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Transdisciplinary RFP

Planning Grants for Transdisciplinary Research Centers and Institutes

As part of the University’s strategic plan, Boundless Possibility, we will establish a set of new and reimagined transdisciplinary centers and institutes. As a first step, the University will fund one-year planning grants of $20,000 to $40,000 to allow colleagues to develop and refine proposals that could lead to the establishment of these new centers and institutes.

The planning grant application deadline was January 31, 2024, and successful applicants will be notified no later than March 31, 2024.

Details and FAQs

key details

Background and goals of the initiative

Through the University’s strategic plan, Boundless Possibility, we will establish a set of new and reimagined transdisciplinary centers and institutes–places where people from disparate disciplines directly collaborate as well as where scholars steeped in one discipline apply lessons from other disciplines to reshape their own fields or establish brand-new fields.

Part of the University’s faculty expansion strategy will focus on faculty who strengthen the core areas of disciplinary strength in the areas of distinction and those who are committed to pushing the boundaries of their disciplines.

As a first step, the University will fund one-year planning grants of $20,000 to $40,000 to allow colleagues to develop and refine proposals that could lead to the establishment of these new centers and institutes. The ultimately successful proposals will be ideas that seem most likely to enhance the University’s scholarly eminence, new faculty development, learning across disciplines, and, when appropriate, success in grant funding and associated graduate programs. Funded centers and institutes will receive University support for a five year renewable-term, with first-term annual funding between $200K and $1 million. We expect to fund between six and ten planning grants this year.

This planning grant phase is intended to be an accelerant for new ideas at the University of Rochester. We welcome proposals for planning grants for entirely new centers and institutes, as well as for ways in which existing centers and institutes might pursue exciting new directions as a consequence of significant University investment.

Note that funding in this planning grant phase is NOT a prerequisite for ultimate University funding for new (or re-imagined) transdisciplinary centers and institutes.

Definitions
  • Centers and Institutes: Definitions of institutes and centers are available on the Policy for Establishing Centers and Institutes page.
  • Transdisciplinary Research: Transdisciplinary research goes beyond simply connecting different disciplines. Transdisciplinary research happens when people from different disciplines engage one another, teach one another, and learn new ideas that they would not otherwise have considered. For example, an economist who changes the way they do economics because they are exposed to the theories or methods of psychology, is carrying out transdisciplinary research. This is how we will “redefine our disciplines and create new ones” at Rochester.
Eligibility

(1) All University of Rochester faculty are eligible to apply.

(2) Proposals must involve faculty from more than one department and/or School.

  • Proposals must include at least two planning period leaders, representing multiple departments/schools.
  • Proposals must include evidence that all relevant school deans support the proposal’s idea.
Award information

These planning grants can be used to support faculty or staff time, landscape research, modestly-priced planning retreats, and similar activities. The period of work for the planning grant would be one year. The University will begin to create and fund new transdisciplinary centers emerging from this process as early as summer 2025.

The planning grant application deadline will be January 31, 2024, and successful applicants will be notified no later than March 31, 2024.

Proposal preparation and required materials

Planning grant proposals can be completed on the web form on this website. Elements that are required for submission include:

  • Cover page
  • Proposal narrative considerations:
    • What is the principal idea behind the transdisciplinary center or institute?
    • How will success in this area increase the level of eminence of the University of Rochester?
    • Why and how is the University of Rochester poised for exceptional success in this area? What unique strengths would a center in this area at Rochester build upon that would differentiate this center from initiatives at other institutions?
    • How will a transdisciplinary center or institute bring together scholars from across departments in a manner that would be unlikely to occur absent this funding?
    • What are some potential measures of success of this transdisciplinary center or institute?
    • What are some possible sources of revenues that might help to sustain this center or institute in the event of its success? (Note that we WILL consider proposals for centers and institutes that are unlikely to result in revenues, provided a strong case is made for how the center or institute would help the University substantially increase our scholarly or creative eminence.)
    • Who are the likely leader(s) of this transdisciplinary center or institute?
    • How would this center or institute provide opportunities for undergraduate students?
    • Is the center intended to link Rochester researchers to other institutions? If so, are there existing connections or potential new ones to be made?
  • Proposal budget
    • Considerations: Identify all costs to be covered by the planning grant. Eligible costs include salaries, wages, travel, materials and supplies, and other expenses.
Proposal evaluation

A selection committee will use the general criteria below to evaluate proposals:

  • Originality, significance, quality and future impact of the proposed research
  • Impact on scholarly or creative eminence
  • Extent to which the proposed research is transdisciplinary
  • Strength of team members’ achievements and degree to which there is a balanced transdisciplinary team that can support the proposed activities
  • Capacity to attract future federal, state, philanthropic or private funding, if appropriate

A selection committee will be named soon, and inquiries should be directed to Vice Provost Jennifer Mathews via email at Jennifer.Mathews@rochester.edu. The selection committee will make recommendations to Provost David Figlio and Vice President for Research Steve Dewhurst who will select the planning grant awardees.

frequently asked questions

Are there page or word limits for the proposal?

The entire proposal should be no more than 5-6 pages single-spaced.

Is there any guidance on how we should show evidence of support from deans?

Once the proposal has been reviewed by the dean and submitted by the project leads, a confirmation of support from the dean should be emailed to jennifer.mathews@rochester.edu.

How are secondary appointments considered when defining leads representing different departments/schools?

The proposal you submit should make the argument for how this fits as transdisciplinary research.

Is there a clear distinction between the definition of Centers and Institutes?

Please refer to these definitions.

Can the proposals include entities external to the University of Rochester?

For proposals to be considered they must meet the criterion of being transdisciplinary, involving faculty from multiple departments/schools within the University. Collaborations beyond that are at the discretion of the project leads.

Does the proposal have to be all text or can document/figures/tables be attached as well?

There is a section within the form that allows for uploading documents. Please note them as appendices within the narrative of your proposal.

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