Pembroke Center Seed Grants

Pembroke Center Seed Grants for Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research

The Pembroke Center's competitive seed grant program supports collaborative research initiatives that involve Brown faculty from the humanities, social sciences, creative arts, and health sciences. In keeping with the Pembroke Center's intellectual mission, these research initiatives will examine intersecting dimensions of difference such as gender, sexuality, generation, work, class, race, ethnicity, language, citizenship, and religion.

Application Deadline: Closed

Read about projects funded for 2015-16

Goals of the Seed Grant Program

1) Support the formation of focused interdisciplinary groups working across fields and academic divisions, with distinct theoretical and methodological approaches, in order to explore innovative research questions.

2) Incorporate intersecting dimensions of difference (such as gender, sexuality, generation, work, class, race, ethnicity, language, citizenship, and religion) into broader research agendas.

3) Serve as a catalyst for developing research projects that may ultimately qualify for external grant funding.

Application Requirements

• One faculty project director, plus a minimum of one additional faculty member from a different field

• One-page bios of research group participants, including their disciplines, research interests as they relate to the seed grant application, and their other interdisciplinary projects

• Title of research project and a two- to three-page description that details the central research questions, common themes, and project goals

• Plan to involve other faculty researchers, visiting scholars, postdoctoral fellows, and students

• Dissemination plan for research findings

• Proposed budget of up to $10,000. Please list all current and pending funding from Brown and other sources related to the project.

Applicants should design their program to best serve their research goals.

Pembroke Center grants may be used for a mix of workgroups, symposia, and performances for collaborative exchange, visiting scholars, lectures, student research assistantships, small research stipends for the lead faculty organizer, and publication support. Groups must be anchored at Brown University but may include outside researchers. Preference will be given to projects that involve faculty across academic divisions.

Please send applications electronically by Friday, April 1, 2016 to or deliver hard copy to:

The Pembroke Center – Box 1958
Pembroke Hall, Room 111
172 Meeting Street
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912

Grant Process

  • The application deadline is April 1, 2016.
  • Award notifications will be made by Monday, May 2, 2016.
  • Funds will be available starting on July 1, 2016.
  • Expenditure of funds must be completed by June 30, 2017.
  • A final report that details the activities supported by the grant and provides a full accounting of expenditures will be due September 1, 2017.

Contacts for Questions:

Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Director of the Pembroke Center

Drew Walker, Associate Director of the Pembroke Center

Seed Grant Recipients: Academic Year 2015-16

Approaching War

This project brings together faculty from across the university to form a working group to develop and present research on the history, representations, manifestations and presences of war. In parallel with the Pembroke Center's four-year research initiative on "Thinking War Differently: A Collaborative Critical Project," the working group is a forum for faculty from different disciplines to establish and explore common theoretical and methodological questions. Most of Brown's humanities and social sciences departments have at least one faculty member whose research addresses an aspect of war.

This working group will bring together Brown faculty and graduate students from a wide range of disciplines to study different meanings and uses of the term 'war,' to explore its different aspects and modes of articulation and to question the role wars play in modern politics – including in post-colonial processes in the form of "liberation wars." Special attention will be paid to different forms of opposition to war, that is, to pacifist and suffragist movements, to their writings and events, to civil protest and actions, to anarchist gathering, feminist-socialists opposition and various cultures of hypochondria and their uses as means to evade the draft, cultures that produced figures such as the absconder, runaway, fugitive, defector, renegade, turncoat or traitor. The working group will explore a variety of visual and textual material in studying the role of technologies in the perpetuation of wars, the political and economic interests in determining war end(s) and beginning(s), women's role and participation in wars and their subordination through rape as well as narratives and figures of war over time.

Thanks to seed grant funding from the Pembroke Center, the faculty working group will be a venue for interested faculty and graduate students to share their research. It will meet once a month, with one or two faculty members and/or graduate students presenting works in progress, informally, at each meeting. The project will culminate with a guest lecture, identified according to the interests of the group.

• Esther Whitfield, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Hispanic Studies (project co-director)

• Ariella Azoulay, Professor of Comparative Literature and Modern Culture (project co-director) 

Feminist Citation Practices in Anthropology

A recent study published in Nature analyzed over 5,400,000 peer-reviewed articles in the natural and social sciences published from 2008 to 2012, in journals around the world (Lariviere et al. 2013). They found that articles with women authors (whether sole authors or co-authors) are cited less frequently than those without. These findings on gender disparities in citation are consistent with the main trend of research that has been done since the 1970s on the nature and extent of gender's impact on the production of knowledge and the evaluation of scholars.

The discipline of anthropology is an increasingly female field in terms of the production of PhDs and the make-up of university faculty rosters in the discipline (the American Anthropological Association membership is now 64 percent female). Indeed, the Nature study cited above found the gender disparity in citations to be most pronounced in the most male-dominated fields like computer science, engineering, and math. The editor of the American Anthropologist, the discipline's flagship journal, examined the pattern of citation to his journal's articles for the decade of the 2000s in a recent article (Chibnik 2014). Using a very basic research design, he interpreted his results to indicate an absence of gender bias in citation, at least for this set of articles.

This research project will examine a wider array of four disciplinary journals, code them for the subdisciplinary and topical foci of each article, and otherwise follow the lead of a well-designed study of gender citation patterns in the field of International Relations (Maliniak, Powers, and Walter 2013). Funding will be used to pay Brown graduate students to undertake coding and data analysis of hundreds of articles. Seed grant funds will also support a workshop with project team members as well as other Brown faculty.

• Catherine Lutz, Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies (project co-director)

• Matthew Gutmann, Professor of Anthropology; Director of the Brown International Advanced Research Institutes; Faculty Fellow, Watson Institute for International Studies (project co-director)

• Susan Short, Professor of Sociology; Faculty Associate, Population Studies and Training Center (project co-director)

• Jessica Katzenstein, Graduate Student, Anthropology

• Virginia Dominguez, Professor of Anthropology, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; former president American Anthropological Association 

Freedom's Cost: Learning from the Past to Change the Future

Freedom's Cost positions children and youth at the center of the post World War II African American movements for civil rights by addressing activism's personal and communal costs. Blending civil rights movement histories with the burgeoning fields in trauma studies, the project adds dimension to the heroic narrative, exposing complicated and long-term realities for many young people. The black freedom struggle and the fight for equality often utilized the language of war. Activists saw themselves as foot soldiers in a nonviolent movement army against formidable state-sanctioned powers. Therefore Freedom's Cost involves a rethinking of activism, mental health, and loss, through the interdisciplinary lenses of race, childhood studies, trauma studies, psychology, memory, and the literature of war and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Seed grant funds will bring together veterans to tell their stories alongside health care providers who themselves are veterans and practitioners. Held on the Brown campus, the gathering will include a closed meeting of participants and a public symposium to allow Brown's students to meet and hear from the participants. The seed grant will also support a research assistantship for Hassani Scott'17, who will participate in the Brown-Tougaloo exchange in the Fall of 2015 and will work directly with Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.

• Françoise N. Hamlin, Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies (project director)

• William Beardslee, Gardner Monks Professor of Child Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Director, Preventative Intervention Project at Judge Baker Children's Center

• David J. Dennis, Sr., Founder and Director, Southern Initiative Algebra Project

• Cynthia Goode Palmer, Executive Director, Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, Tougaloo College

• Hassani Scott '17, concentrator in Africana Studies

• Robert Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, Central Mississippi Health Services, Inc.

• Hollis Watkins, President, Southern Echo, Inc. 

Past Seed Grants

Inaugural Seed Grants - 2013

2013-14 Seed Grants

2014 -15 Seed Grants

The Pembroke Center Seed Grant Program is made possible thanks to the generosity of the donors to the Pembroke Challenge.