Independent Research Fellowship



Starting in 2019, the Political Economy Project launched a two-year pilot program to offer funding that will allow qualified students to initiate their own program of directed reading under the guidance of a faculty mentor, for periods of anywhere from five to ten weeks. The fellowships can be used during the Winter break, or during any off-term. These stipends, ranging between $1500 and $3000, will be designed to replace job or intern activities, freeing up a period of concentrated full-time reading on a topic chosen by the student. Students who are planning to combine this grant with other part-time commitments, paid or unpaid, up to a limit of 12 hours a week, may do so. (Feel free to contact Prof. Clark with any questions you may have about eligibility.)

These PEP research fellowships need not culminate in any written work, or contribute to research for an honor's thesis (though they may do so). Instead, they aim to encourage students to broaden and deepen their education outside the classroom by devising an independent agenda of directed reading. This might involve pursuing a line of inquiry, a particular idea, a body of theory, a classic work and its critics, or some other unexplored intellectual trail brought to their attention in their coursework, in extracurricular events or in conversation with faculty. Proposals may be made on any topic, so long as it is related to the broad mission of the Political Economy Project.

Interested students will develop an initial reading list with the help of a Dartmouth faculty member prior to the application. Recipients will then be required to meet with the faculty member and submit a one-page summary of activities upon completion of the fellowship. 

Past awardees have worked on projects as diverse as FDA reform, East European dissident literature, Chinese-Taiwanese comparative development, private defense agencies, and the British leader Benjamin Disraeli, to name only a few. (See our YouTube interview here.)

Deadlines for each of the terms for which funding is available will generally coincide with the deadlines for full-time and thesis research grants offered by the Undergraduate Advising and Research program (UGAR). For the 2020-21 academic year, those deadlines are:

October 14, 2020 (for winter term)

February 3, 2021 (for spring term research)

April 28, 2021 (for summer research)

July 28, 2021 (for fall term research)


In a one- or two-page, double-spaced proposal, explain how you conceived of the idea for the research fellowship, how it addresses themes of interest to the Political Economy Project, how you expect it to contribute to your intellectual growth, and why you are applying for the specific time period you have chosen. The proposal should include a bibliography of no more than one single-spaced page, listing some of the materials (books, articles) that you expect to read during the grant period. It should also indicate the proposed dates of your fellowship, and whether you are planning to produce a specific research product based on your reading (it is not required).

The proposal should also include the following individual items: a project title, a formal or informal transcript, an updated resumé, and a brief communication (email is fine) by a faculty member who is willing to sponsor your proposal. (Those faculty involved in the review process--the PEP directors Profs. Irwin and Muirhead, the PEP program director Prof. Clark, and the review committee chair Prof. Plunkett--will not be eligible to serve as proposal sponsors.)

In the term after you have completed the fellowship, you will meet with your faculty sponsor to discuss what you learned during the grant period. After this meeting, you will send a 1-page summary of your research fellowship experience to the PEP program director and your faculty sponsor. Then, during the same term, you will attend a meeting with PEP-affiliated faculty and other grant recipients to discuss what you learned during the fellowship period. 

Since part of the aim of this program is to help foster habits of intellectual inquiry that are genuinely independent of extensive faculty supervision, you are only required to meet with your faculty sponsor twice: once before applying (to prepare a plan of research) and once after the fellowship is complete (to review what it accomplished). You are of course welcome to meet with your faculty sponsor more often if that is mutually agreeable. 

Send all application materials as PDF attachments, as well as any questions you may have about the program, to the PEP program director: Indicate in the subject line that you are applying for this fellowship. Late applications will not be accepted. A faculty committee chaired by Prof. David Plunkett (Philosophy) will review the applications, and notifications will be sent out by email within two or three weeks after the deadline. Consult the PEP website for the specific deadlines for each of the terms that funding is available.* 

*If you are applying for a leave term grant, consider the impact on your D-plan. There is a penalty for changing from a residence term to a leave term after the registrar's deadline, but there is no penalty for changing from a leave term to a residence term. Information about D-plan deadlines can be found here.