Guidelines for Proposals: Humanities and Public Life

Advice to Authors on Submitting Proposals to the Series “Humanities in Public Life”

This series aims to create a collection of excellent books that document the exciting publicly engaged projects in which artists and humanities scholars, especially in college and university settings, are working with community partners and cultural institutions to produce new knowledge while also contributing to the public good. Below, we outline objectives for our series. In preparing a proposal, we encourage you to explain how your project will help meet the series goals as you respond to the questions below. We look forward to learning more about the many exciting projects underway.

Goals for the Series

  • Document innovative, sustained publicly engaged projects
  • Provide a full, complex, unfolding account in order to describe the many dimensions of public scholarship
  • Offer an honest description of the challenges and failures of collaboration as well as the successes
  • Share best practices for university-community partnerships in the arts and humanities
  • Offer thoughtful assessments of engaged projects that can help establish measures for evaluating the impact of such work
  • Assist students, practitioners, and other colleagues who are developing their own publicly engaged research and teaching projects

Proposal Guidelines

Please submit a short, detailed proposal of 5–10 pages (12 point type and single-spaced) with a CV for each author of no more than 5 single-spaced pages. Please include CVs and the proposal together in a single PDF file. Be sure that your name(s) and contact information appear on the first page of the proposal.

As we review proposals, we are especially interested in the following questions:

The Project

  • How would you describe the project—very literally, what did you do and why? When and where did the project unfold?
  • What were the objectives and how did they change along the way?

The Participants

  • What individuals or groups partnered in this project? What did each contribute and how did the participation of each partner affect the process?
  • What individuals, groups, or "publics" participated in the project and/or were served by the project?


  • The series welcomes authors’ ideas for innovative design and format elements. Please provide us with information about any special features so that we can determine how they align with the financial and technical parameters of the University of Iowa Press.
  • If you were assembling a portfolio to document the project, what would you include (for example, project outlines, photographs, artifacts, contracts, letters of agreement, press releases and stories, media coverage, syllabi, informal or formal writing, publications, responses from participants, evaluations)? What kinds of documentation would be especially important to include in your book?
  • Do you imagine a digital counterpart for your book (for example, do you have or are you planning a website, podcasts, video, or other digital means of documenting your project)?
  • Estimate the probable length of the book (both a page count and a word count are helpful), number of illustrations and tables, and a note on potential permissions issues (reproduction of illustrations or excerpts of poetry or musical lyrics).


  • What was the impact of the project—long-term and short-term? How was this impact measured?
  • What successes and failures did you encounter during the process and what did you learn from both that would be helpful to others undertaking publicly engaged research and teaching?
  • Ultimately, how were you able to define the “success” of this project?
  • If you are a faculty member or practitioner, what role did this project play in your career? How did it speak to expectations of your discipline, department, and institution?
  • If you work at a community organization, what role did this project play in your career? How did it speak to the criteria used to evaluate you and your organization? Did this project contribute to the organization’s continued viability or improve its standing in the community?
  • How were you, other participants and partners, and your organization(s) challenged and even changed by this project?


  • How would readers benefit from learning about your project (for example, by reading a book about the work)? Who is the primary audience for this book?


  • Please comment explicitly on your timeline. At what stage are you in the process of writing the book? When do you anticipate having a completed manuscript available for review?