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Press Release for Tuesday, August 4, 2015

UNF History Professor Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

Dr. David Courtwright, a University of North Florida history professor, was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant, which was designed to bring humanities scholarship into book clubs and onto best-seller lists.

The NEH awarded a total of $1.7 million in grants for 36 nonfiction book projects. Courtwright’s award was among the first made under NEH’s new Public Scholar Program, which was created in 2014 as part of “The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square,” an agency-wide initiative that seeks to bring humanities into the public square and foster innovative ways to make scholarship relevant to contemporary life.

“NEH Public Scholar books will make important and exciting discoveries in fields such as history, literature, linguistics and archaeology accessible to readers everywhere and will serve as an example of how humanities scholarship can benefit the common good,” said William Adams, NEH chairman.

Courtwright, an Arlington resident, will use the NEH funding to complete a book about “very bad habits,” from alcoholism and drug abuse to junk food and Internet addiction. It will chronicle the rise of abusive consumption and addiction in modern life and of the global economic systems that have enabled them.

“The idea is to pull together economics and neuroscience as well as history,” he said. “The new NEH program is about supporting interdisciplinary humanities scholarship and making it accessible to everyone.”

The grant program offers a maximum stipend of $50,400 for a 12-month period and is available to researchers, independent scholars and individuals associated with scholarly institutions. For this first round of the competition, applicants were required to have previously published a book with a university or commercial press, or articles and essays that reached a wide readership.

In 2001, Courtwright published “Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World,” an academic best-seller that was subsequently translated into several languages, including three Chinese editions. He’s also authored “No Right Turn: Conservative Politics in a Liberal America” and “Dark Paradise: A History of Opiate Addiction in America,” to name a few.

A UNF faculty member since 1988, Courtwright received his doctorate from Rice University and was a Mellon visiting faculty fellow at Yale University. Before coming to UNF, he taught at the University of Hartford. He has received numerous honors, including the John A. Delaney Presidential Professorship, Outstanding Scholarship Award, Distinguished Professor Award, Outstanding Faculty Scholarship and Students’ Choice Teaching Award.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the NEH supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the NEH and its grant program can be found at

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.