Topic Director, 2025–2026

Topic Director, 2025–2026

Call for Applications

The Wolf Humanities Center solicits applications for the position of Topic Director. The Wolf Humanities Center's Topic Director proposes and develops a topic that engages both scholars and community members, and works with the Wolf Humanities Center director to plan a series of multidisciplinary public programs on the theme. The topic director also helps to lead the Center's weekly research seminar composed of the Wolf Humanities Center's Penn and regional faculty fellows, postdoctoral fellows, and doctoral fellows.

The position official begins July 1, 2025, but the topic director is required to collaborate with the Wolf Humanities Center director a year in advance of the appointment year (i.e. during the 2024-25 academic year) to develop the topic and plan the Center’s public program for 2025-26. 

The applicant must be a tenured associate or full professor in the humanities. Priority will be given to applicants from departments and/or programs other than those recently represented by prior directors. A history of involvement in the Center is considered to be important and useful experience for the topic director. 

The Topic Director will receive a 50% course reduction and a stipend, which can be taken in the form of salary or research funds. For faculty members in small departments where taking a 50% course relief would not be possible, the Wolf Center will be happy to try to work out a workable alternative in conversation with Associate Dean Jeff Kallberg, the department chair, and the applicant. It would be helpful for applicants to discuss the viability of their application with department chairs prior to submitting the application. 

Once appointed, the Topic Director may choose one of the following options:

  • $10,000 stipend + one course release (salary or research fund)
  • $10,000 stipend + one course release ($5000 salary and $5000 research fund)
  • $5000 stipend (salary or research fund) + 2 CU of course relief 

Wolf will pay the topic director's department up to $6500/course (plus EBs) and funds are to be used solely for course replacement during the appointment year. It would be helpful for applicants to discuss the viability of their application with department chairs and with the director of the Wolf Humanities Center prior to applying. 


  • Proposing and developing the 2025-2026 topic
  • Planning the Center’s public program in dialogue with the Center director, and hosting the public events and speaker dinners
  • Participating in the weekly research seminar (Tuesdays, 12:00–1:30pm)
  • Participating in Wolf's fellowship selection committee for two years (2024–25 and 2025–26)


Please send a CV and an application, including the following, as a single PDF to Sara Varney.

  • Abstract of proposed topic that explains the potential of this topic for enriching interdisciplinary humanities-based research (max. 200 words)
  • Please briefly discuss your involvement to date with the Wolf Humanities Center (or Penn Humanities Forum) (max. 50 words)
  • Please describe the kinds of presenters you would be interested in including in the series (max. 100 words)
  • Please discuss how this theme would encourage partnerships within and beyond Penn, and outreach to diverse communities (max. 150 words)
  • Please discuss any ideas you have for alternatives to the traditional lecture format, explaining the advantages of the proposed format (max. 150 words)
  • Please note if you have any leave plans during the 1 year term in question, or if you foresee any other logistical challenges or administrative responsibilities (max. 50 words) 


2019-2020 Forum on Kinship Topic Director Ramya Sreenivasan stands behind a podium dressed in a black banner with white Wolf Humanities Center logo

2019-2020 Forum on Kinship Topic Director Ramya Sreenivasan