University News

Grants to support interdisciplinary work

By
Contributing Writer
Thursday, October 11, 2012

A competitive seed grant program, which will fund faculty research through a grant of up to $10,000, was announced at the beginning of this month by the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. The grants are intended to encourage research centered on gender, sexuality, race and class, though the grants could go to research in other fields, said Deborah Weinstein, assistant director of the Pembroke Center.

“With the seed grants, we want to support Brown’s faculty doing their own research but also be able to take that and spark a discussion across fields – through the humanities, social sciences, health sciences and creative arts,” Weinstein said.

The application process requires faculty members to have one other collaborator from another field, as well as a faculty project director, according to the Pembroke Center website. The proposal should describe how faculty members, visiting scholars, postdoctoral fellows and students can be included in the research process. 

Applications are due Nov. 12, and applicants must submit a budget as part of the proposal. The Pembroke Center does not have a definitive number of awards in mind, Weinstein said, adding that the number of grants will be determined depending on the budgets of the research projects approved. 

“We don’t have a preset number. We can’t predict the mix of grant requests and topics at this point,” Weinstein said. “That’s part of the excitement of an open interdisciplinary grant competition.”

The funds for the grant program were largely raised by the efforts of Elizabeth Munves Sherman ’77 P’06 P’09, who challenged the University community to raise $750,000 to fund research at the 30th Anniversary Dinner for the Pembroke Center in October 2010. If the goal was met, she said her family would donate $250,000. 

This initial objective of $1 million was quickly surpassed, Sherman said. In total $1.5 million was raised by Nov. 2011, 50 percent more than the original goal.  

Pembroke administrators – including Kay Warren, director of the Pembroke Center, and Christy Law Blanchard, director of program outreach and development – met with Sherman prior to the fundraising challenge announcement. 

“We talked six months before that, figuring out how to generate some enthusiasm around raising endowment funds for the Pembroke Center,” Sherman said. “That’s where the idea for the challenge came from.”

Though funds for research are raised campus-wide, the Pembroke Center is often forgotten, Sherman said. 

“Because it is a relatively small piece of the University, it wasn’t getting much attention,” Sherman said. “So we were trying to come up with a way to get people focused on the Pembroke Center.”

Proposals will be judged by an interdisciplinary committee of faculty members in November. Grants will be awarded in December, and researchers will have a year to spend their allotted funds.