Proposal Process

Everyone is very busy; therefore, this process has been designed to be as lightweight and user friendly in its initial stages as possible. Below are the basic parameters for applying; for further information, please write to signature-areas@brown.edu.

Who can apply?
We invite faculty from the entire University community to submit their best ideas. Initiatives can involve any combination of talent in the arts and humanities, the social, natural, and physical sciences, mathematics, or engineering. Any professor at any rank (including academic track faculty in the Medical School's clinical departments) or any senior lecturer active in research is eligible to lead a proposal. Emeritus, adjunct, visiting, and other visiting voluntary and clinician educator faculty, and post doctoral appointments, are not eligible to lead projects, but are welcome as collaborators.

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What are the criteria?
We hope to receive a very broad spectrum of proposed topics, but there are certain fundamental criteria that each initiative must address. Strong faculty leadership—and championship—are essential. The Provost has identified the following additional elements:

  1. Concerns a broad area of scholarship where Brown can build on its existing strength for the sake of discovering, communicating, and preserving knowledge.
  2. Represents an area in which Brown has or can generate a comparative advantage to become a global leader.
  3. Takes advantage of the breadth and collaborative nature of Brown faculty in our unified community.
  4. Provides opportunities for student involvement through a partnership of students and teachers.
  5. Addresses a problem or issue of great importance to society—serving the community, the nation, and the world.

It should be noted that signature initiatives may well vary in scope, scale, and level of required funding support: one size may not fit all.  Most basically, initiatives will need to have a significant and lasting impact on Brown research and teaching.

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What are the guidelines for submission?

  1. Review proposed ideas: As proposals are submitted, they will be posted on this site. You may find it helpful to consult the website to find out what other faculty are proposing so that you can consider ways to align research and teaching efforts or to contribute to broader themes. Productive alliances between cognate ideas and initiatives are more likely to succeed than highly delimited proposals.
  2. Draft a two-page proposal: Faculty are invited to submit proposals in the form of two-page “white papers”. These should lay out, briefly and cogently, the nature of the initiative and address how the program would meet the established criteria. Please also list lead faculty and a representative set of potential collaborators. Information about budgets and other specific logistical concerns is not needed at this point.
  3. Submit final two-page proposals: Proposals should be submitted as Word documents to signature-areas@brown.edu no later than Monday, December 3, 2012. Earlier submissions (or at least contact about the process) are strongly encouraged given that cross-fertilization of ideas may prove to be a key part of this process. All two-page proposals will be posted to this website for faculty consideration and comment. We are happy to facilitate meetings of faculty who are, or are interested in, submitting proposals.

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What is the timeline?

  1. Submission of proposals: Proposals should be submitted as Word documents to signature-areas@brown.edu no later than Monday, December 3, 2012. 
  2. Review of proposals: After the initial December submission of “white papers”, the Academic Priorities Committee (APC), Provost, and President will review and consider all proposals, in some cases possibly seeking clarification or suggesting additional collaborations. Approximately six will then be selected to move forward for further exploration and development; this process will begin in the Spring term 2013 and continue into the Fall term 2013. The Office of the Provost will provide financial and administrative support for this next stage, which may include retreats, symposia, and broad consultation; outside reviews may also be convened to assess strengths and weaknesses. 
  3. Selection of Signature Academic Initiatives: After this period of review and consultation, the APC will be asked to make a set of recommendations to the Provost, President, and Corporation. Two or three initiatives will ultimately be selected for major support, with final approvals during the 2013-2014 academic year.

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