Humanities Research Institute
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Antoinette Burton Professor of History and Gender and Women's Studies

Deputy Director

Nancy Castro

Office Support Specialist

Stephanie Uebelhoer


The Humanities Research Institute (HRI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was established in 1997 (originally known as the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities) to promote interdisciplinary study in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. HRI coordinates and hosts lectures, symposia, and panel discussions on a wide variety of topics, and provides awards that recognize excellence in humanities research to faculty and students. HRI supports faculty-driven initiatives through its Research Clusters initiative and provides support to faculty and graduate student reading groups. The program was granted official institute status by the state board of higher education in June 2020.

HRI grants fellowships to Illinois faculty and graduate students, and in fall 2010 welcomed the first Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellows in the Humanities, supported by a six-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Thanks to the continued generosity of the Mellon Foundation, HRI continues to support post-doctoral research with an additional fellowship program that started in fall 2016. The HRI also serves as the administrative locus for the Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls consortium.

Since 2006, the Odyssey Project has operated as a free nine-month humanities course offered to members of the Champaign-Urbana community who live at or near the poverty level. The course—which is supported by the Office of the Chancellor, the College of Education, and a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council—is taught by Illinois faculty. HRI has also been in affiliation with the Education Justice Project, a prison education program supported by the Illinois Humanities Council and individual donors, since 2008.