New Directions Fellowships
Serious interdisciplinary research often requires established scholar-teachers to pursue formal substantive and methodological training in addition to the PhD. New Directions Fellowships assist faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who seek to acquire systematic training outside their own areas of special interest. The program is intended to enable scholars in the humanities to work on problems that interest them most, at an appropriately advanced level of sophistication. In addition to facilitating the work of individual faculty members, these awards should benefit scholarship in the humanities more generally by encouraging the highest standards in cross-disciplinary research.
The Foundation has awarded New Directions Fellowships since 2002. View a complete list of recipients.
Terms of the Awards
Candidates will be faculty members who were awarded doctorates within the last six to twelve years and whose research interests call for formal training in a discipline other than the one in which they are expert. Such training may consist of coursework or other programs of organized study. It may take place either at fellows' home institutions or elsewhere, as appropriate. Although it is anticipated that many fellows will seek to acquire deeper knowledge of other fields within the broadly defined sphere of the humanities and humanistic social sciences, proposals to study disciplines farther afield are eligible. The principal criteria for selection are: (1) the overall significance of the research, (2) the case for the importance of extra-disciplinary training for furthering the research, (3) the likely ability of the candidate to derive satisfactory results from the training program proposed, and (4) a well-developed plan for acquiring the necessary training within a reasonable period of time.
Fellows will receive: (1) the equivalent of one academic year's salary, (2) two summers of additional support, each at the equivalent to two-ninths of the previous academic year salary, and (3) tuition or course fees or equivalent direct costs associated with the fellows' training programs. To permit flexibility in meeting individual scholars' needs, these funds may be expended over a period not to exceed three full academic years following the date of the award. The Foundation also expects the fellow's home institution to use budgetary relief resulting from the award for academic purposes, preferably in the fellow’s department.
Applications consist of the following six items, compiled in the order in which they are listed.
- Proposal Information Sheet
- An endorsement letter from an institutional officer (i.e., the president, provost, or dean).
- A proposal of no more than 2,000 words, prefaced by a summary of no more than 300 words. The proposal should provide an explanation of the overall significance of the research being undertaken and how the proposed new direction will assist in the development of the field.
- A brief budget narrative and a budget, in the Mellon Foundation template. The budget should include items for salary and standard fringe benefits (including yearly increases), projected training costs, and project-related travel. Lodging may only be included for vital professional meetings and short site visits; fellows are expected to cover their housing costs during the periods when they receive salary support from the grant. Requests for housing supplements may be included in the proposed budget when the projected cost of living in the city where study is to be pursued exceeds substantially the costs incurred when the fellow is working at the home institution.
No overhead or indirect costs are permitted, and no funding for staging conferences, symposia, seminars, or events related to the project is allowed. The Foundation assumes the need for equipment or research assistants will be met by the fellow's home institution.
Final budgets commonly range from $175,000 to $250,000; the maximum is $300,000. Candidates should make every effort to base their estimated expenses on careful projections of all items in the grant budget. We may ask for budget adjustments to align with Foundation norms and are unable to accommodate requests for changes to the total award after the grant is made. Thus we advise candidates to seek assistance from experienced department and sponsored-research staff in preparing the budget submission.
- A letter of recommendation from the candidate's department chair or other senior colleague which should address the candidate's preparation and the relationship of the "new direction" to the nominee's research and pedagogy. An additional letter of recommendation may be submitted from a colleague in the new field, if appropriate.
- A concise curriculum vitae, no more than five pages in length.
Selection Process and the Making of Grants
Institutions will be invited to participate in this program and will be asked to solicit proposals from eligible faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences wishing to further their research through engaging in programs of study in fields other than their own.
It is expected that institutions will communicate the particulars of both the program and the application process to faculty in all the relevant academic departments and programs. Following an internal competition to be overseen by a committee of senior faculty members, each institution will forward the proposal it has selected to the Foundation. The Foundation convenes a panel of distinguished scholars which chooses 10-15 finalists to present to the Foundation's Trustees. Institutions and individual recipients will be notified and, if necessary, will work with the Foundation staff to develop their final requests. Applications will not be considered by the review panel if they fail to comply with these guidelines. Once the Foundation's Trustees have given their final approval, grants will be awarded to, and administered by, the fellows' home institutions.