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Mellon Grand Challange Awards


Mellon Grand Challenge Exploratory Awards Call for Proposals

Global Policy Research Institute Purdue University
In collaboration with
Purdue University Libraries and Purdue University Press
College of Liberal Arts
Discovery Park
West Lafayette, IN 47906

[Proposals Due – Jun 30, 2014] [Award Notification – Aug 8, 2014]

[Call for Proposals Updated 06/02/14
with clarification around expectation of library faculty involvement in proposals] 

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Thanks to support provided by a recent generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Global Policy Research Institute (GPRI) requests the submission of proposals which will catalyze the teaming of humanities and social sciences (HSS) faculty members with colleagues from the natural sciences, engineering or technology (STEM) fields to address the kind of large scale, public policy problems referred to by the White House as “21st Century Grand Challenges.” As described in The Heart of the Matter, the recent report from the Academy of Arts and Sciences, GPRI believes that “humanists and social scientists are critical in providing cultural, historical, and ethical expertise and empirical analysis to efforts that address issues such as the provision of clean air and water, food, health, energy, and universal education.” The aim of the current funding opportunity is to provide real examples of HSS-informed engagement with the Grand Challenges.

A total of $300,000 will be distributed in the form of grants, with the number and amount of the awards depending on the nature and quality of the submissions received. These grants are intended to support the development of proofs of concept rather than complete programs of research. It is hoped that research activities developed through this program may lead to competitive applications for federal or other governmental sources of support. With this in mind, a special emphasis is placed on communicating the potential of the approaches developed to assist public policy makers in making complex decisions to solve major economic and societal problems. Each funded project will be provided with professional assistance in the retrieval and organization of information and in identifying and communicating with public policy audiences. Proposals including a Libraries faculty member will be eligible for supplementary funding of roughly $10,000 to support that individual’s work. The request should be included in the project budget and explained in the budget justification.


PIs must be current faculty members at Purdue University and approved by Sponsored Program Services to serve as a Principal Investigator for an outside agency. At least one PI must hold a primary appointment in the College of Liberal Arts and project teams must include at least one Purdue-based STEM researcher. Proposals must include faculty from multiple colleges/departments and be multidisciplinary as stated above. Preference will be given to projects that involve undergraduate researchers and to those that apply knowledge or perspectives from the humanities, as opposed to the social sciences. Personnel from Purdue’s regional campuses are eligible to apply as co-investigators. Faculty from other universities may be included as consultants, or reimbursed for travel expenses. However, funding which involves subcontracting with other institutions will not be provided, as the primary focus of this program is to incentivize work by Purdue researchers.

Application and Submission Process

The deadline for receipt of proposals is 5:00 p.m. E.T., June 30, 2014. Proposals should be attached as a single PDF to an e-mail message addressed to Amber Thompson, Projects typically will have a start date of September 1, 2014, for a period of 18 months, although other timing may be considered.

Budget Requirements

Proposals must include a budget prepared by the investigator’s pre-award office. A COEUS budget is to be included with the proposal. Due to restrictions related to the source of funding, F&A charges will not be allowable and, therefore, should not be included in the COEUS budget. If a graduate assistant is part of the proposal, all fringes except fee remission may be included. Fee remission should, however, be listed as cost-share. For proposals that are awarded funding, it has been arranged that the cost of fee remissions will be covered internally.

Cover Page

Proposals are to be attached to a completed Proposal Submission Form (the pre‐awards office will prepare this form) and should follow this sequence:

Page 1. Face page, including:

Proposed title
Principal investigators
Total budget
Project period

Pages 2-6. Research plan, limited to 5 pages, single-spaced, one inch margins, and no smaller than 11 point font. Proposals must address the review criteria below.

Page 7. References

Two-page (max) biographical sketch for each PI or Co-PI/investigator
Two-page (max) current and pending support for each participant
Budget, as prepared through COEUS by the college’s pre-award office

Review Criteria


  • Demonstrated alignment with a relevant Grand Challenge/pressing public policy issue (required)
  • Application of knowledge or perspectives from a humanities or social sciences discipline (required)
  • Explicit cross-campus/multi-discipline collaborative team (required)
  • Innovation shown in the means by which linkages between HSS and STEM is achieved (required)


  • Quality: The proposed research, workshop or conference will meet high standards of scholarship and should contribute to literatures in the humanities and social sciences as well as STEM disciplines.
  • Leadership: The investigators must have a strong track record of innovation in problem-solving and preferably some prior experience of public policy work.
  • Multidisciplinary approach: A team should submit the proposal with the skills needed for a holistic approach within the intent of the solicitation (including technical, social, and economic factors). Projects focused on a single discipline will not be funded.
  • Scope: The proposed activity must enhance the visibility and impact of Purdue University’s strengths in multidisciplinary research, education, service, and outreach to inform decision-makers on policy issues.
  • Potential impact: The result of the proposed activity should inform policy or decision makers of viable options and possible recommendations for addressing important policy issues.
  • Involvement of students: Proposal teams that involve undergraduates in their research will be preferred.
  • Sustainability: The means for sustaining/continuing the research project following the grant period with follow-on resources must be identified.
  • Leverage: Proposals will be judged on how well and creatively resources are leveraged (intellectually and internationally) to enhance research success and build research and education capacity.
  • Involvement of library faculty member: Proposals will be preferred that include a faculty member from Purdue Libraries as a key member of the proposal team and clearly articulate their role in the proposed activity. Paul Bracke, Associate Dean for Research in the Libraries, would be the appropriate person to contact for matchmaking assistance. He is


All publications and materials produced with the funding provided must acknowledge GPRI and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Electronic copies of final publications (or author-submitted version, in the case of publications where copyright would otherwise prevent a full copy) must be delivered to GPRI for upload to the Purdue e-Pubs repository. The successful teams will be expected to engage fully with the team of information and communication experts assigned to them to develop appropriate communication vehicles targeted at specified policy audiences.

Post-Award and Reporting Requirements

All proposal teams are required to submit presentations on progress every six months at an internal workshop which at least one PI or key staff member must attend.

Within 30 days after the end of the project period, all proposal teams are required to submit a final written report (5-page max plus one-page financial summary)

All proposal teams will work with assigned library and publishing staff to develop at least one publication output.

Contact Information

Questions about proposal submission should be directed to Amber Thompson, Senior Policy Associate, Global Policy Research Institute. E-mail:; 765-496-6392 (office), 765-427-1908 (mobile).


Contact Us

Global Policy Research Institute
Purdue University
The Schowe House
1341 Northwestern Ave.
West Lafayette, IN 47906