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What is public humanities?

Whether taking the form of museum and gallery installations, documentary work, creative or scholarly work for digital platforms, historical walking tours, and other community history projects, or public programming such as lectures, readings, and recitals, Public Humanities at once embrace and endorse knowledge itself as a public good…Public Humanities seeks to enliven the intellectual and creative life of communities.”

(Brown Center for Public Humanities & Matthew Frye Jacobson)



About the Public Humanities Graduate Certificate

This certificate program offers Rutgers graduate students cross-departmental and interdisciplinary learning experiences in publicly engaged humanities scholarship and methods.

The certificate program aims to train students to engage diverse publics in reflecting on community engagement, collaborative knowledge production, digital literacy, history, memory, and culture, and the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of civic life. Along the way, students will develop the necessary skills for doing publicly engaged scholarship, for teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the publicly engaged humanities related to their disciplines, and to broaden their career pathways inside or outside academia as they complete their degrees.

This certificate will provide graduate students with the option to pursue a set of graduate courses that emphasize the public humanities across departments at Rutgers, as well as practicum components that foster independent skill-building in related fields. These courses focus on interdisciplinary learning and creating connections across different humanities fields and methods on campus and the world outside of the academy. It offers students a unique opportunity to consider the synergies between and among their intellectual work, program-based and independent projects, community and civic engagement, and future career options. It also serves Rutgers’ public service mission as a state university, facilitating deeper engagement with the peoples who surround and populate the university community.

Paid Graduate Public Humanities Internships, Summer 2023

Call for Applications – Deadline November 14, 2022  

The SAS Dean of Humanities Office has established partnerships with several leading public humanities organizations across the region to offer internships to graduate students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences in Summer 2023. Selected students will receive a stipend of $3,000 to participate in the projects and serve the missions of these organizations, while drawing on their own academic, personal, and professional backgrounds. These organizations’ work spans education, creative arts, digital humanities, preservation, public programming, and beyond. Placements will be thoughtfully calibrated to meet the interests and needs of both the student and the host organization. Through this program, students will receive training in public humanities methodologies, gain hands-on experience in public engagement around humanities themes and methods, and develop a network of mentors throughout the region.  Students will be matched by a faculty committee in consultation with the host institutions’ representatives, and during the Summer 2023 program, host organizations will receive a mentorship stipend for supporting the students’ learning experience.    

This program is internally supported by the SAS Dean of Humanities and the Rutgers Initiative for the Book.

This project was supported by an ACLS Sustaining Public Engagement Grant from the American Council for Learned Societies made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP) initiative. 

Past intern placements have included the Center for Digital Scholarship at the American Philosophical Society, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, Regional Plan Association, and more.  

A selection of potential host organizations for Summer 2023 includes:  

Graduate students may consider proposing an internship with a public humanities organization or public facing scholarly project related to their research that is not on the list of established partners, including international partners, which may then be considered for approval for the program. If you are interested in discussing this possibility, please contact the program coordinator, Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan. 


Internships will run from June through August 2023. Remote placements are available. Students are expected to work approximately 150 hours during their internship, to maintain close contact with their advisor and supervisor, and to produce a report or other synthetic project at the end of the internship, documenting how the experience contributed to their professional development.  The program coordinator will be in regular contact with interns in the program to ensure they’re receiving a high impact experience.   


Interested students should submit the following materials via email to Kristin O'Brassill-Kulfan at by November 14, 2022. 

  • curriculum vitae  
  • brief cover letter (outlining their research areas, interest in the program, relevant experience, etc.)  
  • 250 word public humanities research/methodologies statement (outlining specific public humanities skills or experience you’d like to cultivate, and/or how your work uses public humanities methods or explores public humanities themes, and/or how you would hope to apply your relevant interests/expertise in public humanities)  
  • a statement of support from your doctoral advisor, graduate program director, or other faculty mentor in your department

    Decisions will be reached by December 16.

Program Directors and Advisory Committee

Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan, Ph.D.
Public Humanities Graduate Certificate Coordinator, 2022-23
Assistant Teaching Professor and Coordinator of Public History, History Department

Jorge Marcone, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Humanities
Professor, Spanish and Portuguese/Comparative Literature


Advisory Committee:

  • Maria Kennedy -  American Studies
  • Jorge Marcone -  Spanish and Portuguese/Comparative Literature
  • Meredith McGill -  English
  • Jim McGlew -  Classics
  • Leah Price -  English
  • Lorraine Piroux -  French
  • Marcy Schwartz -  Spanish and Portuguese
  • Tamara Sears -  Art History
  • Andrew Urban -  American Studies/History

Eligibility and Registration

The Public Humanities Graduate Certificate will be open to currently enrolled master’s-level and doctoral students. The certificate will only be awarded upon completion of a master’s or doctoral degree.

Students interested in pursuing the graduate certificate or participating in its courses/program elements should email the Program Coordinator.

Program Requirements

The Public Humanities Graduate Certificate is a 9-credit program comprised of three courses, distributed as follows:

  • Introduction to Public Humanities, 16:534:587
  • One graduate elective in Public Humanities, from approved list below
  • Practicum, consisting of an approved internship or public-facing independent project

See below for more detail about each program component.

Introduction to Public Humanities (3 credits, 16:534:587)

Students must complete this course in order to be awarded the Public Humanities Graduate Certificate. In the course, students will receive an orientation to the field and to diverse public humanities methodologies. This course is designed to give students a "Public Humanities practice toolkit" including learning about project management, community engagement, and reaching a wide variety of audiences in public writing. Crucially, this course includes experiential learning in Digital Humanities and Oral History methods, instructive site visits, and critical networking opportunities with guest speakers and local practitioners. This course will prepare students to pursue independent and project-based work in public humanities and to network with professionals in the field. Students will be invited to continue their conversations in a Working Group in Public Humanities at the Center for Cultural Analysis (established in 2019).

One graduate elective in Public Humanities (3 credits)

Courses that fulfill this requirement include but are not limited to the list below. Additional courses may be added on a semester-by-semester basis. If you are interested in using a course not listed here to fulfill this requirement, please contact one of the program directors.

  • 16:082:593 Foundations in Cultural Heritage
  • 16:082:605 Methods in Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies
  • 16:082:593 Museums, Collecting, and Preserving
  • 082.563 Curatorial Training Seminar
  • 082.698 Exhibition Seminar
  • 01:350:513 Literature and New Media
  • 01:350:514 Cultural Studies and Planetary Change
  • 08:206:559 Dance Studies and Oral Performance
  • 08:206:523 Dance Externship
  • 08:206:522 History of Creative Engagement
  • 16:510:631 Colloquium in Latin American History
  • 16:510:521 Colloquium in Labor History
  • 16:510:509 Teaching of History
  • (new proposed course, History Department) Law and History
  • (new proposed course, Italian Department) Digital Editing: Theories and Practices
  • 16:940:540. Environmental Humanities: Inter- and Transdisciplinary Issues
  • 16:940:604. Public Culture in Latin America

Practicum, consisting of an approved internship or public-facing independent project ( 3 credits; Students enroll in independent study courses in their own departments to fulfill this requirement)

  • Students register for an Independent Study course, or any other appropriate course number, in their own department (3 credits)
  • In order to fulfill the Practicum requirement, students may:
    • Choose to pursue an internship through the Graduate Public Humanities Summer Internship program supported by the Dean of Humanities Office, or a different supervised public humanities internship approved by the certificate coordinator/Advisory Committee members.
    • Or choose to create a public-facing independent project that will be supervised by a member of the Advisory Committee or an Affiliated Faculty Member.

In either case, students work with the certificate coordinator and/or a member of the Advisory Committee with expertise relevant to their interests to make arrangements to either complete an internship (possibly within the Public Humanities Summer Internship program referenced above) with a public humanities agency/institution or complete an independent public-facing project.  If the student completes an internship to fulfill this requirement, that faculty member will act as the student’s academic advisor for the placement. If the student chooses to create a public-facing project to complete the requirement, a faculty member from the Advisory Committee will advise and evaluate the project.

Through this course, students will make valuable contributions to the field of public humanities in their independent projects and/or in collaborations with the sites/agencies where they complete their internships.


Public Humanities Initiative

The Public Humanities Initiative supports a Public Humanities Graduate Certificate, and a Public Humanities Graduate Summer Experiential Learning Program, among other projects. Our programming, often in coordination with other SAS departments, programs, and centers, includes a schedule of conferences, lectures, and workshops.