Humanities Awards
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

While this pilot program is in place, the SHASS Dean’s Office will award one or more Humanities Awards of up to $100,000 each year.

Projects should be focused on a humanistic topic. Priority will be given to collaborative proposals and projects that promise to have a broad impact within the School (or Institute) or have a substantial impact on undergraduate education.

Humanities Awards may be used to cover a wide range of expenses, including conferences, post-docs, visiting scholars, digital learning efforts, and teaching support. However, applications that are good candidates for D’Arbeloff or Alumni Class Funds support are discouraged. Awards may not be used to pay for teaching release.

Submissions should consist of:

  • A 1–2-page narrative including (1) a description of the project, (2) an explanation of the project’s importance, (3) an outline of the project’s collaborative nature (if applicable), (4) an explanation of the project’s impact on the School or Institute (if applicable), and (5) an explanation of the project’s impact on undergraduate education (if applicable).
  • A list of everyone involved in the project and the designation of a Project Lead.
  • A detailed budget explaining in detail how the funds would be used. (Budgets must have the approval of the Project Lead’s DAF.)
  • A letter of endorsement from the unit head of each participant in the project.
  • All faculty and instructional staff are eligible to apply.
  • Send submissions and any inquiries to

List of Humanities Awards recipients


MIT Swahili Studies Initiative


With the help of seed funding from the SHASS Humanities Award, the MIT Swahili Studies Initiative will empower the MIT community to engage with the African continent more deeply in their scholarship, teaching, and activism. Specifically, we want to provide students, colleagues, and staff the opportunity to study Swahili and associated cultures over the next five years during IAP. The project proposal was submitted by Per Urlaub, Director of MIT Global Languages. If the MIT Swahili Initiative attracts a sustainable number of students over the grant period, Global Languages commits to integrate this new program into its general budget to provide a continuous home for Swahili Studies at MIT. 


A diverse group of ten participants, including faculty and staff, mostly within but also beyond SHASS, will contribute in various ways to the success of the initiative. Some of them are committed to offer expertise for the development of the curriculum, others want to participate in co-curricular programming. All will enthusiastically promote the MIT Swahili Studies Initiative within their networks across the MIT community. The participants listed below are united in their firm belief that the MIT Swahili Studies Initiative will inspire a deeper and more sustained scholarly engagement with the African continent among their students and colleagues.


Project Leader: Per Urlaub (Global Languages; Literature)

Dina Asfaha (Anthropology) 

Joshua Bennett (Literature)

Michel DeGraff (Linguistics)

Mai Hassan (Political Science)

Ari Jacobovits (MIT-Africa/MISTI)

Kenda Mutongi (History)

Norvin Richards (Linguistics)

Tavneet Suri (Sloan School of Management)

Danielle Wood (AeroAstro; Media Arts and Sciences/Media Lab)


Global Mediations Lab


The Global Mediations Lab will be a catalyst for the study of media texts, industries, and infrastructures at a planetary scale, focusing on in-depth, carefully contextualized studies reaching beyond the usual focus of anglophone North America and Western Europe. Drawing on MIT, SHASS, and Comparative Media Studies' strengths in cross-disciplinary methods and systems thinking, the Global Mediations Lab fosters projects bringing a critical lens to the aesthetic, industrial, and infrastructural forces at play as media migrate around the world. Focusing not on static media objects but on the active process of mediation, we aim to map out the global media landscape in its moments of contestation and transformation. We envision the GML as the center of a collaborative community of scholars reimagining media research for a globally multipolar era, asserting the need for MIT to attend to the cultural and political impacts of media technologies - many of them first conceived of here - as they go on to transform life across the planet.


Project Lead and Co-Principal Investigator: Paul Roquet, associate professor of media studies & Japan studies, CMS/W

Co-Principal Investigator: Paloma Duong, associate professor of Latin American studies, CMS/W

Co-Investigator: Ian Condry, professor of Japanese culture and media studies, CMS/W and Anthropology