Call for Proposals: Democracy Labs – Deadline January 26, 2018

The College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences announces a new call for up to three Democracy Labs that bring faculty, Ph.D. students, post-docs, and undergraduates together to work on a project addressing enduring and contemporary challenges to democracy.

We welcome proposals that identify challenges to and within democracy such as: poverty and joblessness; social and income inequality; refugee crises; eroding support for democratic institutions and norms; corruption and authoritarianism; pressures of food and water shortages; and the changing media environment.  Proposals are welcomed however on themes and issues beyond those listed above.

By launching these labs under the banner of our Democracy Initiative, the University of Virginia seeks to catalyze a series of interconnected research and teaching projects that study how democracies have fared in their efforts to achieve legitimacy, stability, civil equality, accountability, prosperity, and resilience in the face of contemporary and past challenges.

Democracy Lab proposals should include:

  • A statement of the challenge to or within democracy that the project will address through research, teaching, and public engagement activities.
  • A list of current UVA participants (e.g. faculty “fellows,” post-docs, and graduate students who may be involved in the project, and their potential roles).
  • A research/teaching/public engagement plan that lays out what activities will take place in academic year 2018-19 and in the one or two years that follow.  The project should be designed to be completed by June 2021 at the latest.
  • A short description of a co-taught “Forum” that will bring the issues explored in the project to first- and second-year undergraduates in 2019-2021 (To learn more about the Forums, visit
  • A statement explaining how the project draws on contributions from more than one department or school and contributes to the strength of research and teaching programs in more than one unit.
  • A proposal for a tenure-track hire to bolster the research, teaching, and public engagement activities of the democracy lab, in ways that build strength across department or school lines.  This hire will be funded by the provost’s Cluster Hire initiative, which requires hires to involve more than one unit.  These searches will take place in AY 2018-19, with a start date of August 25, 2019.
  • A proposal for how your lab could use newly-available space in Rosslyn, Virginia, for research, teaching, and public engagement, available in August 2018.
  • Letters of support from the chair or dean of all units contributing to the project.
  • Short (2-3 page) CV’s of all current UVA faculty.
  • A budget outline.

Please limit proposals to 5 to 7 pages, plus the budget, letters, and CV’s. Proposals not funded in this first round of applications may be revised and re-submitted in subsequent years. If you have a concept in mind for a lab but are unsure if it meets the criteria above, please be proactive and ask for assistance. The goal is to bring as many ideas to the fore as possible.

Budget notes

We envision providing funding support of up to a maximum of $1 million annually for each lab. Please note that a portion of the budget will be dedicated to offsetting current costs (e.g., faculty teaching buy-outs, graduate student support), while other components can be for new, incremental activities.  The Dean’s Office will provide assistance in preparing budgets and offers the following guidelines on typical budget items:

  • Partial teaching buyouts to provide faculty leaders and faculty fellows with the time to devote to this project.
  • Summer wages for nine-month faculty who will have significant responsibilities that extend into the summer.
  • Post-doc(s).
  • Graduate fellowship(s) for current PhD students who will work in this lab in lieu of serving as a TA for one or two years.
  • Wages for undergraduate students who work in the lab.
  • Wages for a graduate student who provides admin support.
  • Visiting scholar(s)
  • The costs of supporting a co-taught Forum, including backfill funds for departments that lose teaching.
  • Research expenses.
  • Visiting speakers, conferences, and/or other events.

The successful proposal will be selected from among those submitted based on: 1) how it addresses contemporary or enduring challenges facing democracies; 2) how it leverages existing faculty expertise; 3) how the activities help train graduate students and serve our undergraduate students; and 4) how the lab can lead to opportunities for public engagement.

Information meetings for all interested faculty:

Monday, October 16, at 2:00 pm in New Cabell Hall 504 (Schoppa)
Tuesday, October 17, at 2 pm in New Cabell Hall 504 (Fiorani)

Proposal Deadline: January 26, 2018.  Results will be announced by mid-March to enable departments to adjust teaching loads in 18-19.

Please submit proposals to Mieke Zylstra.

Please direct questions to Len Schoppa or Francesca Fiorani.

For additional context: Dean Ian Baucom's cover letter for the call