ACLS Fellowships & Philosophers


The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) has announced the winners of some of its fellowships and grants, and there are some philosophers among them. But not many.

The ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowship was created in response to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic “to support early career scholars whose voices, perspectives, and broad visions will strengthen institutions of higher education and humanistic disciplines in the years to come.” The fellows recieve “year-long placements with members of ACLS’s Research University Consortium, where they can advance their research and professional development while contributing to the teaching, programming, and administrative work of their host university.”

Of the 45 members of the 2020 class of ACLS Emerging Voices Fellows, one is a philosopher:

Nicoletta Montaner, a recent PhD from Loyola University, Chicago, whose fellowship will be at the University of California, Berkeley.

There were 64 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellows for 2020. These fellowships provide a year of support to advanced graduate students. Two were awarded to doctoral students in philosophy programs:

ACLS Project Development Grants. These “offer flexible seed funding to help advance the research agendas of faculty at teaching-intensive colleges and universities.” For 2020 there are 15 recipients of these grants, none of whom are philosophers.

And a new program: ACLS Leading Edge Fellowships. This program “aims to demonstrate the potential of people with advanced degrees in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to solve problems outside the academy.” Winners of this fellowship for 2021 all worked in art history, architectural history, and “related fields”; there are 5 of them, none of whom are philosophers.

To sum up, the ACLS, which is dedicated to funding scholars in the humanities and related social sciences, this year bestowed 269 fellowships or grants through various programs for which philosophers were eligible, and only seven of the fellowships or grants—2.6%—went to philosophers.

The poor showing by philosophers was the subject of a discussion here last year. In that discussion, Amy Ferrer, executive director of the American Philosophical Association (which is a member society of the ACLS), noted that only 5% of the ACLS fellowship applications were from philosophers. By contrast, 25% were from historians. She says, “Historians and philosophers win fellowships at the same rate, but WAY fewer philosophers are applying, so fewer win. Go apply, philosophers!

These numbers may be different for the past year (I don’t know one way or another), but regardless, Ms. Ferrer’s advice seems worth following. Go!

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