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Call for Proposals to Establish Research Clusters

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Frequently Asked Questions

Within its broad research themes of democracy and human development, the Kellogg Institute is launching an initiative to support and invest in a select number of faculty-led “Research Clusters” in distinctive focal areas of high-impact, mission-driven research and programming.  Through these Research Clusters, we plan to direct Kellogg investments and energies in concentrated ways to promote innovative, collaborative, and interdisciplinary research in key focal areas that promise to generate sustained, dynamic collaborations and multiple scholarly outputs on issues closely aligned with the Institute’s core research themes.

We will establish these Clusters by identifying and investing in a select number of focal areas within the study of democracy and human development, from among outstanding faculty proposals that emerge from shared research interests and strengths among faculty fellows and the extended Kellogg community of scholars (e.g., current and former doctoral students and Visiting Fellows). 

Kellogg will support the Research Clusters through a variety of means, including financial and human resources, administrative and conference support, strategic use of the Visiting Fellows and Distinguished Research Affiliates programs, and partnerships with organizations, academic institutions, and relevant Catholic entities whose work relates to the Research Clusters.

By providing a strong incentive for groups of scholars to undertake coordinated, longer-term research initiatives, we hope the Clusters will serve as incubators for expansive collaborations, attract external funding, and generate significant research outputs on core Institute themes.


The Institute seeks to support clusters of scholars that develop naturally from shared research interests and needs, and take into account Kellogg strategic priorities, unique strengths, external funding opportunities, and scholarly potential.  Such Clusters are envisioned as organic networks consisting of various parties within the broader Kellogg community organized around an interest in addressing a common problem, issue, or set of interrelated questions through their individual and collective research.

Research ClustersThe aim of Research Cluster grants is to promote synergy among the knowledge, tools, and perspectives of researchers in the Kellogg community in a way that will result in significant research outputs and serve as an incubator for ongoing, expansive collaborations and larger initiatives with the potential to attract external funding.

Research Cluster grants will provide direct support that is otherwise not available through existing funding opportunities offered by the Institute in order to incentivize collaboration, interactivity, networking, and research connections among the participating scholars. In addition, the Institute will prioritize investments that will advance the work of the designated Research Clusters through its regular processes for awarding grants, selecting Visiting Fellows, inviting speakers in the lecture series, and otherwise allocating resources.

We expect the Research Clusters to further enrich and integrate the distinctive Kellogg intellectual community, which encompasses faculty, students, and external scholars and practitioners, by generating collaborative relationships, fostering a supportive atmosphere, and mentoring less senior members and doctoral students to help them develop as scholars.  In addition, there is an expectation that the work of the Clusters will be presented, discussed, and disseminated to the Kellogg community more broadly.


A Research Cluster must have at least two principal investigators, at least one of whom must be a Kellogg Faculty Fellow. Proposals must identify a minimum of three on-campus researchers working on a common theme, including Notre Dame faculty, Visiting Fellows, and doctoral students whose dissertation topic is directly related to the theme of the Research Cluster. 

The Institute stongly encourages Research Cluster proposals that make connections across the Kellogg community — including Faculty Fellows, current and former Visiting Fellows, current Doctoral Student Affiliates and PhD alumni, and Distinguished Research Affiliates — as well as those that involve collaboration across disciplines, departments, colleges/schools, and with other institutions or external partners.

Members of a Research Cluster may be individual scholars pursuing related but independent projects, or a team of scholars pursuing collaborative research.  The Research Cluster must develop a platform of research in the area of the Cluster that can be expected to yield a sufficient number of research outputs within a specified time frame and that has the potential to be competitive for external funding.  Collaborative initiatives might include the expansion of faculty members’ current projects or the instigation of new collaborative ventures. 

Funded Research Clusters may include elements of but will transcend projects eligible for Kellogg funding in the categories of faculty research, working group, or conference grants.  Research Cluster grants are not intended to provide seed funding for singular research projects or proposal development by small teams.  The term “cluster” is meant to indicate a larger scale of collaboration than research partnerships based on one project or a few closely related narrow research questions. 

Among other things, the Kellogg Institute especially seeks to support Research Clusters that:

  • Cross disciplinary, sub-disciplinary, and/or methodological boundaries and lead to cross-fertilization across regions and themes;

  • Link important normative and theoretical work, high-level empirical research, and applied research;

  • Use a multidisciplinary and/or mixed-method approach to address complex problems and important challenges facing humankind;

  • Integrate and explore the intersection of its core themes of democracy and human development;

  • Contribute to relevant contemporary debates on public policy.


Research Cluster grants will typically be up to $75,000 over three years.  Disbursement of the total award amount may be divided unequally across years (e.g., a larger amount may be required in earlier years for start-up expenses).

These grants are intended as seed money to foster the formation of cohesive, ongoing Research Clusters organized around a specific theme, issue, or set of closely interrelated questions or problems.
Research Cluster grants are intended to support aspects of the Cluster that benefit the group as a whole and may be used for a variety of programmatic elements and project costs, including but not limited to:

  • Travel expenses associated with collaboration with individuals involved in the project from other institutions, including short-term visitors;

  • Graduate or undergraduate research assistants, including those providing logistical and administrative support for the group;

  • Acquisition of research materials, including electronic databases, books, manuscripts, microfilm, etc.;

  • Research computing or computer software (but not hardware) for research purposes;

  • Buy-out(s) of teaching responsibilities; and

  • Support for team-taught seminars or courses by members of the Research Cluster.

Research Cluster proposals may also include a request that the Institute support a Visiting Fellow or other post-doctoral researcher with funds over and above those in the proposed Research Cluster grant budget. 

In addition to the above funding awarded through a Research Cluster grant, proposals by designated Research Clusters and those of its members that advance the work of the Cluster will be prioritized in other areas of Institute funding, including grants for faculty and graduate student research, course development grants, conference/workshop grants, and funding for speakers in the Kellogg lecture series.  The Institute may also provide Research Clusters with logistical assistance, such as office or collaborative work space, support for external grant proposal development and implementation, event coordination, and publicity.

Award Criteria

All Research Cluster proposals must demonstrate intellectual merit, as well as fit with the Kellogg Institute mission and the potential to make a significant research impact in the Institute’s core thematic areas and advance its strategic plan.

In addition, the following criteria will be used to evaluate the strength of proposals:

  • Cohesion of research interests of the identified participants;

  • Anticipated outcomes, including potential for future publication and/or other significant research outputs;

  • Potential to leverage Kellogg support to garner substantive external funding;

  • Potential for sustained collaboration that catalyzes partnerships across disciplines, departments, and colleges/schools, and with other institutions or external partners that provide long-term strategic value to the Institute as a whole;

  • Potential to build long-term, multidimensional relationships that advance key Kellogg objectives for research excellence, student and educational opportunities, fieldwork, and policy engagement and impact;

  • Potential to involve PhD, Master of Global Affairs, and Kellogg International Scholars Program students in research related to the theme of the Cluster;

  • Ability of the proposed Cluster composition to create synergy among various disciplines, methods, and approaches in a way that addresses the research question or problem better together than separately.

Successful Research Cluster proposals will have an ambitious mix of programmatic elements and significant mechanisms of interactivity and collaboration, with priority given to those that incentivize connections across disciplines and/or regions of study that are otherwise absent.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to seek, and priority is given to projects with demonstrated potential to secure, financial support from other sources, both internal and external to Notre Dame.

Proposal Submission and Review

Research Cluster proposals will be considered in a two-stage process. 

Stage I:  Prior to submitting a full proposal, a two-page concept paper must be submitted for review by the Faculty Committee of the Institute.  The concept paper should describe: (1) the research theme to be addressed, its background, significance, and relation to the thematic priorities of the Institute; (2) an explanation of the collaboration to be undertaken and who would be involved, as well as the innovative intellectual and/or program-building importance of the Cluster and its relevance to Kellogg strategic priorities; (3) forms of support sought from Kellogg; and (4) how the proposal meets the award criteria described above.

The submission deadline for concept papers is Monday, April 10

Stage II:  We will invite those receiving a favorable review in this initial stage to submit a full proposal, due at the beginning of the fall semester, for review by the Faculty Committee of the Institute. 

Full proposals should be no more than eight pages (not including budget and CVs) and should include:

  • A brief abstract (150–200 words);

  • A delineation of the specific components or activities for which funding is sought;

  • A timeline and outline of the Cluster’s scope over one to three years;

  • A statement of expected accomplishments during the period for which funding is requested;

  • A statement regarding the anticipated scholarly products;

  • A statement regarding the potential for competing successfully for other funding, including potential funding sources;

  • If funding for graduate or undergraduate assistance is requested, a description of how the student(s) will be involved in the research;

  • Abbreviated (two-page maximum) CVs that highlight recent publications and other relevant work of the principal investigators and other key project participants;

  • A statement regarding previous support received from the Kellogg Institute for related activities by project participants and results achieved; and

  • An itemized budget and narrative budget justification.

Peer reviews will be sought before a final decision is made to award funding.

Information Sessions

Prior to the deadline for submitting concept papers, the Institute will hold two information sessions to provide guidance and answer questions for faculty considering submitting a Research Cluster proposal.  Interested faculty may attend either one of these sessions:

Thursday, March 9, 3–4 pm (Hesburgh Center Room C-104/105)

Monday, March 20, 4–5 pm (Hesburgh Center Room C-103)




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The Kellogg Institute promotes scholarship, learning, and linkages that address issues of critical importance to our world. At the center of our interdisciplinary community’s work are two key themes: democratization and human development. 

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