Purdue University

Request for Proposals

The Chinese Spirituality and Society Program (CSSP) will provide a total of $500,000 of research grants to Chinese scholars to support research projects through the open Request for Proposal (RFP) competition. There will be two types of grants: Research Center Grants and Individual Grants. We plan to provide 2 to 3 Research Center grants and about 10 Individual grants. The number and size of the awards will depend upon the letters of intent and full proposals we receive.


The RFP projects are to be carried out from January 2011 to December 2012 and must be completed within two years.


“Research Center Grant” is to support a well-defined research project at a research center or institute in China. The project may involve multiple researchers within the center and collaborators in other universities. We welcome scholars from Europe and the United States to serve as advisors or co-principal investigators for the project. The center must have demonstrated institutional support from the university and/or other relevant authorities, such as release time for the Principal Investigators, staff support, office space, financial support to the research or its related conference, and so on. The Research Center Grants vary in amount from $50,000 up to $100,000 depending upon the value of the project and actual costs.


“Individual Grant” is to support a well-designed project carried out by one or two researchers. The individual grant varies from $10,000 up to $30,000, and will be awarded to the institution or the individual who will be required to document and report the expenses to the CSS Program.


Regardless the amount requested, the itemized budget must be carefully prepared with well-explained justifications. Funding for projects will be awarded directly from Purdue University. The grant award will be made in 2 installments each year contingent upon satisfactory progress of research and participation in the training workshops.


All proposals will be judged in two stages. In the first stage, the applicant should submit a 3-page letter of intent (LOI) describing their proposed projects as clearly, thoroughly, and concisely as possible. A panel of judges will review and evaluate the LOIs and will select a subset of about 30 of the most promising applicants.


The 30 selected applicants will participate in the first training workshop in China and present their proposals (The actual date and location will be announced later). After the workshop, these invitees will be invited to submit their full research proposals.


In the second stage, the invited applicant should submit the full proposal by September 1, 2010. A panel of judges will review and evaluate the full proposals and recommend the strongest for awards.



The CSS Program welcomes research proposals of Chinese religion and spirituality in line with the principles, theories and methods of the social scientific study. The core elements of the proposed project must be empirical research on religion or spirituality in mainland China.


  • Scholars of social sciences, including but not limited to religious studies, sociology, anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, ethnology, and history are encouraged to apply.
  • Scholars based in departments of philosophy, literature and other humanities disciplines are welcome to apply, but this program does not fund projects that are primarily philosophical, theological, or textual studies.
  • Scholars and Ph.D. students from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and overseas may apply, but the proposed project must be an empirical study of religion or spirituality in mainland China or a comparative study of mainland China and another society.


Research Questions

We are especially interested in projects examining religion as the independent variable in its relationship with society, or the impact of religion and spirituality on individuals, groups, communities, organizations, and institutions. Some examples of research topics and questions that are of interest for funding include, but not limited to:

1. Religion and entrepreneurship


  • Does faith lead to trust in business relations? What kinds of religion or what aspects of religion or spirituality lead to trust? What kinds of trust are conducive to a market economy?
  • Is honesty rational and profitable in the market economy? Does religion contribute to honesty?
  • What motivates entrepreneurs or corporations to produce public goods? Does faith lead entrepreneurs and corporations to social responsibility?
  • Does different religion/spirituality cultivate different ethics and produce different behavior and management models?

 2. Spirituality and moral values


  • What moral values are distinctive or common in Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, Islam, or folk/popular religion that are conducive to the market economy and society today? How can these values be measured empirically and objectively?
  • What are the moral and ethical functions of different religions? How are religious or spiritual movements addressing the ethical challenges in Chinese society and contributing to the construction of a harmonious society?
  • During the market transition and social transformation, how do religious beliefs and practices impede or inhibit corruption?

3. Social capital and spiritual capital


  • What roles do social capital and spiritual capital play in economic life, social life, and religious life?
  • What kinds of spiritual beliefs, ethics, ritual and social practices, and religious organizations are conducive to the healthy development of the market economy?
  • What is the relationship between the current revivals of religions and the development of the economy? Are there links between the emerging religious competition and economic competition? How does religion affect economic behavior at both the macro and micro levels?
  • Does faith lead to social trust, generosity, gratitude, or a sense of purpose of life? How does this happen?

4. Religion and the construction of a civil society


  • How does religion or spiritual belief, religious practice and organization influence the social behavior of people?
  • How are the various religious or spiritual movements changing Chinese society? Which religion or spirituality is becoming the spiritual and social capital for a civil society?
  • Does religion contribute to integrating migrants into the host community, or contribute to maintaining their relationships with the home community?
  • What are the relationships between religions identity and ethnic identity, political identity, and national identity?

5. The red, black, and gray markets of religion


  • How do various religious or spiritual groups operate in the red market, the black market, or the gray market?
  • How do different religious or spiritual groups compete in the red market, the black market, the gray market, or across different kinds of markets?
  • How do various religious or spiritual groups in different kinds of markets recruit members?
  • How do various religious or spiritual groups in different kinds of markets interact with various government agencies?
  • Under what conditions or circumstances can a group move from one kind of market to another kind of market? What changes does a religious or spiritual group have to make before and after the shift from one kind of market to another kind of market?


Criteria of Evaluation

The criteria by which the proposals will be judged are:


  • Theoretical and Social Significance: Does the proposed study address an important question in the social scientific study of religion? Does it account for and build upon the most important findings of prior research?
  • Approach and Methods: Are the conceptual framework, research design, methods, and analyses adequately developed and specified and are they rigorous and fitting for the specific questions and goals of the project?
  • Investigators: Are the researchers well qualified to execute the project, including demonstrating a genuine interest in the social scientific study of religion? Do the investigators have the ability to communicate their research findings in Chinese academia and/or international academia?
  • Financial Responsibility: Do the budget and explanations convey reasonable uses of funds and smart budgeting for the proposed scope of the project? Does the project employ effective collaborative arrangements or take advantage of special opportunities or available synergies in the research enterprise?
  • Institutional and Collateral Support: Is there evidence of real institutional support for the project? Are resources available to leverage support for the longer-term development of the ongoing research of the research center? (This is required of the institutional grants, but optional for the individual grants.)


Format and content of Letter of Intent (LOI)

Deadline: December 15, 2009 (11:59 pm Eastern USA Time)


The letter of intent can be written either in Chinese or English, which will be evaluated on an equal basis. If the LOI is written in Chinese, an English abstract (about 500 words) is required.

The Letter of Intent (LOI) should be no longer than three pages (single spaced, Times Roman 12 point font, 1 inch margins; Word or rtf format) in length (not including cover and the bibliography).


The cover of the LOI should include the title of the proposed project, the name(s) of the principal investigator(s), e-mail address, phone number, name and address of the sponsoring institution (e.g., university, research center), and the amount requested.


The content of the LOI should include:


  • Description of the research design.
  • Explanation of how the proposed project fits within the CSS Program.
  • Explanation of the methodology for carrying out the proposed research project.
  • A concise statement of the importance of the research project and the contribution that it will make to the social scientific study of religion in China.
  • Approximate proposed budget that reflects the actual cost.
  • Qualifications of the Principal Investigator(s) to implement the proposed research project.
  • A list of faculty, scholars, graduate students and other contributors to the research center's proposed plan of activity, their titles and institutional affiliations.


In addition to the LOI, a curriculum vitae of each Principal Investigator should be included, listing education history, employment history, exact citation of publications, past research projects, and other relevant information. You may also include one to two published or to be published articles, and a brochure, website, or other description of the center and institution hosting the research project (All documents must be submitted in pdf or photo format) .


Letters of Intent and any accompanying documentation (Word, rtf, pdf format) must be submitted by email to crcs@purdue.edu no later than December 15, 2009 (11:59 pm Eastern USA Time). We will notify you within 24 hours upon receipt. If you do not receive our notification within 24 hours, please contact us by phone, and resubmit your proposal and all accompanying documents as soon as possible.


Center on Religion and Chinese Society
Phone No.: (765)494-5801
Fax No.:(765)494-6938


Format and content of Full Proposal (BY INVITATION ONLY)

Deadline: September 1, 2010 (11:59 pm Eastern USA Time)

The submission of full proposal is only open to the 30 invitees selected based on the letters of intent. We do not accept any full proposal without invitation.


The full proposal can be written in Chinese or English. If it is in Chinese, an English abstract (about 1000 words) must be submitted along with the application.


The full proposal should be no longer than 10 pages (single spaced, Times Roman 12 point font, 1 inch margins; Word or rtf format) in length (not including cover and the bibliography).


The content of the full proposal should include:


1. Cover letter
Please include the following information:


  • Project Title
  • Amount requested
  • Duration of research
  • Name and title of researchers


2. Project Summary (one-page limit)
The proposal must include a one-page, single-spaced summary stating the research objectives and methods to be employed in the project, and the expected outcome.


3. Project Description (maximum of 10 pages, single-spaced)

The description should include:


  • Research hypotheses
  • Methodology
  • Theoretical significance
  • Detailed description of how the research project is going to carry out.
  • Explanation of how the proposed project fits within the CSS Program.
  • A concise statement of the importance of the research project and the contribution that it will make to the social scientific study of religion in China.
  • A statement indicating what can be accomplished during the grant term and what is expected to result after the grant term has ended.


4. Project Timeline

A detail description of the major activities of the project.


5. Curriculum Vitae

All the principal investigators and co-investigators need to submit a full CV.


6. Detailed Budget Summary

A detailed budget and budget justification must be included.


7. Letters of support from sponsoring university or institution


Chinese Spirituality and Society Program Judging Panel

(We will invite bilingual scholars of Chinese religion and society. Scholars who are submitting proposals to the this program may not serve as judges.)




October 15, 2009


Initial announcement of RFP

December 15, 2009


Letter of Intent (LOI) is due (11:59 pm Eastern USA Time)

March 1, 2010


Announcement of selected LOIs

June, 2010

First Workshop and LOI presentation for the 30 invitees (In mainland China, for two weeks, location and date will be determined soon)

September 10, 2010


Full proposal is due (11:59 pm Eastern USA Time)

Mid October, 2010


Meeting of the review panel

November 1, 2010


Winners announced

January 1, 2011


RFP projects research begins

June, 2011


Principal Investigators of grantees attend the second workshop at Purdue University for a month (research methods & data analysis)

June, 2012


Principal Investigators of grantees attend the third workshop at Purdue University for a month (data analysis & writing for publication)

July, 2013


Final Conference


Click to download the PDF format of RPF


Stone Hall Room 347, 700 W. State Street, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 Phone: (765)494-5801 Fax: (765)494-6938 Email: CRCS@purdue.edu
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