November 28, 2011 — A grant program that funds research in the humanities, social sciences and arts by faculty from the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences is expanding to include collaborative, interdisciplinary faculty projects, the College and the Office of the Vice President for Research announced Nov. 21.
The announcement came at a reception in the Rotunda's Lower West Oval Room to honor the 168 faculty members from across the College who previously received the Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts grants, which supply up to $3,000 for an activity or expense associated with a scholarly or research project.
The grants are administered jointly by the College and the Office of the Vice President for Research, and both College Dean Meredith Jung-En Woo and Vice President for Research Thomas C. Skalak praised the quality of past projects and the potential for future collaborative work.
"The projects not only accelerate College faculty productivity, they are essential for ensuring institutional intellectual diversity," Woo said. "This program has touched many, many College faculty members. In turn, their scholarship provides a rich intellectual environment for the entire University. We are delighted to partner with the Vice President for Research on this program."
Skalak said the decision to expand the program to include collaborative proposals came after a review showed that many past grant-funded initiatives had naturally grown into larger, collaborative research projects.
"When we looked back, we were delighted to see how many faculty members had participated and how many different kinds of creative work and scholarship had occurred," Skalak said. "It had touched a lot of people."
At the reception, associate politics professor Nicholas Winter described the role his grant played in his research into implications of gender roles in American politics.
"The grant let me run a small national survey," Winter said. "I'm looking at gender and politics, and in particular the ways in which our stereotypes about the parties and our stereotypes about men and women overlap and intersect in ways that political scientists and political scientists have not really explored."
With the grant, Winter was able to collect data from a national sample looking at the gender associations of political parties and issues. Now he's researching what happens to candidates who either do or don't live up to the stereotypes of their gender and party.
Hanadi Al-Samman, an assistant professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures, has used the grant funds to support field research, including interviews with authors in Syria, Egypt and Paris, as well as for collaboration with colleagues and to facilitate inviting Arab authors to U.Va.
"These grants enable our institution and faculty to remain faithful to Mr. Jefferson's vision of a university where excellent research and teaching go hand-in-hand," Al-Samman said.
Skalak said academic institutions are best situated for research, as they are able to draw on a wealth of diverse faculty experience and expertise. The world's problems are complex ones, and opening the grants to collaborative projects that bridge departments and disciplines seemed a logical extension, he said.
"We hope this will help stimulate the academic culture. Language scholars and scientists, designers and composers, artists and software engineers, everyone working in these kinds of spaces can feel part of the academic community, and find ways that individual work can have an impact in ways that no one might have imagined without collaboration," he said.
The next application deadline is March 1. Faculty interested in more information can contact Braden Hassett at email@example.com.