Liberal Arts Engagement Hub

Fostering community engagement in the arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences 

About the Liberal Arts Engagement Hub

The Liberal Arts Engagement Hub (The Hub) in the College of Liberal Arts is an outgrowth of the college’s Roadmap and is a vehicle to deepen our culture of engagement with the community. It will be housed in a newly renovated Pillsbury Hall on the east bank of the Twin Cities campus, which will open to the public in fall of 2021.

The Hub manifests the College’s commitment to engaging humanistic scholars in the arts, humanities, and social sciences in a reciprocal partnership with the community to respond to important social problems. It is envisioned as a dynamic space where members of the University will become the students of the public, educated by and partnering with external community members around critical topics of shared interest.  

Unique to the University of Minnesota and rare among universities nationally, the space will be dedicated solely to fostering public engagement and civil society. It will thus assert its place among an elite group of similarly visionary efforts at select colleges and universities in the US where social justice, democracy, civic debate, and citizenship are integral to the educational mission. These include New York University’s Urban Democracy Lab, Rutgers University’s Express Newark, Brown University’s John Nichols Brown Center for Public Humanities, the New School’s Humanities Action Lab, and the Center for the Study of Democracy at St. Mary’s University in Maryland.

The Hub will be used to bring crucially important visibility to the engagement work that is already being done in the College of Liberal Arts, and it will serve as a catalyst for activities including classes, workshops, training sessions, listening sessions, exhibitions, and lectures. In addition to the specific projects and events that will be hosted and developed in The Hub, the space will provide an opportunity to create a welcoming environment for community members that will support the establishment of trusting and reciprocal relationships between the college and external communities. 

Call for Hub Residency Pilot Proposals

2019-20 Academic Year 

Liberal Arts Engagement Hub Pilot: Hub Residency

While Pillsbury Hall is under construction, the College will launch a pilot Hub that will be housed in nearby Nolte Center during academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21. The pilot will provide temporary space and funding for a Hub residency.

A Hub residency will provide space for public engagement initiatives to faculty, students, staff, and/or community members through an application process for limited periods of time (e.g., a semester during the academic year, a month during the summer, etc.). Those who are granted a residency are required to adopt an ethos of responsibility and custodianship as they care for the physical space and control access to it for the specified period. Unlike the many available classroom spaces on campus, which see the ebb and flow of traffic throughout the day and are booked for one-off events outside of class meeting times, and are primarily owned by the Office of Classroom Management, this space will require an investment of time and energy by its users, a sense of responsibility for a public trust. In addition, at the end of their occupancy of the Hub space, one or more leaders of the residency project will be expected to serve on the Hub Advisory Committee to review future project applications and advise on the Hub’s ongoing operation.

Hub Residency Space

The space offered for Hub residencies will have a similar configuration to what will be constructed in Pillsbury, albeit on a much smaller scale. The pilot space will be located on the first floor of Nolte Center in room 125 and nearby suite 131. 

Room 125 will serve as a larger space for projects and events (over 700 square feet, with 8 tables and 32 chairs that are movable, data projection, screen, and podium) and suite 131 comprises two smaller rooms (each approximately 200 square feet, the size of an 8-person meeting room). Both 125 and 131 can be secured and materials related to the project may be stored in either space. Nolte Center is WiFi enabled and accessible, with close parking and multiple public transportation routes nearby.

Limited funding will also be available for equipment, research assistant support, supplies, and events. Depending on the specific needs of the Hub residency, other Hub-related activities may take place in the residency space, provided that such activities do not interfere with the residency initiative. 

Applying for a Hub Residency 


Applicants can be individual College of Liberal Arts faculty members, instructors, and staff, or community members, as well as departments and collaborative groups (such as Grand Challenges research groups or Interdisciplinary Collaborative Workshops [ICWs] that involve faculty or staff from the College of Liberal Arts). We encourage proposals that centrally involve undergraduate and graduate student participation. Community members and organizations must have a College of Liberal Arts faculty or staff sponsor to facilitate use of the space and other university resources. 


Projects may vary in size, scope, and duration but must, by their nature, necessitate ongoing access to space (that is, proposals should not be for one-time events). They should be collaborative and facilitate reciprocal engagement with community members and groups around topics of important public interest.  

The most competitive projects will be those that align with at least one, and potentially more, of the following purposes:

  • Informing Contemporary Debates
  • Amplifying Community Voices and Histories
  • Helping Individuals and Communities Navigate Difficult Experiences
  • Expanding Educational Access
  • Preserving Culture in Times of Crisis and Change 

Priority will be given to projects that constitute one or both of the following types of engagement:

  • Engaged research—research initiatives in which higher education faculty and students partner with community members in the creation of knowledge
  • Engaged teaching—higher education instruction involving engaged research, teaching, and public programming

How to Apply

To apply for a Hub residency in academic year 2019-20 (which runs August 2019 – July 2020), complete the call for proposals form by May 15, 2019.

You will be required to provide answers for the following questions on the call for proposals form:


A short explanation of who will be involved in the project, their roles, expertise, and University and/or community affiliations.  This can take the form of a prose paragraph or a bulleted list. Please indicate if those who are listed as collaborators have agreed to participate in this project. 

What and Why

A description of 750 words or less explaining the nature and purpose of the project, its impetus, the roles that different participants will play in it, and the proposed outcomes. Please indicate how the space will facilitate the project’s success. Be specific as to whether your project would require the use of both rooms 125 and 131 or just one of them. 


A clear indication of the schedule and duration of the project, including whether it is intended to continue in other forms beyond the period that the space will be available.  Project proposals may request use of the space for a specified period over the summer, a full semester, or a part of a semester. Note: A project may continue beyond the time period provided by the Hub Residency, but it would not have access to the space in Nolte after the residency ends.


A short explanation of resources that you and your group will bring to bear on the project and the additional resources necessary for its success.  Your resources might include one or more of the following:

  • Departmental or organizational funds (including faculty research funds)
  • Faculty, staff, student, and/or community expertise
  • On- or off-campus space 
  • Technology and equipment
  • Grant funding 

You may request up to $15,000 in funding to support such things as hiring a graduate or undergraduate research assistant, or another employee to assist with the project, purchasing supplies, providing catering for events, publicity, compensation for community participants, etc. If requesting funds, please indicate the amount desired, and how it would be allocated. You may also request help from LATIS (Liberal Arts Technologies and Innovation Services) in procuring software and setting up technology.


If you have questions on the Liberal Arts Engagement Hub, the Hub Residency Pilot, or the application process, please contact Amelious Whyte, director of public engagement,