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Research Working Groups - Call for Proposals

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Faculty, senior associates, and graduate students are encouraged to form Research Working Groups in areas of mutual scholarly interest. Research Working Groups involve collaborations among Development Sociology faculty and graduate students, faculty and graduate students in other departments at Cornell, and scholars and development practitioners throughout the world. Research Working Groups concentrate and coordinate research activity in particular substantive and methodological areas, sponsor special seminars and lectures that examine the latest research on development issues, and provide the organizational infrastructure for sustained cooperative research in development sociology. There are two rounds of competition for Research Working Groups each year, with application deadlines on October 1 (with awards announced November 1) and March 1 (with awards announced April 1).


Polson funds can be used to underwrite the costs of regular scholarly interaction and enhance the likelihood of productive and innovative research collaboration in high priority areas of global development. Funds cannot be used to cover salary replacement, summer salary, graduate student assistantships, off-campus conference participation, on-going program-related expenses, equipment, and dissertation research. While each Research Working Group has its own particular goals, one or more of the following is expected:

  • Hold an international conference focused on a particular area of development scholarship and/or policy
  • Prepare a proposal for obtaining funding for a cooperative research project
  • Prepare curricular or other pedagogical materials to enhance teaching in a particular area of development sociology
  • Publish a co-authored or co-edited book
  • Prepare outreach-oriented or policy related materials that build bridges between academic scholarship on development and public policy or program administration


Research Working Groups must be organized by at least one faculty member or senior associate in the Department of Development Sociology.


Most Research Working Groups plan activities that span a two-year period. Groups are initially supported for one year, with the possibility of a second year of funding contingent on a second proposal that would be prepared during the initial year. Some groups may be able to accomplish their goals in a single year; when a second year of funding is requested it will be contingent on accomplishments in the first year and on the availability of funds. Research Working Group grants will expire one year from the date of the award. A no-cost extension may be requested, but will require a summary of accomplishments and a plan and timeline for completion of the remaining activities.


Funding for the first year will normally range from $1,000 to $3,000 and total funding for a Research Working Group will not exceed $10,000.


Proposals for Research Working Groups should address the following:

  • How the proposed activities might contribute to the development of theoretical and conceptual advances that can inform research questions or innovative methodological approaches that will advance research, teaching, or outreach on development
  • How the proposed group will contribute to the Department of Development Sociology and Cornell University beyond addressing the Polson Institute’s focus on development studies
  • Activities for which financial support is needed, along with a budget
  • Expected outcomes of the Research Working Group
  • Participants, including leadership
  • Proposals for the second year of an existing Research Working Group should summarize the group's accomplishments and indicate how additional funding will contribute to continued productivity and the accomplishment of original and/or new scholarly goals and objectives.


Proposals for Research Working Groups should be submitted electronically before 11:59PM on the deadline dates to polsoninstitute@cornell.edu