Faculty Interest Groups

2016-2017 Faculty Interest Group Award Deadlines - 29 April 2016

One of MBB’s main goals is to foster interdisciplinary dialogue, research, and fellowship. Over the past few years, MBB’s primary focus has been to build and increase its support for student-related activities and student-faculty interdisciplinary research. In addition to continuing to support these activities, it is time now for MBB to focus on interdisciplinary faculty dialogue and fellowship by allowing larger groups of faculty to connect with each other around fascinating issues or questions. Therefore, MBB is pleased to offer funding for Faculty Interest Groups. We believe these faculty interest groups can serve as an effective vehicle to bring together faculty members from across the University to discuss and explore exciting questions and issues of common interest. We hope you will consider forming or joining one of these groups.

What is a faculty interest group?
A faculty interest group is a group of faculty members from different departments and oftentimes different schools who will work together on a particular question or set of questions. This is MBB’s attempt to create a structure, like a think tank, that will allow faculty to consider questions or areas of pursuit that do not currently exist. Based somewhat on the MBB Working Groups concept from years past, we see these faculty interest groups as vehicles that will bridge disciplines in service of clarifying an important issue.

How do they work?
We do not want to put too many restrictions in place. We feel it is best to leave the particular design and structure decisions up to the group itself. But, in order for MBB to make an informed decision about whether to support the group or not, we will need to see a proposal that:

  • identifies and outlines the particular topics or issues the group wishes to examine;
  • provides a rationale for why MBB should support the group;
  • lists the potential group members and their departments;
  • generally outlines how, where, when, and how often the group will connect.

So, if you are a faculty member with an interest in a certain topic, and you would like to learn more about what your colleagues in different disciplines think about that topic, you should contact them and ask them if they would like to form an interest group. Your group can then frame the questions/issues and submit a proposal to MBB.

As for group membership, this will be decided by the group. The group will need to decide the number of members to have, as well as the composition of the group. Adding graduate students or postdocs to help the group is also acceptable. As you determine the size and makeup of your group, please keep in mind that MBB will be more inclined to support groups that have representatives from several different disciplines or schools.

We did not want to place any limitations on how the group would conduct their business, so, here again, there is a fair amount of flexibility. Some groups may decide to meet in person on a regular basis, other groups may decide to meet via Skype or videoconference, while others may decide that a semi-annual retreat of some sort will work best for their purposes.

The group will decide its own schedule, but MBB will expect the group to complete its work within two years.

  • Does MBB expect a finished product? Ideally, the group’s work will result in some sort of product, e.g., conference, workshop, research project, publication, or course. In all likelihood, this will be determined by the group and the kinds of questions they are tackling. There should be some measure to evaluate productivity and thus accountability.
  • How much money can we have? We anticipate supporting groups at a maximum rate of $15,000 per group. A budget will need to accompany each proposal. We expect most of these expenses will be associated with bringing the group together in some way. However, the award can also be used to purchase reference materials or to bring in an outside scholar to present a talk.
  • How do we apply? Please complete and submit the application below. MBB announces application deadlines throughout the year. MBB will give preference to applications from groups of faculty members, but we will consider individual applications from Harvard faculty members who are planning to create and facilitate a faculty interest group.

Download an application

2016_mbb_faculty_interest_group_application.docx23 KB