Research Theme for AY 2020-2021

Request for Proposals: Race and Ethnicity in the United States


The Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts conducts yearly grant competitions that focus on particular research themes of timely importance to society.  We are pleased to announce that the theme for Academic Year 2020-21 is Race and Ethnicity in the United States.

The global COVID pandemic, disturbing instances of police violence, political polarization, and protests across the country and around the world have brought discussions of racism and racial/ethnic inequality into the national conversation in a way not seen since the civil rights era.  Informed by Notre Dame’s mission to be a powerful force for good, ISLA seeks to facilitate student and faculty engagement with questions raised by these events and the longer histories that inform them by sponsoring new scholarship that explores race and ethnicity in the United States.  Such work is vital to developing a deeper understanding of our society and how we can make it more just.

Purpose. These grants will support student and faculty research and creative projects that focus on race and ethnicity in American history, culture, and/or contemporary society. While race and ethnicity constitute the major focus of funded projects, we encourage proposals that incorporate innovative analyses of intersecting topics such as class, gender, and religion. Proposals that take an international or comparative approach are also welcome, provided that the project includes a significant component dedicated to understanding issues of race and ethnicity within the US. Proposals may use any methodological or analytic framework to achieve their goals (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, literary, artistic, etc.). It is generally expected that projects can be completed within 12-18 months.

Eligibility. This competition is open to students enrolled in Ph.D., DMA, and MFA programs as well as all regular faculty members with a primary appointment in the College of Arts and Letters.  Students must be in good standing with The Graduate School.

Eligible Expenses. Applicants may request up to $5,000.  Eligible expenses include research and creative arts materials needed to directly support the completion of the project, editorial and transcription services, remote archive/library assistance, survey and computer programming support, and human subject payments. Funds cannot be used for applicant salary/stipend, travel, room and board, professional development activities, office supplies, or computer equipment. 

Required Application Materials. All applicants must submit the following materials

  • A 100-word project summary written for a broad audience.  This summary will assist with reviewer selection and public communications regarding funded projects.
  • A project proposal (max. 1000 words) that outlines the project’s purpose, research plan, intellectual contribution, and potential benefits to society. 
  • A project timeline identifying key goals and targeted completion dates (max. 1 page). 
  • An itemized budget and narrative budget justification (max. 1 page). 

Graduate student applications must also include an advisor's letter of recommendation (max. 2 pages). This letter should specifically address the student’s ability to undertake and complete the proposed project as well as the project’s connection to the student’s broader scholarly interests, trajectory, and career goals.

Evaluation Criteria. Applications will be evaluated on their intellectual merit, broader impacts, financial need/justification, and the researcher’s qualifications to conduct the proposed work. Priority will be given to proposals that explore creative, original, and potentially transformative ideas and approaches.  Budget items with insufficient justification may be reduced or eliminated in an award offer.

Proposal Preparation and Submission. All proposals should be double-spaced, with one-inch margins and 12-point Times New Roman font.  Up to two critical figures, illustrations, or images may be included to supplement the project narrative.  Applications will be considered on a rolling basis throughout the academic year beginning September 15, 2020 and continuing until allocated funds for this RFP are exhausted.   

Questions and Additional Information.  Please direct questions and requests for additional information regarding this RFP to the director of the Race and Ethnicity in the United States Grant Program, Dr. Jay David Miller.

Submit an Application