Research News

Limited Submission Opportunity: 2021 Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowships

Applications due July 7, 2021

Vanderbilt University may submit one application to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s New Directions Fellowships.

New Directions Fellowships assist faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who seek to acquire systematic training outside their own areas of special interest. The program is intended to enable scholars in the humanities to work on problems that interest them most, at an appropriately advanced level of sophistication. In addition to facilitating the work of individual faculty members, these awards should benefit scholarship in the humanities more generally by encouraging the highest standards in cross-disciplinary research. See the past fellowship recipients for a survey of the disciplines the Mellon Foundation has funded.

Eligibility requirements

Eligible candidates will be faculty members who were awarded a doctorate in the humanities or humanistic social sciences within the last six to 12 years (between 2009 and 2015) and whose research interests call for formal training in a discipline other than the one in which they are expert. Such training may consist of coursework or other programs of organized study.

This fellowship does not aim to facilitate short-term outcomes, such as completion of a book. Rather, it is a longer-term investment in the scholar’s intellectual range and productivity.

Selection criteria

  1. Overall significance of the research
  2. The case for the importance of extra-disciplinary training for furthering the research
  3. The likely ability of the candidate to derive satisfactory results from the training program proposed
  4. A well‑developed plan for acquiring the necessary training within a reasonable period of time

Funding priorities

Priority will be given to applications that manifest 1.) a strong focus on issues of race, ethnicity, and migration; or 2.) a focus on filling in the gaps left by more traditional narratives in the history of the Americas.

The second field of study must be a foray into a new area of intellectual inquiry/subject and not just an enhancement of skills to go further in the primary field. Language study, technical training or skills acquisition such as GIS mapping do not, by themselves, constitute a new direction.

Award information

  1. The equivalent of one academic year’s salary
  2. Two summers of additional support, each at the equivalent two-ninths of the previous academic year salary
  3. Tuition or course fees or equivalent direct costs associated with the fellows’ training programs
  4. Final budgets commonly range from $175,000 to $250,000; the maximum is $300,000. The term of the grant should cover a minimum of two years.

In an effort to recognize and address travel and access constraints related to the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic:

Supplemental funds up to $15,000 will be available for scholars who require access to collections that have not yet been digitized and cataloged, or who require the paid support of a librarian or archivist to assist with research where collections are closed to outside visitors because of the pandemic. For example, payments from this supplement may be budgeted for library or special collections partners who would work closely with the New Directions fellow to identify and define archival or library collections that can be digitized and made available for study by the fellow and—when feasible—to members of the general public.

No overhead or indirect costs are permitted, and no funding for staging conferences, symposia, seminars or events related to the project is allowed. The foundation assumes the needs for equipment or research assistants will be met by the fellow’s home institution.

See the program page for more information.

Internal submission instructions

Interested faculty should visit to submit an application for the internal LSO competition and to find additional information about the opportunity.  The deadline for the internal competition is July 7, 2021.

Any questions about this opportunity or the LSO process may be directed to