Research Innovation Labs

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Deadline: February 13, 2024

Funding Amount: $15,000 per year plus course releases for PIs


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The College of Arts and Letters and the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts (ISLA) invite proposals for an inaugural cluster of Research Innovation Labs, to begin work during the 2024-2025 academic year.

In order to provide leadership in advancing thoughtful answers to the world’s urgent questions, the College of Arts & Letters is establishing Research Innovation Labs. These labs encourage collaborative research outside of departmental and institutional confines so that participants can radically reimagine the way their work can inform, influence, and inspire innovative scholarship. Each Research Innovation Lab will consist of a group of scholars pursuing a core question (or small set of closely related questions) collaboratively and from transdisciplinary perspectives. Labs will foster research, teaching, and outreach, deepening connections across disciplines, and bringing the insights of the liberal arts to public life.

Research Innovation Labs will take two forms: Humanities Research Labs, devoted to “big questions” in the humanities approached from transdisciplinary perspectives, and Strategic Theme Labs, open to all college disciplines, addressing research questions related to the campus-wide strategic themes of poverty, democracy, and ethics.

To investigate these questions and themes, labs may engage in a wide variety of activities, including but not limited to public events and exhibitions, scholarly publications, digital resources, and course development. For examples of similar research labs in the liberal arts at other institutions, see:


Each Research Innovation Lab will be awarded:

  • Two course releases (one for each PI) to be used during the two-year grant period

  • A research grant of $15,000 per year for two consecutive years, with the possibility of renewal for a third year

  • Access to a new Project Studio space in the ISLA suite (356 O’Shaughnessy Hall), including staff scheduling support for this and other college meeting spaces



  • Each lab must have two Principal Investigators (PIs).

    • Both PIs must be regular, tenure-track or tenured faculty with primary appointments in the College of Arts and Letters.

    • The two PIs may not have primary appointments in the same department or program.

  • Each lab must also name at least three additional collaborators.

    • Collaborators may be advanced graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, or regular faculty members with any appointment at the University of Notre Dame. They may come from any college, school, or institute within the university.

    • Representatives from local community organizations may also be named as collaborators.


Evaluation criteria:

Applications will be evaluated by an interdisciplinary faculty committee in four key areas:

  • Interdisciplinarity

Successful proposals will outline truly interdisciplinary projects that define questions and topics not easily examined from one set of methods or perspectives.

  • Collaboration

Successful proposals will provide evidence of equitable collaboration in the design and conception of the laboratory.

  • Excellence

Successful proposals will demonstrate the scholarly rigor and innovative nature of the research questions and methods proposed, making clear how the lab will build upon the unique strengths of Notre Dame and the assembled team.

  • Impact

Successful proposals will show how the laboratory will have a significant impact for a variety of scholarly fields, the university, and the wider public.


ISLA will host an informational webinar for all interested faculty on November 17, 2023 at noon. For questions about this program, or for help preparing a proposal, contact Josh Tychonievich (, Research Development Program Director at ISLA. 


Allowable costs include travel expenses, materials, catering, honoraria for guests, payments to external consultants, and production costs for publications, exhibits, novel forms of research dissemination, etc.

Non-allowable costs include software already made accessible to the Notre Dame community and salary or additional course releases for PIs.

PIs must submit a report on all activities by June 1 of each funded year. Failure to submit this report may delay available funds for subsequent year(s) and affect PI eligibility for other ISLA grants.

Note that documented IRB approval (or exemption) is required for all research involving human subjects.

All projects must follow all relevant college and university policies and procedures.


Application Instructions

All text documents should be single- or double-spaced, at least 11-point font, Times New Roman or Arial, with one-inch margins.

  1. Application form (available through Submittable)

  1. Project Narrative (no more than three pages)

In addition to addressing the evaluation criteria listed above, the narrative should address each of the following, using items a, b, and c below as subheadings:

    1. Questions, Concepts, and Methods

Outline the key questions at the heart of the proposed lab and the concepts and methods that will guide the pursuit of these questions.

    1. Significance and Impact

Outline the potential impact the proposed lab will have for interdisciplinary scholarship, the university, and human flourishing more broadly.

    1. Goals and Potential Products

While it is understood that discussions among the team of a funded lab may lead to changes in the original plan, each proposal should include some discussion of the scholarly products (broadly conceived) that a lab might yield.

  1. List of PIs and Collaborators (no more than two pages)

For each member of the team, include the name, appointment, department/program, and a brief description of each member’s relevant qualifications and contributions to the lab. Note that each lab must include at least two PIs (from different departments) and at least three additional collaborators.

  1. Budget justification (no more than two pages)

Provide a brief rationale for including each expense listed in your budget. Where appropriate, include sources for estimates.

  1. Budget (no more than two pages)

Provide a fully itemized budget, including all planned expenses up to $15,000 per year for two years. Course releases for PIs need not be included in the budget. Budget adjustments will be considered as needed on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Short CVs for each PI (no more than three pages each)

Applications must be submitted through ISLA’s Submittable portal by 11:59 p.m. on February 13, 2024. Late submissions or submissions submitted via email will not be accepted. Decisions will be announced in March.


Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Can TPAC faculty be PIs?

Generally, PIs must be tenured or tenure-line faculty with a primary appointment in the College of Arts and Letters. If you are a TPAC faculty member interested in serving as PI for a lab, reach out to ISLA’s director, Kate Marshall.


  1. Can a Research Innovation Lab include faculty at other universities?

Currently, formal collaborators for a lab must be affiliated with the University of Notre Dame or a local, community organization. ISLA welcomes projects with the potential for broader growth.


  1. Are contributions to teaching or curriculum necessary for broader impacts?

No. A lab proposal may demonstrate broader impact in many different ways. For help developing the broader impact for your lab proposal, contact the Center for Broader Impacts here at Notre Dame.


  1. Will this funding opportunity be available for additional cycles after this year?

During this initial pilot phase, ISLA plans to invite proposals for new Research Innovation Labs each year for three years (2024, 2025, and 2026).


  1. Does a lab need to generate external grant applications to receive funding?

No. The potential for external funding to support the longevity of a lab could be one way to demonstrate impact in your proposal, but the promise of external funding is not a requirement for a lab to receive ISLA funding.


  1. Is there a particular hierarchy among the evaluation criteria?

Research Innovation Lab proposals are evaluated on four criteria: Interdisciplinarity, Collaboration, Excellence, and Impact. No one criterion is weighted heavily than the others. We hope that the strongest proposals will be strong in all four areas.


  1. Can Notre Dame staff be part of the teams?

Notre Dame staff may be formal collaborators, but they may not serve as PIs.


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