University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
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Call for Proposals:
University of Minnesota–Social Science Research Council
Interdisciplinary Dissertation Proposal Development Program

For UMN Social Science and Humanities Graduate Students

The IAS announces the inaugural year competition for the Interdisciplinary Dissertation Proposal Development program as part of the Capacity Building for 21st-Century Scholarship Dissertation Proposal Development training program made possible by a grant from the Social Science Research Council, with funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Twelve University of Minnesota social science and humanities PhD students will be selected to participate in the 2017 program. The program involves two interdisciplinary, faculty-led training workshops as well as exploratory summer research. The SSRC covers all travel and lodging costs associated with the Spring and Fall workshops in addition to stipends of up to $5,000 for summer research and living expenses.

Applications are due Monday, March 13, 2017. Students will be notified of acceptance by April 3. Application form is here. Please note that you cannot partially complete the form and save it for later. Use the questions below to prepare your answers before you start the form.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants must currently be pre-ABD* students matriculated in a PhD program in the social sciences or humanities at the University of Minnesota, most likely in their second year.
    • Progress within the graduate program:
      Applicants must be planning to submit dissertation research grant applications for external funding (e.g. NSF, SSRC, NEH, Wenner-Gren, Spencer Foundation, Fulbright, Woodrow Wilson, Mellon) for fall 2017 or early 2018 deadlines.
    • Applicants must be on track to complete dissertation proposals after the fall workshop but before the end of the 2017-2018 academic year.
  • Awardees are obligated to attend two intensive workshops, one in spring (June 7-11, 2017, Pittsburgh, PA) and one in fall (September 13-17, 2017, Minneapolis, MN), and to spend summer 2017 conducting at least six weeks of summer exploratory research or other intellectual work aimed at developing their dissertation proposal.
  • Students who have already submitted dissertation proposals to their departments for approval or to funding agencies for support of their dissertation research are not eligible to apply.

*In special circumstances, students who are recently ABD and have not yet submitted their dissertation proposals may apply, but only with a letter of explanation and endorsement from their advisor.

Selection Criteria

Applications to the DPD program competition will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Potential significance of the dissertation topic.
  • Applicant’s readiness for proposal development.
  • Interest in and potential benefit from engaging with other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.
  • Connection between summer work plans and proposal development.

The advisors of those selected for the DPD program will be expected to participate in a meeting prior to the June workshop and an evaluation after the September workshop, when the student has completed a draft dissertation proposal. We encourage you to discuss this expectation with your advisor in advance.

Application Information

Applications will be submitted online via Google forms. Prepare the following materials.

Information about Proposed Dissertation Project

  • Introduce your dissertation project for an academic reader who is unfamiliar with your particular topic, region of study, and disciplinary approach. What is the central research question, problem, or puzzle that you want to investigate? Why is your project important? (up to 400 words)
  • How do you expect your dissertation project can draw from and contribute to existing literature about the topic in a novel or interesting way? (up to 400 words)
  • List up to 20 scholarly publications or texts that have most significantly informed the formulation of your research topic, questions, theories, and methods.
  • What sources, sites, and/or time periods do you propose to examine as a part of your dissertation research, and what are your justifications for choosing them? (up to 300 words)
  • What techniques of investigation might you employ to carry out your research, and how do you expect they will enable you to collect, identify, interpret, and analyze the sources of information (interviews, texts, images, surveys, etc.), for your dissertation research? (up to 400 words)
  • Summarize as best you can where you feel most confident in the progress you have made thus far in developing your dissertation research project and what issues or questions you must still resolve in order to prepare a dissertation research proposal. Explain how you hope participating in the DPD program might help you to resolve these issues. (up to 250 words)

Summer Research Plans and Budget

  • What exploratory research or intellectual work do you propose to conduct this summer with DPD support, and how do you anticipate these efforts will contribute to the development of your dissertation project? If you have already conducted preliminary research for this project, what further do you hope to learn from additional work this summer? (up to 400 words)
  • Research start and end dates, and anticipated research site and location.
  • You may upload a detailed research budget for up to $5,000 to cover living and research expenses, including research travel. Living expenses over $3,000 will be approved only in exceptional cases supported by detailed justification. (up to 250 words)

Additional Information

  • In addition to your current doctoral training, how might your personal background or non-academic experiences inform the perspectives you will bring to your proposed dissertation project? (up to 250 words)
  • Language Self-Assessment: For each language, list institution of study, levels, proficiency level, and total duration of study.
  • Previous, Current, and Pending Funding: List all scholarships or fellowships you have received in support of graduate training or research while in graduate school, including name of award, duration of award, amount received, and purpose:
  • List all other funding sources to which you have applied, or expect to apply, to support pre-dissertation research in summer 2017. If you are selected for the SSRC DPD program, you will be required to notify the SSRC DPD program of any additional funding you might receive. Include source, date applied/awarded, start/end dates, amount requested/received, and purpose of funds:

Curriculum vitae

You will upload a 2-page CV. You can find models of academic CVs here.

Submit your application here. Please note that you cannot partially complete the form and save it for later.

For questions or additional information, contact ias@umn.edu. Please put ‘SSRC’ in the subject line of your email.