Global Religion Research Initiative

Global Religion Book-Writing Leave Fellowship 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 nine (9) academic year teaching-and-service leave fellowships in the social sciences over three years, in order to advance the study of global religion by facilitating the completion of significant, new scholarly books on religions in different parts of the world. Each fellowship will provide up to $70,000 toward the full reduction of teaching and committee responsibilities for one academic year (if those funds are insufficient to cover the costs of the full leave, the recipients’ institutions must “cost share” the balance).

Fellowship recipients will be expected to focus their primary attention during their year leaves on completing the writing of their books, toward expeditiously securing a publishing contract with a top university press. Three (3) fellowships will be awarded each year on average over three academic years (2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020). The next round of applications are for the 2019-2020 academic year. The Global Religion Research Initiative is funded by the Templeton Religion Trust of Nassau, Bahamas.

Fellowship Goals

These fellowships intend to fund full academic-year leaves from regular teaching and service responsibilities in order to facilitate faculty in the social sciences completing their (already underway) book projects on a religion or religions beyond the North Atlantic world (i.e., not the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe). The purpose is to support the careers of (especially, but not exclusively, young) North American social science faculty who are researching and writing about religions in various regions of the world, to enhance the variety and depth of published scholarship on the same, and to help better integrate the study of global religion into mainstream social sciences.

Fellowships will not support data collection for book projects (see other GRRI competitive funding programs for that), but instead intend to provide faculty the time and focus needed to complete the writing of books on which they have already been working and have made substantial headway. Faculty scholars working on their first book are especially encouraged to apply.

Fellowship Timing

These fellowships seek to support the “final year” of book writing work, to free scholars who are otherwise bogged down with teaching and service responsibilities in order finally to move “over the hump” of completing the writing of their book manuscripts. Prospective applicants should time their proposals over the three years that this fellowship is offered to fit best the development of their book projects according to these program intentions.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligible applicants are social science faculty at North American colleges and universities who (a) occupy regular tenure-track or tenured university or college positions, and (b) whose book projects fit the selection criteria listed below. “Social sciences” here includes sociology, political science, anthropology, economics, and psychology; book projects in religious studies departments are eligible if their methodologies are fundamentally social scientific. Prospective applicants in other departments (e.g., areas studies) should inquire with GRRI staff about their possible eligibility (at All appropriate social science methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative, are eligible. (Quantitative studies, however, must go beyond merely identifying statistically significant variables to naming, describing, and testing the causal mechanisms believed to explain those associations; ethnographic studies must include enough mixed-methods evidence to contextualize their findings). Studies using traditional methods in the humanities — analyzing texts, telling purely historical narratives, interpretive studies of works of art and performance — are not eligible. Potentially fundable proposals may involve innovative interdisciplinary work with the natural sciences (e.g., psychology and neurology, anthropology and cognitive science) but at their heart must fundamentally speak to the mainstream of social sciences.

Specific amounts of fellowships awarded will depend on each recipient’s salary and benefits costs, which proposals must document. Fellowship will pay up to $70,000 total, and will be distributed to award recipients institutions. Only salary and benefit costs can be paid with these funds. Indirect and overhead costs are not an allowable expense for this fellowship. Proposals not requiring the full $70,000 may be looked upon favorably. If the maximum awardable funds are insufficient to cover the costs of the faculty member's full leave costs, then his or her institution must ”cost share“ the amount needed in excess of $70,000 to provide the full academic year relief from teaching and service responsibilities.

Selection Criteria

Global Religion Book-Writing Academic Year Leave Fellowship proposals will be judged by a panel of expert reviewers. Successful proposals will involve book 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 fellowship, 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
  2. Cover letter: two (2) pages (single spaced) briefly describing the book project, why and how it fits this fellowship’s selection criteria, its stage in development (how long you have been working on it, where it presently stands, etc.), a project timeline outlining the plan for completion of the manuscript by spring/summer 2020, preferred publishers, and future career plans or goals
  3. Curriculum vitae
  4. Writing sample (no specific length requirements)
  5. Book prospectus or book project description: a concise, 6-10 page summary (exclusive of references, double-spaced) elaboration of the book’s research question(s), scholarly significance, research design, data and methods, analytical approach, publication plan, etc.
  6. Letter of endorsement: from the applicant’s department Chair endorsing the book project and the proposed leave of absence from teaching and service for one academic year. Letters of endorsement 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, 4020 Jenkins-Nanovic Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, 46556, USA.
  7. Approval letter from Dean: A signed letter of approval from the applicant’s Dean indicating explicit approval for the proposed leave of absence for one academic year under the terms of the fellowship specified here, as well as your expected salary and fringe amount for the 2019 - 2020 academic year.
  8. Approval letter from Research/Sponsored Projects Office: A signed letter of approval from the applicant’s Research/Sponsored Projects Office indicating approval of the proposed funding, and agreement that the fellowship funding, if awarded, will be exempt from indirect or overhead expenses at the applicant’s institution. (Sample approval letter can be viewed here.)

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.

Co-author pairs interested in applying for funding should contact the GRRI staff at to ask about the possibility of applying for funding.

Application Procedure

The application period for Round 3 is closed.

We will announce fellowship and grant recipients early in the Spring 2019 semester. Please contact with any questions about submitted applications.


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You’re already into
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Not accepting proposals in 2019.


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