2021 Union Pacific Research Grants

Apply Now! Applications are Due March 12th
Snowy mountain landscape in the style of traditional Chinese masters
Landscape after Dong Yuan, Juran, Ma Yuan, and Xia Gui; (~1655) Li Zai, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

2021 Union Pacific Research Grants

Applications are Due March 12, 2021


Proposals should be related to dissertation or pre-dissertation research but applicants may be at any stage of their graduate school career. Proposals must be for research in a time period that can be considered premodern. This opportunity is open to work in any discipline and concerning any geographic region. Priority consideration is given to:

  • Early Modern Studies or Medieval Studies minors
  • Recent ABDs conducting dissertation research or applicants doing pre-dissertation research
  • First-time applicants, and those who have been less funded in the past, although previous grant holders may apply for grants in every year that they are eligible

Types of Grants

Two types of Union Pacific Grants are offered--Research Grants and Research Services Grants. In a single funding cycle, applicants may apply for and receive both types of funding. Please indicate in your application materials that you are applying for both types of grants and specify how each pool of resources would be used.

  1. Union Pacific Research Grants: CEMH Union Pacific Research Grants support dissertation and pre-dissertation research and are typically between $500-$1500. Traditionally, the awards focus on supporting travel to archives. We are currently operating with modified guidelines for research support given the coronavirus pandemic. See Pandemic Guidelines below. Research funds are not intended to support travel/fees associated with conference attendance; however, if an applicant is able to make a strong case for specific research outcomes directly related to conference/workshop attendance, the committee will consider proposals on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Union Pacific Research Materials Grants: Originally conceived and called “Microfilm Grants,” these awards allocated Union Pacific funds to award up to $500 per person to graduate students who needed to pay to access copied archival materials, digital technology necessary for research, and/or other materials essential to their scholarship.

Pandemic Funding Priorities Guidelines

Given the current travel difficulties and other constraints related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have redefined criteria to target UP Grant funds toward the needs of students at the current time. We will revisit these changes at the end of the pandemic and decide then whether to continue them or return to the traditional practices. 

For this funding cycle, please note the following funding priority guidelines:

  • Project proposals must present compelling research and well-thought out work plans. The focus of these awards is to support dissertation and pre-dissertation research. 
  • Funding for research expenses is still the top priority. Possible examples include:    
    • Expenses to access copies of archival materials (Research Services Grants)
    • Expenses for research travel that could reasonably and lawfully be completed within the funding window given current and potentially future restrictions. International travel restrictions at UMN currently exist through March 31, 2021. Applicants requesting travel funds must demonstrate both a probable ability to travel to their desired location and an ability to access archival resources once they arrive taking into consideration local requirements to quarantine and restrictions at individual archives and institutions. The following sites provide additional information about UMN Travel Restrictions: http://purchasing.umn.edu/covid-19.html and https://global.umn.edu/travel/covid19/#/! 
    • Expenses for research tools and equipment necessary for the advancement of the project within the funding window (software, materials, etc.)
    • Expenses for childcare demonstrated to be necessary for completing research. Given the added strain many parents have faced with the closing of schools and childcare facilities, we will be considering these expenses this funding cycle. 
  • Funding for general living expenses and summer support while conducting home-based research on digital or previously collected resources will be considered but given secondary priority. Students must articulate how covering living expenses will facilitate their research and specifically describe the research to be conducted.

Funding Distribution & Fellow Obligations

Funding is typically distributed each year in Summer with the intention that it be used during the subsequent year prior to the next round of funding -- May 15, 2021 - April 15, 2022. Successful applicants must be registered for GRD4999 for the summer of 2021 in order to receive their monetary award. Due to coronavirus uncertainty, grants this funding cycle may be provisionally awarded. For example, a proposal for research travel that is compelling but not demonstrated to be actionable at the time of the fellowship distribution may receive a provisional award. Once a plan for the research activities can be demonstrated to be possible, the award would be distributed. Provisional awards not distributed by March 1, 2022 will be cancelled and students would be encouraged to reapply for the 2022-2023 award cycle.

Successful applicants will be asked to give an approximately 20-minute presentation related to their dissertation research in the Center Workshop series (to be arranged by the Center administration) and submit a 500-word feature for the semester newsletters, to be accompanied by an image associated with the research project.

To Apply:

Interested students are asked to submit their applications via email to premod@umn.edu by March 12, 2021. The application should consist of:

  • A one-page statement of purpose that clearly outlines the research project, the collections to be engaged, and the feasibility of the work.
  • Unofficial transcript 
  • Complete travel budget and budget justification including other funds received and applied for (please include the entirety of the travel budget, as this sometimes influences the committee) 
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