First-Year Humanities Fellows

The First-Year Humanities Fellows Program leverages students’ passion for literature, philosophy, religion, and languages into an immersive learning experience.

In Fall, all fellows enroll in a shared Gateway seminar that helps them to learn about the history of the university, the purpose of a liberal education, and the relevance of truth, justice, and beauty to their lives.  As part of their Gateway, students travel to the Chicago Humanities Festival, where they examined the notion of the “public good” and the “public intellectual.”

In spring, students will enroll in a credit-bearing course that focuses on experiential learning. This course, which builds upon what students learned in their Gateway, gives students credit for attending lectures, performances, and lunches with authors, and in doing so helps the students to develop a cohesive identity on campus. During spring break, students will participate in the Chicago Humanities Immersion, a five-day trip during which they will observe the humanities in action across all public spheres: theater, film, museum spaces, neighborhoods, walking tours, and public lectures. As a result of these experiences, we hope that the fellows will learn how to become active citizens in the IWU community; create projects grounded in deep reading, careful analysis, and experiential learning; and examine, critique, and propose reforms to the world’s most complex and pressing problems.

The First-Year Humanities Fellows program is a full-year experience. All First-Year Humanities Fellows will be enrolled in one of two Gateway Colloquia in Fall, and will commit to being an active part of the intellectual life on campus through these opportunities:

  • Enroll in a First-Year Humanities Fellows Gateway Colloquia class with either Professor Joanne Diaz or Professor Carolyn Nadeau in Fall

  • Attend a special welcome reception in the School of Art Atrium with IWU President Eric Jensen, Provost and Dean of Faculty Mark Brodl, and professors in the Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Take an active part in IWU’s oldest traditions: President’s Convocation and Founder’s Day Convocation, and attend the luncheons that follow

  • Participate in the Dialogues Across Disciplines program (dedicated to fostering high-level scholarly discussion on campus and student engagement with faculty research) with fellow students and faculty from across campus

  • Engage with prominent scholars, artists, and musicians through dinners, lunches and special events related to the University Intellectual Theme

  • Attend selected events at the Chicago Humanities Festival with faculty (early November)

  • Enroll in a credit-bearing, experience-based course in Spring

  • Participate in the Spring Break Humanities Immersion

  • Receive an $800 Humanities Scholarship. This scholarship will cover the direct charges associated with your Spring Break Humanities Immersion experience


Criteria for admission to the First-Year Humanities program will be based on students’ demonstrated interest in the program.   Admission is based on materials you have already submitted to IWU, together with your brief response to the question in this application form.  Enrollment in this program will be limited to 15-28 students who are dedicated to the program goals.  Students in all majors are invited to apply, as well as those who are undecided.  There is absolutely no fee associated with participation in this program.


Click here to apply.