ISS Theme Projects Guidelines
The ISS theme project allows Cornell faculty members to work in-residence at the ISS to collaborate on a common interdisciplinary research topic. At the core of each 3-year project is social science research that will attract attention from national and international academic communities as well as private and government funding agencies.
Each theme project challenges those within and beyond Cornell to look anew at critical issues in the social sciences and reconsider their own social worlds. For faculty, it offers opportunities for sustained discussion and interdisciplinary research on a core subject and its implications. For students, the project offers stimulating courses and opportunities for collaborative research.
In the first year of each theme project, the Institute recruits up to 9 Cornell faculty members as core participants. These ISS faculty fellows spend time planning the events of year 2, which may include weekly seminars, workshops, conferences, courses, and collaborative research. During the first year, they learn how to work as a team and may also recruit a postdoctoral associate. The year culminates with a major public lecture by the project leader and team members that presents the motivation for the theme project and previews its activities.
The second year of the project is the most publicly active, as core team members lead activities that engage the campus and the community. In year 2, the ISS faculty fellows have offices at the ISS, and are expected to devote at least 50 percent of their time and energy to the theme project in exchange for partial course and administrative relief. The ISS also provides $5,000 to each team member's department to partially offset course reductions ($10,000 for team leaders).
In the third year, each theme project focuses on completing a set of substantive scholarly outputs, as well as establishing a legacy for the project at Cornell. This can be broadly defined, and might include a series of journal articles, an edited volume, a major grant proposal, or securing major external funding.
- Each theme project may submit a budget requesting up to $300,000 for project activities (see budget section below for more information). The ISS Director will determine the final theme project budget in consultation with the Vice Provost for the Social Sciences.
- Per the original ISS agreement with College Deans, the team leader receives one full year of course release. It is the Institute's expectation that this release will be spread over the course of the project's term, but will be concentrated primarily in the second year of the project (e.g., 25% in year 1, 50% in year 2, 25% in year 3). If a project has co-leaders, it will be their responsibility to decide how to divide this fixed resource.
- Again, per the original ISS agreement with College Deans, team members will teach no more than two courses in the second year of the project.
- All team members receive full release from “heavy” administrative duties during the second year of the project (e.g., department chair, director of graduate study, center or institute director, etc.). Team leaders receive this administrative release during all three years of the project.
- During the second year, the team members' departments will receive $5,000 to partially offset course reductions ($10,000 for team leaders). ISS faculty fellows who have dual appointments will work out an equitable split of this resource with their department chairs.
- Within the theme project budget, each team member is entitled to a $6,000 individual research stipend. The project member is simply asked to submit a one-page outline of their research project(s) and projected budget to the team leader and ISS Director to access these funds. These funds are generally transferred at the start of the first year of the project.
- Each team member will be provided with an ISS office and deskptop PC. The team will have access to a small shared meeting room.
- The ISS provides reasonable, but limited, administrative assistance to support theme project activities, but does not provide individual administrative support.
- Team leaders and team members are expected to be in residence (i.e., not on leave) during the entire three years of the ISS theme project.
- Team leaders and members are expected to spend at least 50% of their time in their ISS offices during year 2, the in-residence year.
- During the three years of the theme project, team leaders must not take on significant administrative duties (e.g., department chair, director of graduate study, center or institute director, etc.) that would interfere with their ability to move the project forward.
- During year 2, team members must not must not take on significant administrative duties (e.g., department chair, director of graduate study, center or institute director, etc.) that would interfere with their ability to fully participate in all activities of the theme project.
- As team leaders are responsible for moving the group forward, they should be well-organized, well-versed in team facilitation and leadership, and able to manage administrative matters, such as budgets.
All tenure-track Cornell faculty are invited to propose theme projects. Interested faculty are encouraged to discuss their ideas with the ISS Director, before submitting a preproposal. Please contact Anneliese Truame (607-255-3304) to make an appointment.
Project proposers should please email a 3-page, double-spaced preproposal and a curriculum vita to email@example.com by 3:00 p.m. on Monday, October 20, 2014. The preproposal should describe the theme, argue for its importance, and provide a list of relevant Cornell faculty and outside experts.
The preproposal should cover three concerns. First, and foremost, the review committee wants to be convinced that the preproposal contains a scientifically interesting idea and that Cornell has the expertise to make significant progress on this idea. This requires identifying a compelling theme, a list of a dozen potential participants from Cornell and other institutions, a way of advancing knowledge about this theme, and a final product (e.g., book, special edition of a journal, major grant proposal, or external funding for a center or institute). Second, the review committee wants to be convinced that the theme will be of interest to the Cornell community, including faculty, students, and staff from a broad range of disciplines and units across campus. The preproposal should briefly discuss a range of activities that will engage the community. Third, the review committee wants to be convinced that the preproposal writer will be an appropriate leader. This requires that the individual have the intellectual, interpersonal, and organizational skills required to lead scholars from disparate backgrounds in a collaborative research project.
During December 2014, a small number of finalists will be announced, each of whom will be invited to submit a full, 20-page, double-spaced final proposal that describes the theme topic, project activities, and associated participants in greater detail (Feb. 16, 2015 deadline). See Final Proposal Guidelines for more information on that process.
Final Proposal Deadlines & Guidelines
Final Proposal Deadlines
- Monday, February 2, 2015: Initial Team Member List
This is the deadline for finalist team leaders to submit a list of
the names, departments, and colleges of the proposed 5 initial team members, including the team leader,
to the ISS Director. This list can be provided in the body of an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and should include identification of any potential obstacles to their membership.
- Monday, February 16, 2015: Complete Final Proposal
Final proposals are due by 3:00 p.m. on the day of the deadline. Please submit proposals as MS Word or pdf atttachments by email to email@example.com. We prefer proposals in pdf format with all the parts of the application compiled into one document, or as few documents as possible. No hard copies, please.
Final Proposal Guidelines
The final proposal is composed of three parts: the project description, budget and justification, and appendix.
A. Project description
The project description portion of the proposal should include the following six topics and should not exceed 30 double-spaced pages of text.
1. Describe the intellectual core of the project and argue for its significance.
- Reviewers need to be convinced that there is cutting-edge, significant social science at the core of each theme project.
- Be sure to contextualize the project. What literatures and debates does it engage? How will the project’s research move these literatures and debates forward? What research questions do you propose to answer?
- What is your team’s methodological, empirical, and/or theoretical comparative advantage? Why have you included these team members? How does this interdisciplinary team complement and challenge one another?
- Explain how your project will interest social scientists and researchers from a broad range of disciplines and units across campus. How will the project engage faculty, students, and staff?
2. Describe the activities of the theme project.
There are many ways for a project to pursue its intellectual goals and engage diverse audiences – and hence to spend its money. Some of the expected activities of the team include:
- Hosting a one-day off-campus retreat at the beginning of the first year of the project to introduce team members to each other and start the planning process
- Introducing the project with a campus kick-off lecture by the team leader at the end of year 1
- Hosting a weekly research seminar for team members and affiliates during year 2
- Offering some type of course or courses, either undergraduate or graduate level (ideally co-taught), in year 2
- Hosting conferences and workshops
- Hosting lectures, debates, or panels by prominent academics, public intellectuals, and policymakers
- Supporting individual research projects by team members, using the research stipends
- Supporting collaborative research projects among team members with additional research grants
- Hiring postdoctoral associates, graduate students, or undergraduate students to support the research or events of the project
- Closing the project with a major campus capstone lecture by the team leader and team members at the end of year 3
Additional possible events:
- Hosting events such as a film series that will engage a larger public audience, including off-campus community members
- Awarding small dissertation grants via a competition
- Hosting an art event at the Johnson Museum or other campus venue
3. Describe the final product of the theme project.
It is very important that you have at least one (preferably more) major final product, or legacy. Ideal final products are ones that engage most of the team members, that “live” well beyond the 3-year theme project, and that provide stature and prestige to Cornell social science. Examples include a book, a series of journal articles, an edited volume, a major grant proposal, or securing external funding for a center or institute.
4. Identify the 5 initial team members.
Each theme project team will eventually include up to 9 Cornell faculty members, no more than 5 of whom (including the team leader) will be selected by the proposing team leader (i.e., team leader and 4 others, or 2 team leaders and 3 others); these proposed team members are called initial team members. The remaining 3-4 team members are selected via an open competition--see details on the at-large team members in the next section. The total team is expected to span disciplines and colleges.
- The names of the 5 initial team members, including the team leader, must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 1.
- The final proposal should also include the list of 5 initial team members, and should describe, in one paragraph per team member, how each of the proposed team members will uniquely contribute to the project. No more than two members should come from a single department. Care should be taken to identify team members from several disciplines and units.
- As an appendix, please include a three-page biosketch for each proposed team member that details his or her education, relevant publications, presentations, grants, honors, and courses.
5. List potential at-large Cornell team members.
The purpose of this list is to demonstrate that there are sufficient Cornell faculty who might join the team through the at-large search. Once the final proposal is selected, it is posted on the ISS website and all tenure-track faculty may apply to become project team members. The remaining team members are selected by the ISS Director and an ad hoc committee. These faculty can be contacted by the team leader during the proposal process but no guarantee of membership can be given because the decision is made by a committee. Faculty not selected as team members can register to become project affiliates. Affiliates will not receive course release or office space, but they will be acknowledged on the project web page, invited to project events, and may also help plan project activities.
6. Identify external scholars.
Each theme project team should identify visiting faculty from outside Cornell who would be invited to speak at seminars or conferences, or perhaps participate as visiting scholars.
B. Budget and justification
In addition to a project description, the final proposal should include annual budgets and a justification of proposed expenses. It is extremely important to include a specific and justified budget. Below are guidelines for some of the items that might appear in theme project budgets. Thesse are listed in chronological order of expense:
- Publicity for at-large CU faculty team member search: $275 [mandatory]
- Individual research stipend: $6,000 per team member [mandatory]
- 1st year off-site one-day team retreat (e.g. lunch, refreshments, room rental, photo): $750
- Team photograph by CU Photo: $135
- Working catering for 16 biweekly 1st year team meetings: $1200 for bagels & fruit salad; $3,000 for sandwiches & salads
- Kick-off lecture (e.g. advertising, refreshments, room rental, photography, & video): $1,125
- Workshop at ILR Conference Center with about 10 speakers, seating 50 for 1 day (includes travel & lodging, meals & refreshments, room rental, speakers' dinner, photography, video, & publicity): $10,000-$15,000 [add additional for honoraria or public lecture]
- Catering and facility for 28 weekly 2nd-year seminars: $11,200
- External visitors
and seminar speakers:
- Domestic travel and lodging for 1-2 nights: $1000
- International travel and lodging for 1-2 nights: $1,500
- Travel and lodging for 3-5 nights: $3,000
- Honoraria for 1-2 day visits: $500-$1500
- Honoraria for 3-5 day visits: $3,000
- Postdoctoral associate:
- Salary and benefits: $72,600 per year [$50,000 salary, $17,600 endowed benefits, & $5,000 relocation/travel research funds]
- Advertising in 5 disciplinary journals: $1,500
- Graduate research assistant: $15 per hour
- Undergraduate research assistant: $12 per hour
- Capstone lecture (e.g. advertising, refreshments, room rental, photography, & video): $1,125
As mentioned above, the final proposal should include a three-page biosketch for each internal team member as an appendix.
Examples of ISS final proposals are available on our web site. Recent proposals include the Immigration proposal and the Judgment proposal. These public versions of these proposals do not include budget or potential visitor information. Please note that under current guidelines you may have 30 pages of double-spaced text.
|Monday, October 20, 2014
||Team leader submits preproposal by 3:00 p.m. to email@example.com.
||ISS sends theme project finalist decisions after SSIAC meets.
|Monday, February 2, 2015
||Team leader submits initial team member list to the ISS Director. Please submit this list of
the names and departments of the 5 initial team members, including the team leader,
| Monday, February 16, 2015
||Team leader submits complete final proposal by 3:00 p.m. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
||ISS announces theme project announced and search for at-large Cornell team members begins.
| May, 2015
||Proposals for at-large Cornell theme team member positions due by 3pm to email@example.com.
| June, 2015
||ISS announces the at-large theme team members.
|July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2018
||This is the term for the 2015-2018 theme project.
Please direct all inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.