The University of Iowa is honored to be invited to nominate a team for a third Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar, a tribute to the ground-breaking work by the leaders of earlier seminars. The Obermann Center will be supporting the Office of the Vice President for Research and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences by providing potential applicants with information and advice based on our work in supporting the earlier teams. 

To quote from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation website: "The Mellon Foundation's Sawyer Seminars were established in 1994 to provide support for comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments.  The seminars, named in honor of the Foundation's long-serving third president, John E. Sawyer, have brought together faculty, foreign visitors, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students from a variety of fields mainly, but not exclusively, in the arts, humanities, and interpretive social sciences, for intensive study of subjects chosen by the participants. Foundation support aims to engage productive scholars in comparative inquiry that would (in ordinary university circumstances) be difficult to pursue, while at the same time avoiding the institutionalization of such work in new centers, departments, or programs. Sawyer Seminars are, in effect, temporary research centers."

The funding for the yearlong seminar supports a postdoctoral fellow, two graduate fellowships, and a year of activities. The seminar is open to UI faculty and graduate students. The Foundation also encourages the inclusion of colleagues from other institutions and organizations, such as nearby universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges, museums, and research centers. Proposals that draw upon the expertise of scholars to further equity, inclusion, and social justice are especially welcome: "As the Foundation reviews proposals, preference is given to those that include concrete plans for engaging participants with diverse affiliations." Faculty leaders generally come from the humanities and social sciences. In many seminars, artists and faculty from professional schools have also played active roles. 


The letter of intent is due by March 1, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. and should be submitted to the Obermann Center's Director of Operations, erin-hackathorn@uiowa.edu.

Final proposals are due March 29, 2021 by 5:00 p.m. and should be submitted via the OVPR's online application

Application Materials & Submission Guidelines 

The Office of the Vice President for Research, in partnership with the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has established a process for identifying the proposal that will go forward from the University of Iowa. The internal application process has two stages, and Obermann Director Teresa Mangum, Associate Vice President for Research Ann Ricketts, and Grants Administrator for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Kristi Fitzpatrick are all available to assist faculty members at all stages of preparation.

In this video, Ann Ricketts describes the Sawyer Seminar grants and the application process for UI faculty: 


First, interested faculty submit a 2-3 page letter proposing a seminar topic. Authors of plans that look especially promising will then be invited to submit full proposals. One will be selected and support will be provided to help the faculty strengthen the proposal and develop a firm budget before the University submits the proposal to Mellon on the faculty members' behalf.

Read more about Mellon Sawyer Seminars at https://research.uiowa.edu/mellon-foundation-sawyer-seminars and https://mellon.org/programs/higher-learning/sawyer-seminars/.