Apply for a Magic Grant

The Princeton & Slavery project offered students extensive opportunities to conduct original archival research in the University archives, led by Daniel Linke, far left, shown here with Mudd Library Special Collections Assistant April C. Armstrong *14, center, Martha Sandweiss and students. Photo: Denise Applewhite

Magic grants are awarded to faculty for new projects that change the way the humanities are conceived or taught. The Magic Project provides innovation grants from $5,000 to $50,000. Grants are available for proposals that are:

  • first-time projects
  • projects to be carried out starting in academic year 2020-21
  • projects that are funded solely (or primarily) by the Humanities Council.

For projects requiring advance preparation, multiple components, or specific timing, funds can be requested for a two- or three-year period.

Magic grants do not support individual faculty research, nor do they support teaching salary, with the exception of “Team Teaching Grants in Humanistic Studies.” These grants offer $7500 summer stipends to assistant, associate, and full professors from divergent departments or disciplines who propose to develop a new team-taught course in Humanistic Studies that is of broad interdisciplinary interest.

Grants are intended to reflect one or more facets of the Project’s mission:

  • to encourage unusual, even surprising, intellectual endeavors that depart from the status quo and have the potential to reshape a body of knowledge;
  • to foster interdisciplinary collaborations and team-teaching across fields;
  • to enlarge the curriculum in ways that encourage both faculty and students to adopt new modes of thought that transcend traditional academic boundaries;
  • to expose students to educational riches that might not otherwise be visible or available to them because of class size restrictions, budgetary limits, or other obstacles; and
  • to encourage humanities faculty to collaborate with a colleague in science and engineering on a joint project.
Who is eligible to apply:

Regular Princeton faculty (senior lecturers; assistant, associate, full professors) may apply. Other faculty, research, and administrative members of the University may be co-proposers.

EXCEPTION: Lecturers, research scholars, and postdoctoral fellows on continuing appointments may propose projects, under the following conditions:

  • the funds will be used to support pedagogical initiatives (e.g., new courses; student activity or travel in an educational context; innovative teaching materials/installations);
  • the request is accompanied by an endorsement from the department chair; and
  • for course-related activities, the department confirms that the course would be offered and a teaching salary provided (Magic grants do not support teaching salary).
Project Eligibility Checklist:
  • A new, first-time endeavor: Magic grants are intended to be the initiating spark for a project
  • A project for which the Magic funds will be the sole or primary support. Magic Grants typically do not sustain established programs, match grants from other units, or “top up” other funding sources. They fund the project in full and are not to be used as a basis for additional fundraising. An exception is undergraduate course-related travel: in this case, faculty may apply for Magic funds to match those offered by the home department for the course.
  • Carried out in the coming academic year 2020-21: Grants will be awarded in July 2020. Projects should begin no earlier than summer of 2020 and must be carried out in academic year 2020-21, concluding no later than August 2021, except in the case of multi-year projects (which require a rationale; see above).
  • A re-conception of the humanities: whether by encouraging new and emerging cross-disciplinary endeavors; building new bridges from the humanities to the creative arts, sciences, and social sciences; or enabling new initiatives in global and public humanities.
  • Led by Princeton faculty and of benefit to the Princeton University community: Magic grants do not support projects administered by or housed in organizations other than Princeton University.
  • Not clearly eligible for established, traditional sources of University funding.

How to Apply

Before you submit a project proposal, you are encouraged to review the guidelines and contact Kathleen Crown, Executive Director of the Humanities Council, for guidance on eligibility criteria, necessary components of the proposal, and preliminary feedback on an initial draft.

The online application form will require the following documents as attachments:

1. A brief, compelling abstract of the proposal (up to 200 words), clearly stating who is involved, what the funds will be used for, and where, when, and how it will be carried out. It should further convey what makes the project innovative and potentially important. The abstract should be able to stand on its own as an overview of the project.

2. A detailed proposal for the full project, which must include the following:

  • project title
  • name(s) of proposer(s)
  • principal departments involved
  • start and end dates, schedule of when all work will be done
  • innovative nature of the project in relation to the humanities
  • project’s benefit to Princeton University faculty and students
  • names of Princeton faculty and students who will be involved
  • intended non-University participants, with names and affiliations if known
  • a detailed budget (travel, lodging, food, materials) for the full project, indicating all amounts contributed by, or solicited from, other offices on campus, particularly the host department
  • total cost of the project
  • amount requested from the Humanities Council (projects normally should be funded primarily by the Council, with the exception of undergraduate break trips and other student travel).

3. Proposals involving new courses or undergraduate group travel requires a department chair agreement to support logistics.  You may attach that letter/email to the application form or have it sent directly to Kathleen Crown.

Proposals under serious consideration may be reviewed by faculty experts in the relevant fields, in consultation with the Council of Science and Technology, the Center for Digital Humanities, the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, the Lewis Center for the Arts, the Dean for Research, the Dean of the College, and other campus offices.

Other sources for humanities innovation funding include the Dean for Research Innovation Fund and  The 250th Anniversary Fund for Innovation in Undergraduate Education.

Grant Application

Deadlines and Grant Cycles

  • October 28, 2020: Round one deadline
  • December 2020: Applicants will be notified of decisions for round one.
  • February 26, 2021: Round two deadline
  • April 2021 Applicants will be notified of decisions for round two.
  • July 2021: Funds will be transferred after the start of the 2022 fiscal year (begins July 1, 2021).
  • May 15, 2022: Grantees must submit final reports on completed projects using an online form. Links will be provided, along with reminders from the Council.

See a full list of Humanities Council funding opportunities.

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