Summer Institute on Moby-Dick and the World of Whaling in the Digital Age

The institute will illuminate the art and contexts of Herman Melville’s famous 19th-century American novel Moby-Dick, and help teachers from across the country interpret the book for 21st-century students. The Institute raises important questions about the quest for collective meaning-making that apply to the multiple engagements of learning. We row whaling boats at Mystic Seaport, visit Melville’s Pittsfield home, Arrowhead, and draw on the local resources of New Bedford, including the Whaling Museum’s material artifacts and the port as an active fishery, as we consider together how Melville crafted an epic that resonates richly with readers two hundred years after his birth.

Welcome Introduction to applicants by co-directors Timothy Marr (UNC-Chapel Hill) and Wyn Kelley (MIT).

Please review the eligibility requirements below before beginning your application. Please complete your application HERE. It must be submitted by March 1, 2021. You will be asked to share personal and professional information, upload a three-page CV/resume, and post a 1000-word essay.

Please compose your application essay in a word document as you will be asked to paste it into the application.  The writing should be no longer than 1000 words (approximately four double-spaced pages). It might address the following aspects:
1) your effectiveness and commitment as an educator;
2) your intellectual interests as they relate to the topic of the Institute;
3) special perspectives, skills, or experiences that you could contribute to the   learning community;
4) what you want to accomplish by participating and how it will impact your teaching and service

Please note that all applications submitted for the postponed 2020 Institute will be fully considered for the 2021 Institute, along with new applications received in this cycle.



These projects are designed principally for full-time or part-time teachers and librarians in public, charter, independent, and religiously affiliated schools, as well as home schooling parents. Museum educators and other K-12 school system personnel—such as administrators, substitute teachers, and curriculum developers—are also eligible to participate. At least five institute spaces are reserved for teachers who are new to the profession (those who have been teaching for five years or less)

NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes allow K-12 teachers an opportunity to enrich and revitalize their teaching through the study of humanities topics that bear upon K-12 education. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion of the program, but the programs are not intended to duplicate graduate-level courses.

Participants must be United States citizens, residents of U.S. jurisdictions, or foreign nationals who have been residing in the United States or its territories for at least the three years immediately preceding the application deadline. U.S. citizens teaching abroad at U.S. chartered institutions are also eligible to participate. Foreign nationals teaching abroad are not eligible to participate.

Individuals may not apply to participate in a Summer Seminar or Institute whose director is a family member, who is affiliated with the same institution, who has served as an academic advisor to the applicant, or who has led a previous NEH summer program attended by the applicant.

Each institute allows twenty-five to thirty-six participants (NEH-funded Summer Scholars) to pursue an intensive program of study under a team of scholarly experts, who present a range of perspectives on a humanities topic. Participants and scholars mutually explore connections between scholarship and teaching of the topic.

The Institute will have twenty-five participants. Every applicant will be notified whether they have been selected on Friday, March 26, 2021. Successful applicants must accept or decline their offer no later than Friday, April 2. One a participant has accepted an offer to attend any NEH Summer Program (Seminar, Institute, or Landmarks Workshop), they may not accept an additional offer or withdraw in order to accept a different offer.

In any given year, an individual may apply to two Seminars or Institutes, but may attend only one. Five institute spaces may be reserved for teachers who are new to the profession (those who have been teaching for five years or less).

Participants may not be delinquent in the repayment of federal debt (e.g., taxes, student loans, child support payments, and delinquent payroll taxes for household or other employees). Individuals may not apply to participate in a Summer Seminar or Institute if they have been debarred or suspended by any federal department or agency.


Endowment programs do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or age.  For further information, write to the Equal Opportunity Officer, National Endowment for the Humanities, 400 7th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024.  TDD:  202/606‑8282 (this is a special telephone device for the Deaf).