Global Religion Research Initiative

Global Religion International Collaboration Research Grant Competition

The Global Religion Research Initiative (GRRI) of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society (CSRS) at the University of Notre Dame (IN, USA) will be awarding an average of 10 research collaboration grants each year over the next three years (30 grants total), to fund the development of new, collaborative, empirical research projects in the social sciences focused on the study of religions around the globe. The central purpose of this program is to foster new, potentially long-term, empirical research collaborations between social science scholars of religion in North America and those in countries beyond the North Atlantic world (i.e., not Canada, the U.S., and Western Europe). Each grant will provide up to $25,000 to be used by the research collaborators for transportation, lodging, communications, meeting expenses, data collection and analysis, the purchase of research materials, and other collaborative research costs. Grant money may not be used for researchers’ salaries, stipends, or teaching reduction. Ten fellowships will be awarded each year on average over the next three academic years (2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020). The Global Religion Research Initiative is funded by the Templeton Religion Trust of Nassau, Bahamas.

Program Goals

These international collaboration research grants intend to foster new collaborative ties between social science scholars in different countries — specifically, those in North America and their partners beyond the North Atlantic world (i.e., Canada, the U.S., and Western Europe) — for the purpose of conducting collaborative, empirical, social science research on important topics that centrally involve religions around the globe. (For similar but non-collaborative grants, see the Project Launch program.) By providing start-up funding for scholars to explore and launch new, collaborative research projects on global religions, this program seeks to connect scholars in North America with working partnerships elsewhere in the world, to expand the horizons of North American scholarly researchers and empirical research on religion, and to foster new streams of knowledge and publications on religions around the globe. These grants also intend to position partnered researchers to apply together successfully for larger, full-project research grants to fund the conducting and completion of the projects that these start-up grants seek to launch.

Many social scientists working outside of “the West” are amazingly knowledgeable about and well positioned to study religions in their or other countries or regions of the world. North American scholars of religion can benefit immensely by building long-term, collaborative research partnerships with such colleagues around the globe. At the same time, many social scientists in various countries around the world work in universities and colleges that lack basic research infrastructures, often taken for granted by most North American academics, which disadvantages their scholarly endeavors. Collaborative research partnerships with other well-matched scholars can therefore benefit their careers and scholarship as well. This program’s collaborative research grants intend to foster new working scholarly partnerships marked by genuine equality, reciprocity, and mutual respect and learning; proposals reflecting traces of paternalistic, hierarchical, or neo-colonialist working relationships will not be funded. Overall, this grant program thus seeks to globalize the study of religion not only in terms of the geographical range of the subject of study, but also the reach and density of collaborative ties among the networks of social science scholars who study religion.

Eligibility Requirements

These collaborative research project-launch grants are open to regular tenured and tenure-track social science faculty at all stages of their careers who are employed in North American colleges and universities (adjunct and temporary faculty and graduate students are not eligible). Their collaborative non-North American research partners must also be regular faculty in their universities and colleges (although well justified special cases for researchers at important non-academic research institutes will also be considered). “Social sciences” here includes sociology, political science, anthropology, economics, and psychology; prospective applicants in other departments (e.g., areas studies) should inquire with GRRI staff about their possible eligibility (at All grant funding is awarded to fellowship recipients as reimbursement for eligible, documented research project expenses; no funds will be paid as indirects or overhead to their colleges or universities. Grant funds are intended to pay for research expenses (which may include hiring student research assistants), but not salaries or teaching replacement for the grant awardees.

While prior contacts, discussions, and planning between the proposed collaborative partners is an asset, these grants are not intended to support existing research projects that are already significantly underway or funded by other major grants. We aim to support social science faculty at whatever stage of their careers whose proposals reflect the greatest promise of leading to new or nascent scholarly collaborations on important, empirical research projects that are focused on religions around the world. One of the important criteria in evaluating proposals will be credible evidence that the applicant is not only personally serious about the prospect of conducting significant empirical social science research on global religion, but that the collaborative partnerships proposed are not long-standing and that the proposed empirical research is new, not a continuation or extension of previous work. Part of the expected effort involved in developing proposals for this grants competition, therefore, will be building on contacts around the globe to develop promising working partnerships and envisioning together new and important empirical research endeavors that capitalize upon the combined assets and synergies of the collaboration. However, the partnership must be established at the time the proposal is submitted. Each collaborator must submit budget and other documents in the proposal process.

Because of the constrained logistics and legalities of research grant contracts, these collaborative research grants will be made as sub-contracted (from the University of Notre Dame) to each collaborator’s university. Therefore, each collaborator should submit a budget for the portion of the award he or she requires to complete the project, as well as a letter from his or her university's sponsored research office approving the use of these funds.

Application Timing

Ten grants will be awarded each year on average over the next three academic years (2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020), for a total of 30 awarded grants. However, because successful proposals for this grant in particular will likely require significant front-end planning work by potential collaborators, more grants per year may be awarded in the final two years of the program than in the first year. Prospective applicants should prioritize their submitting the strongest possible proposals over submitting proposals in the first year.

Selection Criteria

Global Religion Research International Collaboration Grant proposals will be judged by a panel of expert reviewers. Successful proposals will involve proposed projects that are:

  1. Focused on a contemporary religion or religions (or relatively recent cases, not on ancient, medieval, or early modern religions) in one of the following world regions:
    • Asia, including East, Southeast, and South Asia
    • The Middle East and Turkey
    • Eastern Europe
    • Africa
    • Latin America
    • The Caribbean
    • Pacific Islands
  2. Empirical, not purely theoretical
  3. Methodologically and analytically sound
  4. Well-grounded in and contributing to the development of important, discipline-appropriate theories and literatures
  5. Promising for producing the publication of a significant book and/or major journal articles
  6. Promising in their ability to address issues of importance within and influence and help integrate the study of religion into the mainstream of their respective disciplines

For a more elaborate list of evaluation criteria, click here. (Note: Depending on the volume of applications received for this grant competition, the GRRI may not be able to provide applicants specific ratings or feedback from the evaluation process.)

Application Requirements

Applications must include the following materials to be considered for funding:

  1. Online application: Fill out and submit contact, applicant, and proposal information in the application portal. Each research team should submit one application, including contact and applicant information for each collaborator.
  2. Cover letter: One two-page letter (one letter per team, single spaced) briefly describing the proposed research project, why and how it fits this fellowship’s selection criteria, its stage in development (how long the team has been planning or working on it, where it presently stands, etc.), a brief budget narrative explaining how the (up to) $25,000 will be spent, why and how the team is motivated and equipped to launch the proposed new project, how the team members came to know each other, and how the project fits the researchers’ larger research program and scholarly agendas.
  3. Curriculum vitae: Each member of the research team should submit a current CV.
  4. Research project description: Each research team should submit a concise 7-10 page (double-spaced) summary elaboration of the proposed project’s focus, research question(s), likely scholarly significance, probable research design, analytical approach, etc. (Since this is a start-up grant for proposed new projects, these descriptions are not expected to be highly detailed and definite, but the clearer and more well-informed they are, the better.) Successful teams will also explain how the collaboration between the two (or more) scholars from different countries will significantly improve the project, compared to only one of the scholars working on it alone or the two separately.
  5. Proposed budget: Each member of the research team should download and complete the GRRI budget worksheet, and upload it with the online application. Each team member’s budget should include only the portion of the team budget that he or she will be responsible for spending. (For instance, if the team’s budget includes $5,000 for the North American team member’s travel costs, $2,000 for the non-North American team member’s travel costs, and $14,000 in research expenses to be spent in the non-North American country, the North American member’s budget would include $5,000 in travel funding, and the non-North American member’s budget would include $2,000 in travel funding and $14,000 in research funding.)
  6. Confidential letter of endorsement: Each untenured faculty member on the team should request that his or her department chair submit a letter endorsing the proposed research project as appropriate for the applicant’s career development. Letters of recommendation should be sent directly by their writers (not through the application portal) by email attachment to or as hard copy mailed to: Dr. Christian Smith, GRRI, 936 Flanner Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, 46556, USA.
  7. Approval letter: Each member of the research team should submit a signed letter from his or her Research/Sponsored Projects Office indicating approval of his or her portion of the proposed funding, and agreement that the grant funding, if awarded, will be exempt from indirect or overhead expenses at the applicant’s institution. (Sample approval letter)

All application materials must be submitted in English. Applicants are responsible to submit all required materials. Incomplete applications will not be evaluated for possible funding. Each researcher may not submit proposals to more than two GRRI programs in any given year.

Application Procedure

The application for Round 1 proposals is closed. Applications for Round 2 funding will open in Fall 2017. Contact with any questions.



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