Public Engagement

With the launch of the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities in 2018, Simmons has an opportunity to show the world what is possible with its longstanding commitment to a transformative education that equips students to become lifelong leaders in their professions and in their communities.

Gwen Ifill '77 '93HD herself is a model of professional excellence, civic engagement, intellectual curiosity, and inclusive community. In the Gwen Ifill College, leaders don’t just make themselves, they make the future.

Now, through generous funding from Simmons alumnae/i, we are able to support faculty efforts to carry on that legacy by connecting their own teaching, scholarship, and creativity to communities in and beyond Boston.

Alumni Chair in Public Engagement

A signature program for how The Gwen Ifill College engages the world and demonstrates the role of the arts, media, and humanities to a vibrant, diverse democracy.

DEADLINE: January 15, 2022 (term: 2022-2027)
APPLICATION: Apply now online 

To serve as an Alumni Chair, Ifill faculty propose a civic or public engagement project, such as deepening mutually beneficial partnerships with local communities, acting as a public intellectual, increasing access to arts and education, addressing underrepresentation in the arts and media, offering public opportunities for civic engagement, or in some way empowering communities to maximize their potential.

Project possibilities are many but the goal is the same: vibrant communities through the best of media, arts, and the humanities. The Alumni Chair program provides faculty with the crucial time and funding to bring public engagement projects to reality. This approach supports direct community impact and fosters students who see themselves as citizens and members of communities.


  • Eligibility: Tenured faculty in Gwen Ifill College. Each chair is open to faculty from any discipline, depending on the nature of the project and how it engages the public.
  • Term: Five years, non-renewable and non-deferrable. Ordinarily, an Alumni Chair cannot be held concurrent with other major roles.
  • Resources: Two course reductions and a project budget of up to 15k per year
  • Application: Project-based applications due Jan 15.
  • Selection criteria: feasibility, ingenuity, public impact, student engagement, and career growth.

Current Alumni Chair

Alumni Chair in Public Humanities (2019-2022)

Laura Prieto, Professor of History and Women's and Gender Studies

Recommended Reading (available in Ifill Dean's Office)

  • Peter Brooks and Hillary Jewett, eds., The Humanities and Public Life (2014)
  • Martha Nussbaum, Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (2010)
  • Doris Sommer, The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities (2014)
  • Randy Stoecker, Liberating Service-Learning and the Rest of Higher Education Civic Engagement (2016)
  • Michelle May Curry, Humanities for All Project Director, "Trends in the Publicly Engaged Humanities in a Pandemic Moment"