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.

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View a list of New Directions Fellowships recipients here

Selection Process and the Making of Grants

This is a limited submission competition.  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 Mellon.  Mellon convenes a panel of distinguished scholars which chooses 10–15 finalists to present to Mellon's Trustees.  Institutions and individual recipients will be notified and, if necessary, will work with Mellon staff to develop their final requests.  Applications will not be considered by the review panel if they fail to comply with these guidelines.  Once Mellon's Trustees have given their final approval, grants will be awarded to, and administered by, the fellows' home institutions.

Terms of the Awards

Eligible candidates will be faculty members who were awarded a doctorate in the humanities or humanistic social sciences 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 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 award normally can be delayed for a maximum of one year, if circumstances require it.  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.

Application Guidelines

Nominations should be submitted through the Mellon's online grant portal.  Once a nomination has been invited, an institutional contact will then gain access to the application in the portal, as designated in the invitation letter.  This person can grant access to additional contacts and remove themselves as necessary.  The application consists of the following seven components:

  • A nomination letter indicating institutional endorsement from an officer (i.e., the president, provost, or dean).
  • A project summary of no more than 300 words (2,000 characters, with spaces).
  • A proposal of no more than 2,000 words (13,000 characters, with spaces), providing 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 budget and budget narrative, using the templates within the portal.  The budget should include items for salary and standard fringe benefits (including yearly increases), projected training costs, and project-related travel.  The budget may include funds to cover expenses related to attending vital professional meetings.  In addition, lodging related to research and training activities can be covered for stays of no longer than a semester.  Requests for housing supplements may be included in the proposed budget for longer periods when the projected cost of living in a 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.  Mellon assumes the needs 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.  The term of the grant should cover a minimum of two years.

    We do not make adjustments to the grant amount after the grant is awarded, so candidates should make every effort to base their estimated expenses on careful projections of all items in the grant budget.  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.

The project summary, proposal, budget, and budget narrative should be entered in the appropriate fields in the system.  All other components should be attached to the system as PDFs.  Note that there is an additional compliance section in the online application.  While we do expect this to be completed, it is required for internal purposes, and will not be viewed by the selection panel.