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
  • to be carried out in academic year 2025-26
  • innovative in format or approach (i.e., not “academic business as usual”)
  • funded solely (or primarily) by the Humanities Council.

In rare cases, for projects requiring advance preparation, multiple components, or specific timing, funds can be requested for a two- or three-year period. In these cases, the grant does not support multiple iterations of of the same activity (e.g., a spring conference every year for three years) but rather a slightly longer period for launching one cohesive project (e.g., a working group followed by a closely related team-taught course in year two). The Humanities Council is closely monitoring University guidance on travel-related projects, and all awards are subject to compliance with campus-wide policies as they develop.

Magic grants do not support individual faculty research, nor do they support teaching, research or summer salary, with the exception of “Team Teaching Grants in Humanistic Studies.” These course-development grants offer $7,500 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. Magic funds do not provide teaching relief or additional FTE for term-time teaching.

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 (assistant, associate, full professors; senior lecturers; University Lecturers; and professors of the practice) 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 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).

NOTE: Preference will go to applicants who have not received a substantial grant from the Humanities Council in the past academic year.

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 must have funds from the home department for the course. Magic Grants will match the home department funding for the break trip. Please inquire if there are compelling reasons that departmental support is not available.
  • Carried out in the coming academic year 2025-26: Grants will be awarded in July 2025. Projects should begin no earlier than summer of 2025 and must be carried out in academic year 2025-26, concluding no later than August 2026. A rare exception is the case of multi-year projects, which require a rationale (see above) and should be discussed with the Council in advance of application.
  • 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 250 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. Please take care to craft an abstract that is clear about the project timeline (start and end dates), key participants, and locations. The abstract should be able to stand on its own as an overview of the project, covering all key aspects and goals of the proposal.

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, honoraria) for the full project, indicating all amounts contributed by, or solicited from, other offices on campus, particularly the host department.  Please note that the executive committee has established a benchmark of $750-$1500 for honoraria for public lectures and $75-$500 for a class visit or conference/colloquia participation. If you propose to bring international visitors to campus, please consider whether the goals of the project could be realized with a virtual visit.
  • 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 require a statement of support from Chair/Director of the academic unit committing to manage the funds and any needed logistical support. If the application does not include this statement of support, a request will be emailed to the Chair/Director of the unit. The endorsement is not required to be submitted by the application deadline; they will be due by February 10.

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. Faculty whose projects may involve digital components (e.g., websites, digital exhibits, data visualization, multimedia) should consult The Digital Scholarship Office in The Princeton University Library for guidance in available resources.

Grant Application

Deadlines and Grant Cycles 

Note: There will be one cycle of grant applications in AY24-25.

  • TBD: Funding Information Session, 16 Joseph Henry House at 12:00 pm
  • January 10, 2025: Deadline to send draft proposal for review to Kathleen Crown/Esther Schor.
  • January 24, 2025: Deadline to submit application.
  • February 2025 Executive Committee deliberations.
  • March 2025: Notification of decisions.
  • July 2025: Funds will be transferred after the start of the 2025 fiscal year (begins July 1, 2025).
  • May 15, 2025: 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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