The Global Brandeis Fund is a seed-grant competition for the university community, created to foster collaboration between different departments, organizations, and people on campus. We started it in 2008, when the Office of Global Affairs was first formed. The purpose was to enhance the global and international dimensions of Brandeis — not necessarily by starting lots of new projects, but by also enhancing existing projects and finding ways for those projects to be expanded and part of the university’s core activities. Ten projects were awarded the original funding in 2008, ranging from faculty research partnerships in India to an online database of intercultural gestures introduced by international students.
Our sense was that a lot of activities at Brandeis are global in nature. Faculty are increasingly integrating comparative and cultural issues into their courses, or even experimenting with international collaboration via online learning. Students are helping form NGOs or fighting poverty and injustice within clubs and multi-campus networks. Over the past few years, Brandeis students have organized powerful responses to tragedies in Haiti, India, and Pakistan, to name just a few. And, they are often joined in these efforts by staff and faculty. Our hope was to continue to build on this collaborative mentality, and support projects that can be sustained over the long-term.
The new round of funding will support projects to be carried out in the calendar year 2011, with the deadline coming up on January 31. Details, the request for proposals, and the application form can be found here. However, we realize that you might have questions about creating a project proposal, and so I’ve outlined a few tips below.
Form a Strong and Diverse Project Team
Coming up with new ideas is sometimes easier than finding the leadership to bring the ideas to life. This is especially true at Brandeis, where faculty, staff, and students have a lot of interests and leadership commitments already in place. Our advice is to spend time developing your project team and cultivating leaders who can carve out the time to complete the project. A strong proposal would ideally have one director or two co-directors, and a set of project team members, from different departments/organizations/schools, etc. If the project team involves students, one good strategy for thinking long-term is to also cultivate younger leaders who will be able to take over seamlessly when older students graduate. However, I would advise against having TOO many “cooks in the kitchen” — more than 5-7 project team members is probably too many.
Project teams can be mixed — they can be faculty and students, students and staff, or some kind of mixture of both.
Focus on the Theme and Goals of the Fund
Our goal in re-launching this year’s Fund was not to support any and every idea that relates to international or global themes. Rather, the goals explicitly state that this year’s Fund is intended to support teaching and learning at Brandeis. That is, we want to focus on projects that relate to courses at Brandeis, or to existing extra-curricular activities and structures. Whatever is proposed should demonstrate a potential lasting impact on some of the core activities of the university, and should potentially impact a wide set of students or other community members.
Look Over the University’s Draft Global Learning Goals
With that last point in mind, you should carefully read the web page of the Sub-Committee on Global Learning Goals. The Fund was re-launched because the Office of Global Affairs is also chairing this committee, which is working to create some language around global and intercultural learning goals for Brandeis undergraduates. A draft list of four goals is now being developed. Ideally, projects will directly address one or more of these goals.
Think Creatively About the End Product
One of our requirements is that each project have an end, tangible “product” (or set of products) that is deliverable to the Brandeis community. Tangible outcomes include events, lectures, courses, assignments, web sites, videos, journals, reports, abstracts/articles, etc. We encourage you to think about the impact of these products, and how they can reach a wide variety of audiences. Events are always nice, but sometimes they don’t attract a wide enough audience and may not be as long-lasting as well-crafted web sites or print pieces. If the project is scholarly or related to teaching, we also encourage you to think about translating this to a potential wider net of students; for instance, some aspects of a course discussion might be re-constituted or summarized on a public web-site.
One of the lessons we learned from the first round of funding was that it was hard for some project teams to overcome some logistical challenges, such as a member of the project team leaving the group, or communication within the group. So, one of the things we added to this year’s application was a question about potential challenges. Obviously, knowing these challenges in advance is difficult. However, a good proposal will describe some feasible challenges and come up with some potential solutions. Our goal is not to hold you to this analysis, but rather to see how you are thinking about the project and guess whether that thinking will translate into creative solutions when challenges DO come up.
I hope these tips help you as you come up with proposals. As always, don’t hesitate to ask any questions at email@example.com. Good luck!