadline for receipt of applications (to the Provost and Dean of the College) is noon on April 15, 2016, as stated on the Application Deadlines page.  A complete application at this stage consists only of a project narrative (in full accordance with NEH criteria), a project bibliography and a CV, including names of recommenders who would be solicited should the application be chosen for submission to the NEH.  No actual letters are required at this stage.  The applicant should provide seven copies of all application materials.  The successful applicant will be informed by the end of Spring Term classes, if not earlier, so as to allow him/her to begin revisions of his/her proposal and to solicit their recommendation letters.

II. Summary of NEH Criteria

The Faculty Life Committee will evaluate applications for the NEH Summer Stipend solely according to the NEH’s own criteria. Those criteria can be found at:

A summary of those criteria is as follows: applicants are required to submit a “project narrative” (3 single-spaced pages; 12,500 characters; 1,785 words) and a “project bibliography” (one single-spaced page; 4,000 characters; 570 words) that will be reviewed by scholars not necessarily possessing a “specialized knowledge of the proposed field of study”, and therefore should be “free of jargon”.  They also require a letter from a “nominating official” at St. Olaf, as well as two letters of recommendation which discuss “the project’s significance to the field, the intended audience, the likely outcome, the general quality of your work, and your ability to carry out the project successfully.”  They recommend that “no more than one” of these two letters should be from someone at the applicant’s own institution.

The project will be evaluated in terms of:

1) the significance of the contribution that the project will make to knowledge in the specific field and to the humanities generally

2) the quality or promise of quality of the applicant’s work

3) the quality of the conception, definition, organization and description of the project

4) the likelihood that the applicant will complete the project

In addition to these official criteria, the NEH website makes a variety of informal suggestions for what the project narrative should address, including (these retain the numbering from the original list, but are not a complete summary of that list):

2) clarity on “what part or stage of your project” for which the summer grant would be providing support

3) what exact work will be accomplished during the award period

4) how the project will “complement, challenge, or expand relevant studies in the field”

6) what your linguistic competence is for studying the texts involved

8-9) the intended audience and results of the project

NEH Deadlines:  Applications selected by the FLC need to be submitted to the NEH by the faculty member following their procedures with award notices made in late March of the following year