Council Offers Special Cycle of Magic Mini-Grants for Innovative Projects in 2020

May 21, 2020

As humanists at Princeton navigate stringent social distancing conditions, the Humanities Council affirms our commitment to connecting and supporting humanities scholars across the borders of their disciplines and beyond the University. 

In supporting the forward momentum of humanities research, we further affirm our commitment to our partners at community and public institutions. 

To that end, the Humanities Council offers a special round of “rapid response,” non-instructional Magic Grants for Princeton University faculty and research staff who propose projects starting in July 2020.

Projects must develop innovative formats for sustaining scholarly research and community, including new ways of engaging with central Jersey partner organizations.

We invite “outside-the-box” ideas that transform academic business as usual, reimagining its forms and communities in light of current conditions. Projects might experiment with new forms of conversation, exchange, and interaction, such as: 

  • practicums and other lab-like research activities that can be done from home;
  • ways of being alone together (including new uses for digital platforms such as Zoom, Slack, social media, blogs, podcasts);
  • new techniques for communication, with attention to the situated experiences of non-dominant groups;
  • interactive formats for generating research or writing (e.g., games, exhibits, maps, archives).

Magic grants are intended to be the sole funder and “initiating spark” for a first-time project and thus may not top up, co-sponsor, or sustain projects initiated elsewhere. Priority will be given to ideas that can be transferred or scaled to other contexts. Collaborations and joint proposals are encouraged. 


Princeton University faculty and others with continuing Dean of the Faculty appointments—e.g., lecturers, postdoctoral fellows, research scholars, and professional specialists—may submit a one- or two-page proposal, along with an itemized budget from $250 to $5,000

Projects must begin in July 2020 and conclude before January 2021, when a post-project report is due.

Faculty may propose to hire current Princeton University students (graduate or undergraduate) for technical or research assistance. Other eligible project expenses may include technical support or training relevant to the project and modest purchases of necessary equipment, and software or subscriptions; such requests may not replicate available University resources. Funds are not intended for the development of new websites but might support new components for existing sites. Proposals under serious consideration may be reviewed by faculty experts in the relevant fields, in consultation with the Center for Digital Humanities, ProCES, and the Council for Science and Technology, the Office of the Dean for Research, and other campus offices.

Grants may not support travel, in-person meetings, faculty summer salary, honoraria for online lectures or performances, or components of credit-bearing courses.

Proposals should indicate a commitment from a University office to manage funds and logistics. The Humanities Council will support projects through our usual publicity and communications channels.


Proposals will be considered as they arrive, with awards granted on a rolling basis.

Please contact Kathleen Crown, executive director of the Humanities Council, for guidance on preparing a proposal or questions about eligibility.


Graduate and undergraduate students may propose Summer 2020 projects through a separate but similar opportunity in SAFE, for expenses of up to $1,600 for undergraduates and $2,400 for graduate students. See the Humanities Council’s “Rapid Response Humanities Summer 2020 Projects” in SAFE. Graduate and undergraduate applicants can direct any questions to Ruby Shao ’17, project coordinator of the Humanities Council.

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