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The next Religious Worlds of New York summer institute will meet from July 8 – 26, 2024, at Union Theological Seminary in the Manhattan neighborhood of Morningside Heights.  Applications for the 2024 institute are now closed, but if you’d like to learn about future Religious Worlds institutes and other religious diversity education programs, please click here to join the Interfaith Center of New York’s email list.

This page contains the NEH and Religious Worlds eligibility criteria, selection criteria, conditions of participation, principles of civility, application timeline, and application requirements.  Some details on this page are specific to our 2024 institute, but much of the information will be relevant for future institutes as well.


Eligibility Criteria

NEH-funded summer institutes are professional development programs that convene K-12 educators (or in some cases higher education faculty) from across the nation to deepen their understanding of significant topics in the humanities and enrich their capacity for effective teaching.

NEH-funded summer institutes are designed for a national audience of full- or part-time K-12 educators who teach in public, charter, independent, and religiously affiliated schools, or as home schooling educators.  Project directors may also admit a limited number of educators who work outside the K-12 classroom, and can demonstrate that their participation will advance project goals and enhance their professional work.

You are eligible to apply for an NEH-funded summer institute if you are a: 

  • United States citizen, including those teaching abroad at U.S. chartered institutions and schools operated by the federal government; 
  • resident of U.S. jurisdictions; or 
  • foreign national who has been residing in the United States or its jurisdictions for at least the three years immediately preceding the application deadline. 

You are not eligible to apply for an NEH-funded summer institute if you: 

  • are a foreign national teaching abroad 
  • are related to the project director(s) 
  • are affiliated with the applicant institution (employees, currently enrolled students, etc.) 
  • have been taught or advised in an academic capacity by the project director(s) 
  • are delinquent in the repayment of federal debt (taxes, student loans, child support payments, and delinquent payroll taxes for household or other employees) 
  • have been debarred or suspended by any federal department or agency 
  • have attended a previous NEH professional development project (Seminars, Landmarks, or Institutes) led by the project director(s) 

NEH does not require participants to have earned an advanced degree.

In any given year, an individual may attend only one NEH-funded Institute or Landmarks workshop.  Participants may not accept an additional offer or withdraw in order to accept a different offer once they have accepted an offer to attend an NEH-funded program.  NEH-funded programs do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or age.

To be considered for selection, applicants must submit a complete application as defined below on this page. Any questions about applications should be directed to the individual project team.  Click here to find these eligibility criteria on the NEH website.

In addition to these NEH eligibility criteria, COVID vaccination is required for all participants in the Religious Worlds institute, with the exception of those who have documented medical conditions that preclude vaccination.  Click here for more details about our COVID safety policies.


Selection Criteria

The Religious Worlds institute is open to classroom teachers from public, private, and faith-based schools, as well as school leaders, librarians, other school-based educators, and a limited number of educators working in nonprofit organizations, libraries, or other settings.  Applicants who are not classroom teachers should use their application essay to describe how their work in the institute will impact teaching and learning in their school and/or community.

The institute is open to all K-12 teachers, but our conversations will primarily be orien­ted towards middle- and high school curricula.  Elementary school teachers who are interested in participating should use their application essay to explain how the institute’s focus on “lived religion” will contribute to their teaching on religious diversity.

We welcome applications from teachers who teach (or plan to teach) about religious diversity in a wide range of curricula, including stand-alone compar­ative religion courses, as well as courses in global studies, world history, American history, literature, philosophy, the arts, and other fields.

Teachers at faith-based schools in all traditions are more than welcome to apply, but the institute is designed to support the secular, academic study of religion, rather than courses focused on devotional practice or faith formation.  For example, we would welcome an applica­tion from a Catholic school religion teacher who teaches (or plans to teach) a course on world religions or comparative social ethics, but a teacher who only teaches courses on Catholic theology or church history would not likely benefit from the Religious Worlds institute.

We welcome applications from teachers of all religious and secular backgrounds — you don’t need to be religious to apply!  The institute is focused on the academic study of religion, not the religious or spiritual lives (if any) of our summer scholars.

Above all, we welcome applications from teachers who are willing to ex­periment­ with the lived religion pedagogies the in­stitute will model.  Applicants do not need any previous experience teaching about religion, but they must have future plans to do so, as well as an interest in enriching the conventional “world relig­ions” curriculum through the study of contemporary religious life.

At least five of the twenty-five spaces in the institute will be reserved for teachers who have been teaching for five years or less.  Past participants in NEH summer programs are eligible to apply, but first consideration will be given to applicants who have not previously attended an NEH seminar or institute.  When choices must be made between equally qualified candidates, preference will be given to candidates who would enhance the diversity of our learning community.


Stipend and Conditions

All participants in the Religious Worlds institute (and other 3-week, residential NEH summer programs) receive a stipend of $2,850.  The stipend provides compensation to participants for their time commitment, and helps to defray participation costs such as travel, lodging, and meals.  Participants are required to cover their own costs for travel, lodging, and meals, and will be reimbursed (at least in part) by the stipend.  The stipend is considered taxable income.  Click here for more details about these stipends, and the expectations that accompany them.

As per NEH policy, the Religious Worlds institute will not reduce participant stipends for project-related activities, lodging, or other costs without participants’ prior approval.  However, for those summer scholars who choose to stay in on-campus housing, we will deduct a portion of your stipend (with your written agreement) to make advance payment for housing.  We will not place any contingencies (such as completing a curriculum development project or program evaluation) on the receipt of participant stipends.

Applicants who accept an offer to participate are expected to remain during the entire period of the program and to participate in its work on a full-time basis.  If a participant is obliged through special circumstances to arrive after the beginning or depart before the end of the Institutes or Landmarks program, it shall be the recipient institution’s responsibility to see that only a pro rata share of the stipend is received or that the appropriate pro rata share of the stipend is returned if the participant has already received the full stipend.

Upon successful completion of the Religious Worlds institute, participants will be eligible to receive three graduate credits from Union Theological Seminary (equivalent to a semester-length course).  Summer scholars will need to pay UTS fees for these credits, and the NEH does not provide funding for these costs.  Click here for more details about these credits.


Principles of Civility

NEH summer programs are intended to extend and deepen knowledge and understanding of the humanities by focusing on significant topics, texts, and issues; contribute to the intellectual vitality and professional development of participants; and foster a community of inquiry that provides models of excellence in scholarship and teaching.

NEH expects that project directors, faculty members, and participants will take responsibility for encouraging an ethos of openness and respect, upholding the basic norms of civil discourse.  All institute presentations and discussions (including discussions in online forums) should be:

  • firmly grounded in rigorous scholarship and thoughtful analysis
  • conducted without partisan advocacy
  • respectful of divergent views
  • free of ad hominem commentary
  • devoid of bias based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, or other criteria of identity

Click here to find these principles of civility on the NEH website.  NEH welcomes comments, concerns, or suggestions on these principles by email at

These principles are particularly relevant to the Religious Worlds institute, as our work together will touch on politically charged questions about religious diversity, religious liberty, and the role of religion in public life.  The institute director, faculty, and staff will work to create an environment for respectful discussion of these issues, and we expect our summer scholars to do the same.


Application Timeline and Materials

Applications to the Religious Worlds institute are due by 11:59 pm PT, on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.  Applicants will be notified of the admission committee’s decisions on Friday, April 5, 2024.  If you are admitted, you will have until Friday, April 19, 2024 to accept or decline the offer of admission.  Once an applicant has accepted an offer to attend any NEH summer program, they may not accept an additional offer or withdraw in order to accept a different offer.

Application materials should be submitted through this Google Form, with the exception of a reference letter which your referee must email to by the application deadline.  Do not send your application to NEH — applications sent to NEH will not be reviewed.  A complete application consists of the following four items:

  • basic information about you and your teaching, provided on the Google Form
  • a resume or curriculum vitae (not to exceed three pages) detailing your educational qualifications and professional experience
  • an application essay, described in more detail below
  • a confiden­tial letter of reference, described in more detail below

Your resume and essay can be uploaded through the Google Form, or imported from Google Drive.  Your reference letter must be emailed by your referee to maintain confidentiality.  Applications without all four components will be considered incomplete, and will not be reviewed.


Application Essay

Your application essay should be no more than four double‑spaced pages.  The essay should address:

  • your reasons for applying to the Religious Worlds institute, including your interest in the subject of religious diversity, and its significance to your school and/or community
  • your effectiveness and commitment as an educator, including any professional experience in diversity education, community-based education, or other areas relevant to the institute
  • any special perspectives, skills, or experiences that would allow you to make a distinctive contribution to the institute’s learning community
  • above all, evidence that participation in the institute will have a long-term impact on your teaching, including discussion of any specific courses or programs that will be enriched by your participation

Applicants do not need to have any previous experience teaching about religion, but they do need to have future plans to do so, as well as an interest in enriching the conventional “world relig­ions” curriculum through the study of contemporary religious life.  Your essay should demonstrate this potential for curricular innova­tion.


Reference Letter

One confidential letter of reference must be emailed by your referee to by the March 5 application deadline.  If possible, this letter should be written by a senior colleague or administrator at your school or institution (eg, your department chair, principal, or supervisor).  It should speak to your qualifications as an educator and scholar, as well as your school or institution’s support for your teaching on religious diversity.


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).

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