Fellowships and Grants > Academia in the Public Sphere Grants Program

Islamic Traditions and Muslim Societies in World Contexts

The program has been discontinued and this record is displayed for archival/historical purposes.

A Small Grants Program

The SSRC is pleased to announce the availability of grants to support public engagement by academic experts on Islamic traditions and Muslim societies. The grants program seeks to encourage projects permitting the dissemination of academic research on Islamic traditions and Muslim societies to targeted constituencies, with particular emphasis on media and policymakers. With this program the SSRC looks to nurture the public relevancy of area-studies research by promoting strategic partnerships that will break down barriers and build connections between academic researchers, journalists, policymakers, and practitioners. The SSRC also seeks to assist faculty in developing the necessary skills they require to be able to engage specialized nonacademic audiences on the topic of Islam in the world.


Grants are available to interdisciplinary research centers on U.S. university campuses, including but not limited to Title VI National Resource Centers. Research centers are eligible to apply individually for grants of up to $50,000 to be used over a period of fifteen months. Extraordinary projects involving multiple collaborating centers or universities may be considered for grants of up to $100,000. The program has awarded $2.6 million in grants to date and anticipates giving out approximately $1.1 million in awards in the next cycle.

Funding Priorities

Funds are available to innovative projects that will effect change by creating robust and sustainable capacities for public and policy engagement on university campuses. Projects that include strong faculty participation and leadership will be given funding priority as will projects that disseminate expert knowledge born of context specific research. Successful applications will demonstrate usage of adequate distribution channels for all deliverables intended to reach targeted constituencies.

Funds may be used additionally to promote collaborative partnerships between existing institutions on university campuses, such as interdisciplinary research centers and journalism or international affairs schools. Applicants may also propose collaborative working relationships with relevant, nonacademic institutions in order to produce jointly developed deliverables that will be useful to journalists, policymakers, or the general public. We encourage both domestic and international collaborations.

Partnerships and engagement with media, policy institutions and policymakers, advocacy groups, business leaders, and the general public are permitted, but funds cannot be used for outreach supporting K–12 education. While there are no geographical restrictions to the regions that can be addressed by projects, we anticipate that approximately 40 percent of the awards will be directed toward projects that bring scholarly expertise to bear on political and social issues surrounding Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and/or Yemen.


Activities to be proposed by applicant centers engaging journalists may include (but are not limited to) one or more of the following:

  • Media appearances, including print journalism and national or local broadcast affiliates (both television and radio), in order to enhance the public visibility of individual university faculty and researchers
  • Sustained and intensive collaborations with journalists, journalism schools, media studies departments, and public radio or television departments that result in the joint production of materials for public dissemination
  • Hiring of assistants or researchers to work with scholars on op-ed pieces and hiring of strategic communications specialists to provide training for scholars
  • Development of curricula to train journalists or to train faculty or graduate students in undertaking public scholarship on themes supported by the grants program
  • Building of basic infrastructure such as installation of ISDN or high quality audio lines to facilitate interviews or the management of materials supporting engagement of different constituencies, including handbooks, mailing lists, directories, contact lists, databases, and checklists to strengthen individual and institutional capacity for engagement

Activities to be proposed by applicant centers engaging policymakers may include (but are not limited to) one or more of the following:

  • Sessions bringing together academic specialists and policymakers on topics of importance to policy circles
  • Training of scholars to write effective policy briefs, memos, and recommendations that can be provided by international affairs schools, public policy schools, or organizations versed in these practices as well as means for disseminating such findings
  • Sustained, intensive collaborations with think tanks or advocacy groups on issues that result in various deliverables improving policymakers’ understanding of key topics
  • Policy-relevant research and subsequent dissemination on understudied but critically important topics

This grants program also will support the dissemination of academic expertise to general publics. Applicants may propose activities addressing the history, culture, intellectual traditions, contributions to global culture, civilization, thought, and the contemporary politics of Muslim societies.

Application Process


Potential applicants are encouraged to review the online materials and contact relevant SSRC staff in advance of submitting a proposal.
The application consists of the following (all to be submitted online):
  • Completed administration form
  • Executive Summary of Project (no more than 250 words)
  • Uploaded Narrative Proposal (no more than 8 pages)
  • Completed online budget
  • Uploaded Budget Form (signed by financial officer)
  • Uploaded Letter of Support (signed by university administrator)
  • CVs of primary project participants (1–2 pages and no more than 4 CVs total)
  • Supporting materials (if relevant)

The Narrative Proposal should provide as much detail as possible and should include the following discrete sections:

  • Statement of Purpose: This section should include a detailed description of the desired impact of the project, the constituents the project will engage, and how the project creates new or strengthened capacity for public engagement.
  • Activities: This section should describe the activities for which funding is sought in detail. Please describe who will lead these activities, the relation of each activity to the other, and a timeline for their completion.
  • Plans for Dissemination of Research Findings: The selection committee expects that all projects will permit the dissemination of scholarly expertise to nonacademic audiences. Please detail the distribution channels or plans for dissemination in this section.
  • Evaluation of Impact: This section should detail what data will be collected to monitor performance of the project, track progress, and assess the impact of the project.
  • Justification for Requested Duration: This section should explain why the project could be completed successfully in the proposed duration of the project. This section should also detail the sustainability of the project, if any, after funding will have ended as well as its long-term impact.


The grant period spans approximately 15 months: from March 15, 2011 to June 30, 2012. Grant funds can be used for honoraria, travel, meeting expenses, collaborations with partner organizations and schools, acquisition and preparation of materials for dissemination, web development, and costs associated with media appearances, communications training, and consultations with experts. Limited staff salary, graduate student stipend support, and summer research support for faculty can also be covered if directly relevant to the proposed project, but in total these costs should not exceed 25 percent of the overall budget. The grants program will not support university overhead or indirect costs.


A final report describing the impact and additional long-term plans resulting from the activities supported by the grant will be required of successful applicants.


Applications must be submitted through the online application portal. No hard copies will be accepted.


  • Applications due—December 3, 2010
  • Notification given—February 18, 2011
  • Grant period commences—March 15, 2011
  • Grant period concludes—June 30, 2012

For inquiries contact Thomas Asher, Program Director: apsg[at]ssrc[dot]org

This program is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York in order to promote better public understanding of Muslim societies.

Program Director
Thomas Asher


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