December 15, 2023, 9:00 PM EST
The American Council of Learned Societies invites applications for the inaugural AVDF/ACLS Fellowships for Research on the Liberal Arts, made possible by a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. This peer-reviewed fellowship program provides funding and data training for up to five scholarly projects that draw upon the newly available College and Beyond II (CBII) database.
- Amount: $45,000
- Grant term: July 2024 to July 2025
- Completed applications must be submitted through the ACLS online fellowship and grant administration system no later than 9:00 PM EST, December 15, 2023.
- Applications will be accepted from September 15, 2023, to December 15, 2023.
- Notifications will be sent via email in spring 2024.
- Contact [email protected] with program inquiries.
About the CBII Database
The College and Beyond II (CBII) database is a data resource for studying the impact and outcomes of higher education. It contains student record and transcript data on bachelor’s-seeking undergraduates at 19 public colleges and universities that offer a liberal arts education. These data are linkable to qualitative data on course content and survey data on long-term life outcomes. CBII was produced by a team of researchers from the University of Michigan and supported by a grant from the Mellon Foundation, which recognized the dearth of data to support analysis on the varied psycho-social, civic, and career paths of college students who pursue a liberal arts education.
CBII represents a general-use study; its data support research on a wide array of student experiences and outcomes. The CBII post-college survey of alumni purposefully collected data on domains often hypothesized to be improved by studying the liberal arts, such as democratic engagement, contentment and well-being, tolerance of diversity, career adaptability, and more.
Before the advent of today’s powerful administrative data management systems, it was impossible to study the full path of students’ curricular journeys—the composition of their classes and the characteristics of their classmates—in the way the CBII now allows. By connecting these textured data on the undergraduate experience to later life outcomes, researchers may now test the association between educational experiences and later life outcomes.
The CBII’s survey data capture a wide range of post-college outcomes, personal traits, and views. Proposals from empirical social scientists, humanists, researchers working outside the arts and sciences, and researchers working outside the academy are welcome.
Proposals should be suited to the methods of research that this unusual dataset can support. Studies with a focus on workforce issues, physical or mental health policy, or civic participation are encouraged. The CBII data are intended to support two broad and mutually reinforcing categories of research aims:
- to provide evidence on relationships between measures of undergraduate educational experience and various outcomes to inform public discussions about the benefits of a liberal arts education and to identify ways that undergraduate instruction can be improved;
- to develop, refine, or test measures of the educational experience that are validated, transferable across institutions, and scalable.
Other eligibility requirements include the following.
- Projects must be based at an institution of higher education, a research organization, a research arm of a government agency, or a nongovernmental, not-for-profit, agency.
- Investigators must possess a demonstrated record of using sensitive data according to commonly accepted standards of research ethics and applicable statutory requirements.
- The Primary Investigator (PI) must be a US citizen, permanent resident, Indigenous individual residing in the United States through rights associated with the Jay Treaty of 1794, DACA recipient, asylee, refugee, or an individual granted Temporary Protected Status in the United States. In addition, foreign nationals who have been living in the United States or US territories for three or more years before the application deadline are eligible, provided that they do not establish permanent residence outside the United States during the period of the fellowship.
- The PI must have a PhD or other research-appropriate terminal degree officially conferred before September 28, 2022, and have an appointment that is eligible to be a principal investigator at an institution.
- Fellows will need to be able to participate in CBII’s data use training, to be hosted in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at ICPSR in summer 2024.
- Fellows and their institution will ultimately need to be able to agree to the CBII’s data use agreements.
Projects must demonstrate evidence of preliminary work as well as the potential to impact scholarship and educational practice.
Peer reviewers in this program are asked to evaluate all eligible proposals on the following criteria:
- the project’s clarity with respect to how it will engage various publics to advance society’s understanding of liberal arts education and why;
- the feasibility of the project and the likelihood that the applicant will execute the work within the proposed time frame;
- the scholarly record and career trajectory of the applicant, taking into account relative advantages and constraints on resources for the proposed project and over the course of the applicant’s career;
- the potential of the award to advance ACLS’s commitment to inclusive excellence, which is based on the principle that humanistic scholarship benefits from institutional diversity and the inclusion of voices that have been historically underrepresented in the academy due to race, gender, class and other aspects of identity;
- the proposal’s demonstration of an understanding of how the CBII’s data could be used to investigate particular scholarly issues of broad societal import;
- for quantitative analyses: a project plan that describes how the investigation will address questions of selection effects versus treatment effects and a discussion of whether the research will seek to assert causation or correlation in the research hypotheses.
Applications must contain the following components:
Project Narrative. Seven pages, double-spaced, in Times New Roman 11-point font. The narrative must include the following sections:
- Project overview and intended intervention. This section should provide an overview of the work, including a clear articulation of the project’s research aims, an assessment of any potential barriers to achieving those goals, and a rationale for the project’s potential to bolster public understanding of the impact of liberal arts education. Applicants should describe, briefly but specifically, the project team’s plans, methods, and rationale. What is the significance of the specific topic and for which target audiences? Applicants should discuss both the programmatic ambitions of the project and its methodological approach, especially with regard to the structure of the CBII dataset.
- Data Ethics: Applicants should describe their experience and capacity in working with restricted access data.
Bibliography. No more than two pages, double-spaced, in Times New Roman 11-point font. The bibliography should reflect works cited in the proposal and other key scholarship from the fields in which the project will intervene.
Project Timeline. No more than two pages, double-spaced, in Times New Roman 11-point font.
The project timeline should demonstrate a coherent plan for the development and execution of the project, including the sequence of tasks to be accomplished within the grant period (July 2024 to July 2025).
Budget and Budget Description. No more than two pages, in Times New Roman 11-point font. The budget should provide a detailed account of the proposed use of the grant funds, such as purchasing equipment or software, funding graduate or undergraduate research assistants, or planning conferences, round tables, or focus groups. Grant funds may not pay for institutional overhead. However, direct administrative costs, such as office expenses and an honorarium for office assistance, are allowed. If applicable, the budget plan can include any proposed cost-sharing measures undertaken by the host institution or a third party.
Please include a narrative that summarizes why your proposed budget and timeline are reasonable for the work you are proposing. In the narrative, address the following questions:
- What are some known and potential key risks or challenges that may impose barriers to the success of the project? How could you mitigate these risks?
- What are one-time investments (e.g., investment in infrastructure) and ongoing costs (e.g., new staff, purchase of software licenses) that the project will need to assume as it grows?
- What are some potential financial and non-financial resources (e.g., in-kind support, near-term partnerships on campus or off, etc.) that the project can access?
Project staffing. Please provide a list of the names and institutional affiliations of project team members, along with a description of no more than one paragraph of each member’s role(s) and capacities on the project.
Institutional Verification. To be submitted separately via ACLS’s online portal. The institutional verification should be submitted by a senior official of the principal investigator’s home institution or the institution hosting the project (i.e., a dean, provost, president, or other appropriate senior administrator). The form, which features a series of check boxes and a 500-word-limit text box, asks the institutional representative to confirm that the institution’s existing infrastructure complements and supports the research to be undertaken and the related program activities to be undertaken for the specified project, and how the activities supported by the grant would be counted for purposes of promotion and tenure at the host institution. It also requires that the Institution acknowledges that it is willing, in principle, to agree to the terms of the ICPSR CBII data use agreement.
Please send questions to [email protected].