Weatherhead Initiative Research Cluster in International Affairs

[  Weatherhead Initiative Selection Criteria  ]

The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs sponsors and manages the Weatherhead Initiative Research Cluster in International Affairs, established in 1998 by a generous gift from Albert and Celia Weatherhead and the Weatherhead Foundation. The Weatherhead Initiative is an ambitious program to support large-scale innovative research on topics at Harvard central to the Weatherhead Center’s activities.

The Weatherhead Center’s mission is to support scholarly research, principally in the social sciences in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and in related disciplines in the University’s professional schools. This research focuses on international, transnational, global, and comparative topics, both contemporary and historical, including rigorous policy analysis as well as the study of specific countries and regions outside the United States.

Research That Is Supported

  • Proposals should be for large-scale pioneering and integrative projects involving members of different Harvard faculties in collaborative research.

  • Proposals should have a clear integrative core; they should not merely link together a series of loosely related projects.

  • Proposals may involve other faculty members from research institutions in the United States or from other countries.

  • Proposals should honor the idea of clustering scholars inter-generationally by dedicating to the cluster:

    • an in-residence faculty leave of one semester;

    • three to four Graduate Student Associate positions;

    • three to four undergraduate summer research awards to students who will then become research assistants;

    • one or two dissertation completion grants;

    • postdoctoral scholarships; and

    • a visiting faculty position.

  • Priority will be given to proposals that:

    • are either interdisciplinary or interfaculty, and certainly to those that are both;

    • seek to apply theoretical insights to the collection or analyses of data;

    • aim to generate theoretically grounded hypotheses and/or rigorous policy analysis; or

    • seek to work out a particular idea or set of ideas that could animate a larger-scale research project.

Proposals for support under the Weatherhead Initiative must come from Harvard professors with continuing regular appointments.

Faculty do not have to be formally associated with the Weatherhead Center to apply.

Amount of Financial Support

Proposals for the Weatherhead Initiative can encompass work to be completed within three years. In 2016–2017, up to $500,000 will be available to support one Weatherhead Initiative Research Cluster. The Center expects to make an award every two to three years. In special circumstances, the Weatherhead Center will also allocate additional funds to Weatherhead Initiative Research Clusters that meet its priorities, for example:

  • Funding may be sought to complement faculty research leaves.

  • Faculty interested in exploring a project for a Weatherhead Initiative proposal may apply for small grants (up to $5,000) to facilitate the development of a proposal for submission. These grants could also include supplementary funding to organize a one-day workshop or a series of discussions among scholars interested in a particular topic to develop promising areas for collaborative research on the scale and within the time frame envisaged by the Weatherhead Initiative.

Who Is Eligible

All assistant, associate, and full professors with continuing regular appointments in all the faculties and schools of Harvard University who are engaged in research pertinent to the Weatherhead Center’s mission may apply.

How to Apply

  • Proposals should be double-spaced. A proposal should explain the significance of the work, its place in a scholarly research community, the dimensions of the work, and the specific use of the funds being sought. Supporting documentation should include two-page curriculum vitaes that include significant publications relevant to this proposal for all those engaged in the cluster, a detailed budget, a calendar for completion of the work, and a preliminary plan for the dissemination of the research results.

  • The substantive portion of the proposals should be carefully developed, and the Initiative Selection Committee may ask for additional information after the initial proposal is submitted. The Selection Committee is also prepared to give a brief written response to preliminary proposals to help faculty assess the feasibility of their projects.

Those who are considering submitting a proposal are strongly urged to make early contact with Executive Director Theodore J. Gilman. Samples of previous proposals are also available.


Proposals for the first round of the Weatherhead Initiative are due by October 1, 2016. The proposals will be considered by the Initiative Selection Committee by early November, and project teams may be asked to meet with the selection committee in late November or early December. The announcement of awards will occur by the end of the fall semester, and funding for clusters can begin after July 1, 2017.

Proposals submitted by this year’s deadline may be scheduled to start at any time within the next three academic years.

Review Process

The Weatherhead Initiative Selection Committee is composed of faculty members from various peer universities and a variety of disciplines. It screens proposals and makes recommendations to the Weatherhead Center Executive Committee, which makes the final decision on awarding the Initiative grant.

  • The Selection and Executive Committees have the option of asking for oral presentations by the team or teams whose proposals are under consideration.

  • The Selection Committee may seek outside evaluations of individual proposals. These evaluations will be shared with the research teams.

  • In exceptional cases, the Selection Committee may recommend, and the Executive Committee may decide, to allocate the income from two years for one proposal, or, alternatively, not to award the grant in a particular year and instead pool the income with that from the next year.

  • The charge to members of the Selection Committee will be to represent the mission of the Weatherhead Center and Harvard University rather than the particular interests of their schools.


  • The proposed output from a Weatherhead Initiative Research Cluster could include a scholarly book, an edited volume, a series of monographs or articles, a more widely broadcast analytical policy report, or a combination of these.

  • Clusters must be based at the Weatherhead Center, although individual faculty members need not be in full-time residence at the Center for the life of the cluster.

  • Principal investigators for the cluster and visiting scholars in residence at Harvard are eligible to be appointed Weatherhead Initiative Associates for up to three years while the cluster is still active.

  • The Initiative project team may work with a liaison team from the Center’s Faculty Associates concerning the development of the cluster.

  • Faculty who receive support from the Center should acknowledge it in future publications of their research.

  • All grant recipients must submit a one- to two-page memo at the end of each academic year reporting on the use of the Weatherhead Initiative grant in which initiative funds have been used. This report should focus on the intellectual and scholarly results of receiving funding. Reporting memos are due June 30, 2017.

See also: Faculty Grants