College of Liberal Arts

You must describe the Header Image here

Official Statement of Solidarity (6/5/20): A collectively authored statement from the current ESI Fellows & program staff.

Program Information


Qualifications & Eligibility



Fall 2021 Application Overview

Engagement signifies many things: commitment, attachment, participation, employment, activity, unity, interconnection, and mutuality. The Engaged Scholar Initiative at The University of Texas at Austin celebrates interdisciplinary research as a dynamic and evolving conversation about humanity and society in the Twenty-First Century. Intellectual alliances, cross-pollinating ideas, renewed and re-imagined partnerships are desired scholarly and communal goals for the present and the future, and will be the undertaking of the graduate and undergraduate ESI fellows. The ESI Fellows are mutual celebrants of the world of knowledge, culture, history, politics, ethics, the arts and languages, and the imagination. The ESI project aspires to amplify the educational resources available to the Ph.D. and undergraduate fellows beyond the parameters of their traditional research disciplines, in order to increase the benefits to the scholars and the communities in which they work and live.

What is asked of the ESI Fellow? A commitment to creative and risk-taking research; an inclination toward affiliation and translation; a vibrant sense of civic and intellectual engagement; and a shared endeavor to make public-facing scholarship a mission of generosity and conviction.

Research Environment

The Engaged Scholar Initiative: A Texas Model (ESI) aims to honor the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s visionary goals of enhancing and further expanding the relationships between public universities and communities in the United States. The ESI project provides doctoral students working in the Humanities and Humanities’ undergraduate students’ opportunities to work in concert with communities and public institutions, and share scholarly research. The ESI Undergraduate scholars will partner with the graduate cohort and benefit from instructive mentorship and mutual scholarly collaboration. ESI applicants should be independent-minded and invested in teamwork, committed to intellectual inquiry and public-spirited, research-oriented and ethically invested in the greater good.

Photogrammetry workshop with Castellano

ESI undergraduate fellows have the opportunity to gain new skills in workshops led by our graduate fellows




Capstone Project

The Capstone Project for graduating ESI fellows will be individually tailored to each undergraduate ESI fellow’s specific needs and circumstances. For example, ESI students who are additionally writing senior or honors theses can coordinate research interests and efforts. In some cases, the undergraduate ESI fellow’s Capstone Project might be in support of a doctoral ESI fellow’s public-facing project. An undergraduate ESI fellow’s Capstone Project might also involve a community service element. The boundaries for the Capstone Project are deliberately open, broad, and flexible; the cultural, scholarly, and social commitments of the undergraduate ESI fellow will determine the nature of his or her individual ideals as a Humanities scholar and citizen. For more detail on the Capstone Project click here. You can also check out our Twitter @UTMellonESI for examples of past Capstones.

Please note that for the 2021-2022 academic year, we are accepting applications for one-year ESI fellowships only. This means that all seniors who begin the fellowship in August 2021 will be expected to complete their Capstone project by no later than July 2022.

Prospective ESI Fellows do not need to know exactly what their Capstone will be when they apply; if accepted, each scholar will work closely with the Program Coordinators in the fall to research and design a project. However, we have found that students are most successful when they come into the program with a clear sense of the challenges they wish to address and/or potential community partners they hope to work with.

Please note that the Capstone project is a significant commitment of time and energy. You will be expected to work with Dr. Egan to develop and implement a project timeline.

Qualifications & Eligibility

ESI Undergraduate Applicant Qualifications:
  • Minimum of a 3.2 G.P.A.
  • Senior class standing by Fall 2021.
  • Preference for applicants who are College of Liberal Arts students majoring in Humanities or Humanistic Social Science disciplines.
  • Must be able to commit to the ESI Fellowship expectations (see below).

ESI Fellowship Expectations:

Please note that the ESI program and the yearlong Capstone project require a significant commitment of time and energy. Although it is often possible to streamline the Capstone with thesis requirements or other extracurricular commitments, students are sometimes surprised by the time it takes to conduct community-engaged research and to build meaningful relationships with community partners. During the fall semester, ESI Fellows can expect to attend regular workshops, seminars, and speaker events designed to introduce scholars to the fundamentals of community-engaged research. Students will also work closely with Dr. Egan and their graduate mentors throughout the fall to design an individualized schedule for implementing their Capstone project. In the spring, work on the Capstone project will begin in earnest. All ESI Fellows will present on their work at our Capstone Showcase event in early May 2022; the Capstone project itself must be completed by no later than July.

We expect ESI Fellows to be actively involved in our scholarly community and to take full advantage of the individualized and peer mentorship opportunities the program offers. We recommend that all prospective applicants carefully assess their workload to determine if they can make this commitment.

The fellowship expectations include:

  • Regularly prepare for and attend* seminars and workshops (roughly 3 per month, with light assigned readings)
  • Meet with the Program Coordinator or graduate mentor at least once per month throughout the academic year
  • Make timely progress on Capstone project, meeting all major deadlines:
    • Submit Capstone proposal and project timeline by December 2021
    • Present at Capstone Showcase event in May 2022
    • Complete Capstone project and reflection letter by July 2022


Undergraduate ESI applicants must submit a completed application, with all of the required components by or before the application deadline. A select number of highly qualified applicants will be forwarded to the interview stage of the application process; the cohort of undergraduate ESI fellows will be chosen from the interview pool.

Applicants must submit the following items:

  • Undergraduate Engaged Scholar Application Form
  • Application Essay (limit: 2 pages)
  • Resume or Curriculum Vita (limit: 1 page)
  • Sample Paper: scholarly essay written for a class at The University of Texas at Austin
  • Faculty letter of recommendation

All application materials are due by Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.


ESI Undergraduate Fellowship Award:
Yearly stipend: $4,500
Research stipend: up to $2,000

Research funds can be used to attend an academic conference, independently or with an ESI graduate fellow; the funds can additionally be used to support fellows’ additional research-oriented needs.


Program Application 2021
ESI Reimbursement Guidelines
ESI Travel Reimbursement Form