Work & Refuge: The Future of Graduate Student Professionalization, 2023-24

While the humanities have long served as a refuge for ideas, critical thinking, and creativity, the growing adjunctification of higher education and the heightened precarity that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic have made the discrepancy between generational outcomes and the clashes between ideals and practice in the field ever more apparent. As part of UCHRI’s new initiative, Refuge and Its Refusals, this program invites graduate students working on refuge and those invested in the future of work to think critically about work and graduate student professionalization as they relate to the themes of refuge, hospitality, and scarcity.

How does the tension between refuge and its refusal shape the nature of work within the university? What are the limits of the university as a space of refuge, especially for underrepresented scholars? What kind of space does the academy foster for students on various job markets and what are some ways in which we might imagine paths forward, intellectually and practically? UCHRI seeks graduate students invested in the future of work within and beyond the academy as well as those working on refuge more broadly, including on topics that range from placemaking in literature and the arts to sanctuary in religious thought to forced migration and environmental displacement. The grant provides support for participants to think together about the connections between work and refuge and develop reflection pieces on work and graduate student professionalization. Informed by the concept of refuge, these pieces will form a new critical series published on UCHRI’s online publishing platform Foundry, which is dedicated to innovative humanities scholarship that is experimental both in form and substance.

In addition to receiving reimbursement for research or professional development activities, the selected graduate students will form a network of like-minded peers from across the University of California, creating a temporary refuge and forging connections that will hopefully transcend the duration of the program. Participants will meet on Zoom quarterly to exchange ideas and discuss different ways of framing and promoting their projects. They will get the opportunity to engage with scholars and public intellectuals retheorizing work and the role of the university such as Nick Mitchell, Katina Rogers, and Anne Helen Petersen and will have a chance to rethink their pieces in workshops led by staff from organizations like the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and the Los Angeles Review of Books. At the end of the grant program, they will convene for a short-term retreat with a professional editor to prepare their pieces for potential publication on Foundry. The intellectual work of shaping the reflection pieces will thus be paired with collaborative hands-on professional experience surrounding the development of the project for a public facing outlet.

Applications must be submitted online via Submittable by 11:59 PM (Pacific time) on the deadline date.

Application Details

Interested graduate students must apply online via Submittable. Required documents include:

  • Project Title and Abstract (200 words max)
  • Statement of Purpose (800 words max)
  • Curriculum Vitae (2 pages max)

Successful applications should clearly demonstrate how their topic and contributions will advance research excellence in the humanities and how their intended piece pushes at the boundaries of Foundry’s current material. All project activities must take place between July 1, 2023 and December 31, 2024.

For program related questions, please contact Grants at Please specify the grant for which you require assistance. 

For technical assistance, please contact Submittable at