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Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshops (RIW)


Proposals may be submitted at either of two deadlines, July 21 or January 4, through the application system. Proposals submitted in January should not request more than $2,500 for the remainder of the academic year. Applications must include the following:

  • Topic Statement (500 words or less)
  • Planned Activities which must include:
    1. A culminating event or product
    2. 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 (no more than 2 to 3 pages for each person) of the graduate student coordinator(s) and faculty sponsor(s)
  • Designated coordinator or co-coordinators (a student may be a coordinator for only 1 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.

Program Overview

The Rackham Graduate School sponsors an ongoing program of interdisciplinary graduate student and faculty workshops, which is overseen by Associate Dean Arthur Verhoogt. This program has two goals. First, it is designed to encourage exchange and collaboration among students and faculty 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.

The groups to be supported should be self-organized by the participants, have an ongoing core membership, and meet regularly throughout the academic year. There should be 1) opportunities for members to receive feedback on their work in progress and 2) an interdisciplinary goal or end product. As examples, you might consider increasing knowledge in a specific targeted area with the goal of developing a publishable paper, a conference, a grant proposal or a research project. We expect that most groups will also read scholarship on relevant topics and they may include discussion with invited visitors; other activities may be proposed as appropriate.

Faculty and graduate students interested in forming such groups may apply for up to $5,000 to support Workshop activities and to compensate coordinators. Proposals may be submitted twice during the year: by July 21 or January 4. 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. Notice will be posted here if funds are exhausted and proposals are no longer being accepted.

Structure of the Program

Faculty and students wishing to form Workshops will be asked to describe both the specific topics to be addressed by the group and the distinctive nature and value of the interdisciplinary exchange that will be undertaken in the group. The groups to be supported should have an ongoing core membership, and meet regularly throughout the academic year. They must be self-organized by the participants—they may not be part of a credit-bearing course. We expect that most groups will discuss members' work in progress and published scholarship on relevant topics, and they may include discussion with invited visitors; other activities may be proposed as appropriate.

Groups may be composed of any combination of faculty and student participants or the group may be primarily graduate students with a faculty sponsor. (Faculty groups that exclude students, and student groups not affiliated with at least one faculty member, are not eligible for funding under this program.) One or more graduate students, one of whom should be a candidate (RIW coordinator), and one or more faculty members (RIW mentors) should apply on behalf of a group. Committed participants at the time of application must number at least six, with others joining as the group begins its activities. We expect that most groups will have from twelve to twenty-five participants, but smaller and larger groups may be proposed. Because Workshops are expected to require substantial commitment, joining more than one is discouraged.

The membership of a Workshop will in most cases be drawn from two or more academic units. The Graduate School recognizes, however, that disciplinary and departmental affiliations are not necessarily congruent, and that disciplinary and interdisciplinary dialogues are often intertwined. It is not required that the individuals submitting the application be from different units, nor is it expected that Workshop participants will be evenly or widely scattered across many units. Groups based in interdisciplinary units or strongly anchored in a discipline are eligible to apply so long as they will be open to individuals who are affiliated elsewhere. Established groups whose activities are appropriate for the program are eligible to apply. Groups that have sponsorship from other units may also apply for this program; any funding or other resources already allocated to the group, or applied for, should be specified in the proposal.

This program is also designed to ease the isolation that can characterize dissertation work in some fields. However, we encourage proposals from those whose research takes place in a laboratory or other collaborative setting, as well, recognizing that they may benefit greatly from an alternative forum for discussion.

All groups should designate at least one graduate student coordinator who has reached candidacy, and are in their 3rd through 6th years of study. A student may serve as a coordinator or co-coordinator in one RIW only. Coordinators are expected to be in residence in the Ann Arbor area. Coordinators will:

  • Collaborate with the faculty sponsor(s) to prepare the proposal, and plan the group's program
  • Manage the group's budget (make arrangements with your unit to receive statements of activity to track Workshop expenses on a regular basis)
  • Arrange and publicize meetings
  • Arrange for readings to be available
  • Establish and maintain the group's membership list and keep records of attendance and activities
  • Organize speakers' visits, if applicable
  • Create and maintain a web page, linked to the Rackham site, for the group
  • Prepare the group's year-end report to Rackham

Faculty sponsors should, minimally, collaborate in the planning of the Workshop, consult regularly with the coordinator about its activities, attend some meetings of the group, and review the final report before it is submitted. We hope that in most cases faculty organizers and other faculty members will also participate actively and consistently in Workshop meetings.


A proposed budget must be submitted as part of the application. Please use the Excel template when preparing your budget proposal and year-end report.. The limit for annual funding in this program is $5,000 but groups should only apply for funds necessary for the functions of their Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop.

After a new Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop is approved a Project Grant specific to the Workshop needs to be created by the group administrator. The Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop account will run a deficit and funds will be distributed upon submission of the year-end report.

Appropriate expenses include:

  • Reading materials*
  • Tickets for common activities such as exhibits and films
  • Mileage for students to in-state events
  • Website hosting subscription
  • Room rental fees**
  • Honoraria for visiting speakers (may not exceed $500 for an individual speaker)
  • Travel (e.g. hotel, flights) for visiting speakers
  • Food, including meals for visiting speakers and food/beverages for functions (the total of all food and beverages may not exceed $1,000 for the full year or $500 for winter semester)
  • Prizes and gifts are not considered appropriate expenses.

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

* 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.

** If you are planning an event, such as a public workshop, lecture, or conference, please remember to include room rental fees and any additional venue fees (custodial charges, charges for audio visual equipment or tech support, tables and chairs, etc.) in your budget proposal.

Graduate Student Coordinator Stipends & Faculty Sponsor Payments

  • A stipend of up to $1,500 per year for the graduate student coordinator or coordinators 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).


Questions should be directed to (734) 763-0172 or via email at

Last updated: July 6, 2018 - 11:07am