FINAL Deadline for proposals is September 30, 2018  

The University Seminars 75th Anniversary Subcommittee is now soliciting proposals for essays for our upcoming Columbia University Press volume, tentatively titled: Keeping Speech Free: The University Seminars and the Preservation of Conversation

As you consider your proposals, please keep the following in mind:

  • Your Keeping Speech Free essays, of 4,000 to 7,000 words apiece, should speak to the basic ideas that undergird the Seminars. We want to know about the origins, context and evolution of your seminars. 

  • We are not commissioning cut-and-dried histories. Rather, we anticipate stories about why and how certain seminars came into being, why they still exist, and why they matter. They should speak to what one of our ranks described as their “trans-conversational nature, for the benefit of the larger public.” We are, in short, requesting intellectual excursions, much like the seminars themselves. 

  • We want to hear from as many of you as possible. Keeping Speech Free should use a blend and balance of subjects across the humanities, the social sciences, the natural sciences and their multiple intersections. The book will also range from the earliest Seminars to those of more recent vintage. By way of linking the essays we ask each author to respond to the question: “What have you learned from the past and how the ‘lessons learned’ shape your approach toward the future?”


  • The University Seminars Digital Archive PLEASE NOTE: While we are striving to open access remotely, The University Seminars Digital Archive is currently available only on dedicated laptops in The Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 6th floor of Butler, and by appointment only. If you are local, please do visit the archive at Butler. If you are unable to work on campus and require remote access in order to write your essay proposal, please email Summer Hart: She will contact the library on your behalf. Include your full name, seminar #, UNI, and reason for requesting remote access.

To propose a new seminar, please complete the form below.

Before you begin, please take a moment to look at the list of all University Seminars:

If there is another seminar already on the subject you are proposing, please address this in your letter. It is possible to have multiple seminars in a particular field as long as the approach or subject matter differs enough from the existing seminar to qualify as a new seminar.

All seminars must include participants from more than one department, and from outside Columbia.  Members (from Columbia), and associate members (from elsewhere), must have PhD’s or equivalent expertise. Some seminars admit selected graduate students as guests; some do not.

Before you begin, please review the following:

 University Seminars Conference Guidelines and Procedures

Download and complete the following required forms:

Conference Budget Worksheet
Conference Funding Agreement

Schoff publication funds can be used for indexing, translating, technical editing, illustrating, or other publication costs of manuscripts or monographs produced under the auspices of The University Seminars in the fields of economics, sociology, psychology, penology, or the behavioral sciences which have already been approved for publication. Other funds are sometimes available in other fields, including the sciences.    

Before applying, the following two conditions must be met:

  • The book or article must be accepted by a peer-reviewed academic publisher. The alternatives of self-publication and print-on-demand publication need to be justified to the Committee and may be recommended for consideration as an exceptional case by the Advisory Board.

  • Some or all of the publication was influenced by participation in a University Seminar; a portion of the work was presented and discussed at a University Seminar, and that discussion affected the book.

The University Seminars’ Schoff Committee considers the value of the book and its involvement with a seminar in comparison with other requests. Funding requests are subject to the following priorities:

  • Books produced entirely as a University Seminar's project, e.g., a conference or symposium.   

  • Monographs by regular University Seminar participants, including chairs and co-chairs, of which some part was presented and discussed at a University Seminar meeting.       

  • Monographs including materials presented and discussed by a speaker at a University Seminar meeting.

  • The Committee will consider works by a seminar's rapporteur where the work was clearly influenced by participation in the seminar. 

The Committee can usually respond within a month. If funding is awarded, bills should be sent directly to The University Seminars as invoices. Reimbursements to the author are often impossible.

Upon publication, the University Seminars requests the following:

1.) Acknowledgement

Please acknowledge the Schoff Fund at the University Seminars in either of these forms or with similar wording:

  • “The (editor)/(author) expresses appreciation to the Schoff Fund at the University Seminars at Columbia University for their help in publication. Material in this work was presented to the University Seminar: [NAME OF SEMINAR.]"

  • “The (editor)/(author) expresses appreciation to the Schoff Fund at the University Seminars at Columbia University for their help in publication.The ideas presented have benefited from discussions in the University Seminar on [NAME OF SEMINAR.]"

2.) Archival Copies

Please send two complimentary copies of the final publication to The University Seminars for archival purposes. We suggest you include this in your agreement with the publisher.

Upon acceptance, please review the University Seminars guidelines for Vendors/Payment.

Columbia University / The University Seminars