Global Religion Research Initiative

Global Religion Research Seed-Money 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 45 grants for new, empirical research in the social sciences focused on the study of religions around the globe. Each grant will provide up to $10,000 (we expect to fund the average grant at $8,000 each) to be used for research travel, data collection, coding, analysis, the purchase of research materials, and other similar research costs. The next round of applications is for the 2020-2021 academic year. The Global Religion Research Initiative is funded by the Templeton Religion Trust of Nassau, Bahamas.

Program Goals

These research seed-money grants intend to encourage and facilitate new, empirical research by North American scholars in the social sciences on important topics that centrally involve religions beyond the North Atlantic region (i.e., Canada, the U.S., and Western Europe). (For similar but internationally collaborative grants, see the International Collaboration program.) By providing start-up funding for scholars to explore and launch new research projects on global religions, the grants seek to expand the horizons of scholarly researchers and empirical research on religion in the social sciences, and to foster new streams of knowledge and publications on religions around the globe. This program also intends to help position researchers to apply successfully for larger, full-project research grants to fund the conducting of the projects that these start-up grants seek to launch.

Eligibility Requirements

These research seed-money grants are open both to (a) doctoral-level (ABD) graduate students in social science programs in North American universities, and (b) regular tenured and tenure-track social science faculty at all levels of their careers who are employed in North American colleges and universities (adjunct and temporary faculty are not eligible). “Social sciences” here includes sociology, political science, anthropology, economics, and psychology; prospective applicants in other departments (e.g., area studies) should inquire with GRRI staff about their possible eligibility (at

Grant funds will be distributed to award recipients' institutions, and can be used to cover research expenses (which may include hiring student research assistants). Indirect or overhead costs, salaries or teaching replacement costs for recipients, or graduate student tuition and fees are not allowable costs for this grant.

This grant is not intended to support research projects that are already underway, in the field, or funded by other significant grants. We aim to fund social science scholars at whatever stage of their careers whose proposals reflect the greatest promise of leading to important, new, empirical research projects focused on religions around the world. One of the important criteria in evaluating proposals will be credible evidence that the applicant is indeed personally serious about and invested in the prospect of conducting significant empirical social science research on global religion.

Selection Criteria

Global Religion Research Seed-Money 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
  2. Cover letter: two (2) pages (single spaced) briefly describing the proposed research project, why and how it fits this fellowship’s selection criteria, its stage in development (how long you have been planning or working on it, where it presently stands, etc.), a timeline outlining the start and end dates for this project, a brief budget narrative explaining how the (up to) $10,000 will be spent, why and how you are motivated and equipped to launch the proposed new project, potential avenues for subsequent funding for the project, and how the project fits your larger research program and scholarly agenda. Please make clear in your letter how this project is new, and not a continuation of ongoing research.
  3. Curriculum vitae
  4. Research project description: a concise 7-10 page (exclusive of references, 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.)
  5. Proposed budget: download and complete the GRRI budget worksheet, and upload it with your online application.
  6. [REQUIRED ONLY FOR DOCTORAL STUDENTS AND UNTENURED FACULTY] Confidential letter of endorsement: from the applicant’s primary faculty advisor or dissertation chair (if a graduate student) or department Chair (if an untenured faculty) 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, 4020 Jenkins-Nanovic Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, 46556, USA.
  7. Approval letter: A signed letter of approval from the applicant’s Research/Sponsored Projects Office indicating approval 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 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.

Application Procedure

The application period 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
dissertation and you need a
year to
finish it.


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Not accepting proposals in 2019.


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Not accepting proposals in 2019.


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You want to collaborate
a colleague overseas
and need
to get rolling.


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You have an idea
for a
project but need some seed
to get it going.


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Not accepting proposals in 2019.