Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowships

Call for Proposals for Fall 2020

Limited Submission Deadline: July 24, 2020

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s New Directions Fellowships provide support for exceptional faculty in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who received their doctorates between 2008 and 2014. Fellows pursue systematic training and academic competencies outside their own special fields in order to advance a cross-disciplinary research agenda. This fellowship does not aim to facilitate short-term outcomes, such as completion of a book. Rather, it is a longer-term investment in the scholar’s intellectual range and productivity.

Priority will be given to applications that manifest

  1. a strong focus on issues of race, ethnicity, and migration
  2. a focus on filling in the gaps left by more traditional narratives in the history of the Americas

Proposals from eligible CHASS faculty are solicited by July 24, 2020 for review by the Center for Ideas and Society’s Advisory Committee. One proposal will be selected for full development and submission by the Foundation’s deadline of September 28, 2020. Please do not contact the Mellon Foundation regarding this opportunity. Rather, please direct all inquiries to the Center for Ideas and Society.

Serious interdisciplinary research often requires established scholar-teachers to pursue formal substantive and methodological training in addition to the PhD. New Directions Fellowships assist faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who seek to acquire systematic training outside their own areas of special interest. The program is intended to enable scholars in the humanities to work on problems that interest them most, at an appropriately advanced level of sophistication. In addition to facilitating the work of individual faculty members, these awards should benefit scholarship in the humanities more generally by encouraging the highest standards in cross-disciplinary research.

Eligible candidates will be faculty members who were awarded a doctorate in the humanities or humanistic social sciences within the last six to twelve years and whose research interests call for formal training in a discipline other than the one in which they are expert. Such training may consist of coursework or other programs of organized study. It may take place either at fellows’ home institution or elsewhere, as appropriate. Although it is anticipated that many fellows will seek to acquire deeper knowledge of other fields within the broadly defined sphere of the humanities and humanistic social sciences, proposals to study disciplines farther afield are eligible.

The principal criteria for selection are

(1) the overall significance of the research
(2) the case for the importance of extra-disciplinary training for furthering the research
(3) the likely ability of the candidate to derive satisfactory results from the training program proposed
(4) a well-developed plan for acquiring the necessary training within a reasonable period of time

Priority will be given to applications that manifest

1) a strong focus on issues of race, ethnicity, and migration


2) a focus on filling in the gaps left by more traditional narratives in the history of the Americas

In an effort to recognize and address travel and access constraints related to the COVID-19 global pandemic, supplemental funds up to $15,000 will be available for scholars who require access to collections that have not yet been digitized and cataloged, or who require the paid support of a librarian or archivist to assist with research where collections are closed to outside visitors because of the pandemic. For example, payments from this supplement may be budgeted for library or special collections partners who would work closely with the New Directions fellow to identify and define archival or library collections that can be digitized and made available for study by the fellow and—when feasible–to members of the general public.

All applicants should include a concise plan of no more than two paragraphs outlining alternative arrangements should research activities be constrained by the long-term continuation or a resurgence of the COVID-19 or other pandemic.

If funded, fellows will receive

(1) the equivalent of one academic year’s salary
(2) two summers of additional support, each at the equivalent two-ninths of the previous academic year salary
(3) tuition or course fees or equivalent direct costs associated with the fellows’ training programs

To permit flexibility in meeting individual scholars’ needs, these funds may be expended over a period not to exceed three full academic years following the date of the award. The award normally can be delayed for a maximum of one year, if circumstances require it. The Foundation also expects the fellow’s home institution to use budgetary relief resulting from the award for academic purposes, preferably in the fellow’s department.

The budget should include items for salary and standard fringe benefits (including yearly increases), projected training costs, and project-related travel. The budget may include funds to cover expenses related to attending vital professional meetings. In addition, lodging related to research and training activities can be covered for stays of no longer than a semester. Requests for housing supplements may be included in the proposed budget for longer periods when the projected cost of living in the city where study is to be pursued exceeds substantially the costs incurred when the fellow is working at the home institution.

No overhead or indirect costs are permitted, and no funding for staging conferences, symposia, seminars, or events related to the project is allowed. The Foundation assumes the needs for equipment or research assistants will be met by the fellow’s home institution.

Final budgets commonly range from $175,000 to $250,000; the maximum is $300,000. The term of the grant should cover a minimum of two years.

Note that the COVID-19 $15,000 research supplement is separate and additional to this budget.

This is a limited submission competition. UC Riverside has been invited to participate in this program and asked to solicit proposals from eligible faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences wishing to further their research through engaging in programs of study in fields other than their own. The call for proposals will be administered through the Center for Ideas and Society, with review by the CIS Advisory Committee and proposal development supported by Cassie Riger, Senior Director in UCR Foundation Development.

The Center for Ideas and Society will communicate the particulars of both the program and the application process to faculty in all the relevant academic departments and programs. Following an internal competition overseen by the Center’s faculty advisory committee, UC Riverside will forward one fully developed proposal to the Foundation. The Foundation will convene a panel of distinguished scholars to choose 10-15 finalists to present to the Foundation’s Trustees. Institutions and individual recipients will be notified and, if necessary, will work with the Foundation staff to develop their final requests. Applications will not be considered by the review panel if they fail to comply with these guidelines. Once the Foundation’s Trustees have given their final approval, grants will be awarded to, and administered by, the fellows’ home institutions.

Proposals from eligible UCR faculty for the internal limited submission process should follow the proposal template guidelines below.

Complete applications are due on July 24, 2020, by 11:59 pm. Submit PDF versions of required documents via email to, subject line: [LAST NAME] New Directions Fellowship. CC:

Proposal Template:

  1. Applicant information: Name, department, rank, year of Ph.D. completion
  2. Statement of availability to work on the full proposal in August and September 2020 with appropriate UCR staff
  3. Summary of research project(s) to date. (300 words)
  4. Proposed systematic training outside applicant’s own areas of special interest and site where such training will take place. (200 words)
  5. Necessity, purpose and/or urgency of the proposed new direction. (200 words)
  6. Significance of applicant’s research overall and the manner in which this new direction help develop the field. (300 words)
  7. Explicit connections to the Mellon Foundation’s request for proposals that address issues of race, ethnicity, and migration or that fill gaps left by more traditional narratives in the history of the Americas. (200 words)
  8. Short CV (2 pages)

For additional information on the fellowship program, visit The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s website

For questions about the limited submission process, contact Associate Director Katharine Henshaw: