How to Apply: Shakespeare and the Making of America

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2020 Teaching Shakespeare Institute

Applications to Shakespeare and the Making of America are due by March 1, 2020.

Who Can Apply

The National Endowment for the Humanities makes clear who is eligible to apply for their programs for schoolteachers, including Shakespeare and the Making of America. Here is their language:
“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. 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. Foreign nationals teaching abroad at non-U.S. chartered institutions are not eligible to apply. 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).”
Within those eligibility guidelines, the Folger seeks participants who:
  • are intellectually curious and passionate about Shakespeare, literature, and history
  • are committed and passionate about their work in general
  • are open-minded souls who are eager to learn: looking to improve their humanities knowledge and ultimately their teaching practice
  • are good collaborators who will dive into all aspects of the program
  • have not participated in a previous NEH seminar or institute 
  • perhaps have not participated in a number of other “deep dive” learning experiences
From applicants who fit that criteria, we seek to put together a community of participants who represent (in no particular order):
  • a mix of rural, suburban, and urban schools across the country 
  • a mix of public, independent, religious, charter, and home schools
  • diversity in years of teaching experience
  • diversity in the kinds of students you teach
  • racial, ethnic, religious, and gender diversity

Two Commonly Asked Questions About Applying

Do I Need To Be A Shakespeare Expert In Order To Apply?  Heavens, no! You need to be hungry and open-minded and eager. You also need to know why you want to be a part of this Institute and be able to tell us.

How Rigorous Is It, Really?  The work is fast-paced, exhilarating, and challenging—and there are moments when it can be overwhelming too. Our theory is this: you and your work (and your students) are so important to us that in practically every moment, we want to offer you experience, opportunities, new horizons that you can’t get anywhere else, at any other time. During this summer especially, we will be breaking new ground together—a wildly exciting prospect. 

You may be looking for a program in which there is lots of time to reflect, to see the sights in a leisurely fashion, to get a well-deserved break from your busy teaching year...these are all absolutely worthy and important goals. If they are your goals, though, I’d say that this is not Institute for you.

How Do I Apply, and What Happens After That?

  1. Read through the application questions before you start so you’ll know what’s coming. In brief, we ask you for the following:
    • Your contact information and some basics about your work (Where? Who? For how long?)  
    • A 2-page resume (to be uploaded) 
    • Two letters of recommendation (to be submitted directly via email)
    • Answers to seven questions about your interest and classroom experience
  2. Submit your Google Form application with attached resumé no later than March 1, 2020. Let your referees know that they need to submit their letters by March 1, 2020, too—to


NOTE #1: We will notify all applicants of their status on Friday, March 27, 2020. If you are an accepted applicant, you will have until Friday, April 3, 2020, to either accept or decline our offer. If you choose to decline, we will go to our list of alternates.
NOTE #2: Once you have accepted an offer to attend an NEH summer seminar or institute, you may not accept an additional offer or withdraw to accept a different offer.

DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT ANYTHING?  Please reach out to Peggy O’Brien at