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Application Process

Rackham sponsors an ongoing program of interdisciplinary workshops, which is overseen by Associate Dean Catherine Sanok. This program has two goals. First, it is designed to encourage exchange and collaboration among graduate students, faculty, postdocs, and staff who share intellectual interests but do not necessarily have an easily available forum in common because they have different academic affiliations. Second, it is designed to help advanced doctoral students form working groups that support the development of research projects and dissertation writing. 

Graduate students interested in forming such groups may apply for funding to support workshop activities and to compensate coordinators. A maximum amount of $5,000 may be requested if the application is submitted by July 21, 2023, 11:59 PM (EDT) and is for the upcoming academic year. A maximum of $2,500 may be requested if the application is submitted by January 4, 2024, 11:59 PM (EST) and is for the current academic year. Workshops will receive funds at the end of the year after successful submission of the year-end report. Funding is for one year only, but continuing workshops may apply for renewal. Funding not used by the end of the academic year cannot roll over to the next academic year. Notice will be posted here if funds are exhausted and proposals are no longer being accepted.

Proposals should be submitted through the application system by either of two deadlines: July 21 or January 4. We will allow proposed budgets for RIWs that include appropriate expenses and that do not exceed:

  • $5,000 for proposals submitted by July 21
  • $2,500 for proposals submitted by January 4

Applications must include the following:

  • Topic Statement (500 words or less)
  • Planned Activities which must include:
    • Opportunities for students to receive feedback on their written work
  • Proposed Budget (review the Funding section before preparing budget)
  • List of Participants and their academic programs
  • Abbreviated CVs for each of the graduate student coordinator(s) and faculty sponsor(s). CVs should be no more than two to three pages for each person.
  • Designated coordinator or co-coordinators (a student may be a coordinator for only one RIW). Submit Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop Proposal

Review Process and Criteria

Proposals are reviewed by the Associate Deans at Rackham, in consultation with other faculty members and administrators as needed. If there are more applications that clearly fulfill the goals of the program than can be funded, the groups selected will be those that seem most likely to make a substantial contribution to the progress of the participating graduate students, and contribute to the development of innovative interdisciplinary dialogue.


A proposed budget must be submitted as part of the application.

Please use this Excel template when preparing your budget proposal and year-end report. Do NOT make any changes or edits to the form. Enter your proposed spending amount in the column designated for that purpose. Again, the limit for annual funding in this program is $5,000 for groups applying in July and $2,500 for groups applying in January. Groups should only apply for funds necessary for the functions of their Rackham Interdisciplinary workshop.

Once a new Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop is approved, a Project Grant specific to the workshop needs to be created by the group administrator or finance administrator. The Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop account will run a deficit and funds will be distributed upon submission of the year-end report which is due by June 1.

Appropriate Expenses

Student stipends up to $1,500 a year for the graduate student coordinator or coordinators. This amount is shared if there is more than one coordinator ($500 minimum, $1,500 maximum).

Research contributions for the RIW faculty sponsor(s) of up to $500 maximum or $250 maximum if split between two faculty sponsors.

Food including meals for visiting speakers and food and beverages for functions. The total of all food and beverages may not exceed $1,000 for a full academic year or $500 for a semester.

Honoraria for speakers may not exceed $500 for an individual speaker. Please plan for no more than one (1) outside speaker for each academic year.

    NEW: Rackham Speaker Funding Changes Rackham funding will be allowed for one speaker only. Rackham defines a “speaker” as a scholar who is invited by the RIW to give a public lecture. This new rule is being implemented following feedback from a number of departments who previously were overwhelmed by the number of public presentations that came out of RIWs associated with those departments, sometimes overlapping with programs organized by the departments themselves.

    This new rule is meant to scale back the number of public events resulting from RIW activities and bring the focus of the program back to what it can contribute to the members of the RIW. As many have pointed out in their feedback, it is the opportunity to talk with a scholar from another university that makes these visits so worthwhile for our students. That will continue in what we hope will be in a setting that is focused on, and more directly benefits the RIW members.

    We ask that you think creatively, and see how an outside scholar can contribute directly to the topic of your RIW, as a number of RIWs currently do. For example:

    • Rather than invite a scholar to give a public lecture in your department, invite them to facilitate a workshop with the members of your RIW to discuss their latest publication? Some RIWs already follow this model.
    • Invite a scholar to talk with the members of your RIW about their career trajectories.
    • Can you work with a scholar remotely for several sessions on a collaborative project?


    • When an outside scholar becomes a discussant, a collaborator, or an RIW workshop contributor, they do not fit the definition of “speaker.” Therefore, you can use RIW funds to bring more than one such scholar to campus.
    • If your culminating event is a public one that involves a workshop with several contributors, that will be possible too (such events already involve a lot of co-sponsorship).

    Books or writing materials, any decision to purchase items for individual participants, such as books, should be subjected to strict scrutiny. It must be clear that such purchases directly support workshop activities.

    Mileage for students to in-state events

    Tickets for common activities such as exhibits and films

    Website hosting subscription

    PLEASE NOTE: Department Administrative Support expenses were discontinued at the end of the 2015–16 academic year and are no longer considered an appropriate expense.

    Graduate Student Coordinator Stipends and Faculty Sponsor Payments

    A stipend of up to $1,500 per year for the graduate student coordinator or coordinators (no more than five (5) is required. This amount is shared if there is more than one coordinator ($500 minimum, $1,500 maximum).

    A research account contribution of $500 for a faculty sponsor (or split between two faculty sponsors) is suggested ($0 minimum, $500 maximum, or $250 maximum if operating in winter semester only).