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Will the course be taught in person or online?

HRI will be taught in person in 2024.

What should I expect on the application?

Applicants will be expected to write a 300-word note introducing themselves to the professors leading the Humanities Research Intensive. We are interested in hearing about your previous experiences in the humanities, but please note that prior research experience is not necessary; enthusiasm and potential matter more than prior accomplishments. In your note, you will be asked to address the following prompts: 

  • Describe what you hope to learn from this experience, including a question you have about humanities research methods.
  • Tell us about your main interests right now, in the form of a question you wish you had an answer to, or a topic (large or small) that you would love to explore one day.

*This section of the application has a limit of 3500 characters, or around 500 words.


What are the humanities? Which fields are eligible for participation in HRI?

The humanities study the nature and achievements of human culture and civilization. They include the interpretation of literature and the arts, historical inquiry, the study of meaning and values (in fields like philosophy, political theory, or religion), and any other disciplines or interdisciplinary fields focused on the interpretation of culture. In particular, they include the following Stanford departments: Anthropology, Art and Art History, Classics, the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages (DLCL), East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC), English, History, Linguistics, Music, Philosophy, Political Science (especially political theory), Religious Studies, and Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS). They also include much of the research conducted in interdisciplinary programs like African and African American Studies, American Studies, Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. If you have a question about whether a particular subject falls within the humanities, feel free to contact jschweg [at] (Jeff Schwegman).

What if I don't have any research experience?

We are excited to welcome students with no prior research experience. Selection for the fellowship is based on promise and evidence of intellectual engagement, not previous experience. During the week you will learn methods that are applicable to humanities research in many topics and disciplines. You will finish this fellowship feeling excited and ready to delve into more research with increasing independence over time.


Do I need to have an idea for a potential research project in order to apply?

No. This program is designed to teach you how to begin developing a research idea from scratch.

What will each day look like?

While the exact plans will be determined by the faculty, a typical day will look like this: In the mornings, you will gather as a group, either at our home base in the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) or in one of our university archives or collections, and the faculty will introduce materials and lead discussions about humanities research methods. Many sessions will involve hands-on work with manuscripts, books, artifacts, maps, and art objects from these collections. During the afternoons, you will develop the themes raised in the morning sessions through discussion sessions, one-on-one meetings with faculty, visits to additional collections on campus, and structured time for individual work. The week as a whole will be organized around helping you develop your own practice research proposal, based on an object you select from the Stanford collections: you will pick your object on Monday and present your draft proposal to the class on Saturday. In the middle of the week, we’ll take a field trip to Stanford’s ecological field station, Jasper Ridge, to learn about research methods in archaeology and the environmental humanities.

How many students can participate?

We accept 30 students each year.

What if I don't know whether I want to major in the humanities?

Not a problem! This course is specifically designed for undeclared frosh and sophomores who have some sort of interest in the humanities or arts, but who may not know what they intend to study. Participating in research is actually an excellent way to explore potential interests and discover whether they might be a good fit.

Is this program only for students interested in specific humanities fields, such as classics, religious studies, art history, or film and media studies?

The Humanities Research Intensive will be taught in 2023 by Professors Usha Iyer (Film and Media Studies), John Kieschnick (Religious Studies), Emanuele Lugli (Art and Art History), and Rose Salseda (Art and Art History), and they will design some of the core activities around research collections and methods in their areas of expertise. The aim of the program, however, is to prepare students for research in all humanities disciplines, and the skills you learn will be generally applicable to many fields. You will also have opportunities, both during spring break and afterwards, to connect with faculty and advanced undergraduates from other departments and to learn about specific research collections relevant to your interests.  

When can I apply?

 We are still accepting applications on a rolling basis. Apply now! 

When will I find out if I have been selected?

We will notify you within several days of receiving your application. 

What are the research opportunities available to me after HRI?

Students who complete the Humanities Research Intensive course are eligible to apply for special HRI Research Fellowships—which are not available to any other students—during the ensuring academic year. You can use these fellowships to support independent research projects of your own design, as well as collaborative work with a professor or lab on a faculty-led project. We offer small fellowships of $1,500 for part-time research during an academic term or over the summer, as well as a few large fellowships of $7,500–$9,000 for full-time projects during the summer. See the HRI Fellowships Guide for full details.

In addition, Stanford offers many other opportunities to get involved in humanities research that are open to all students, including VPUE Student Research Grants (Major Grants, Small Grants, Conference Grants, and Chappell Lougee Scholarships), the Changing Human Experience Undergraduate Researcher ProgramHume Humanities Honors FellowshipsBing Honors College, and Research Assistantships at CESTA, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Bill Lane Center for the American West. HRI will prepare you to submit competitive applications for these opportunities. 

What if the 2 units for HRI push me over the maximum limit for spring quarter?

Although it takes place during spring break, HRI is formally registered as a spring quarter course. Therefore, you must leave enough space in your spring course plan to accommodate the 2 units from HRI. For full-time students, the maximum limit is 20 units. There is a university process whereby you can petition to exceed this limit, but success is not guaranteed.

What is the time commitment during spring break?

The Humanities Research Intensive is a full-time, immersive experience that will occupy most of your time during spring break. The program begins with an opening reception on Sunday, March 24, and concludes after lunch on Saturday, March 30. In between, you will be in class from around 9 am to 5 pm each day, with homework assignments in the evenings. You are required to attend all sessions. In short, you should avoid making any other plans during spring break except on Saturday, March 23 or Sunday, March 31, which are free.

Can I participate in HRI if I take a leave of absence during spring quarter?

No. Although it takes place over spring break, HRI is formally registered as a spring quarter course. Therefore, you must be enrolled as a full-time student during spring quarter.