Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Call for Proposals: Humanities War and Peace Initiative

Division of Humanities in the Arts and Sciences
Deadline for this final call for proposals is Monday, March 1, 2021.


The Division of Humanities in the Arts and Sciences is accepting proposals for projects under the Humanities War and Peace Initiative. Funds have been generously provided by President Lee Bollinger.

War is, and has always been, one of the major factors in shaping the lives and cultures of people around the world, and scholars in the Humanities have studied it from many angles, including human rights, environmental justice, violence against women, empire, migration, philosophy, religion, literature, and many others. At the same time, war itself is rarely the organizing rubric under which we frame our inquiries in the Humanities. To make war and peace an organizing concept opens up enormous opportunities to address this all-important subject, one that continues to dominate the lives of millions of people around the world today.

The perspective brought by humanists is critical not only to understanding war as an event that has massively shaped human history, but to intervening in its future. If the damage of wars and conflict is ever to be genuinely alleviated, and if war’s inevitability is ever to be challenged, it will require new imaginative structures and habits, and a deep engagement with culture, language, art, religion, and thought.

Categories of Supported Activity:

We invite applications across these primary areas: scholarly collaborations on topics around war and peace, including those that feature work in a global context and involving the Columbia Global Centers; support for scholarship within current structures, where an emphasis on war and peace can transform the nature and outcomes of the work; support for courses that focus on war and peace; support for working groups or other ongoing discussion forums; support for work beyond academia, involving partnerships with groups or individuals, locally or well beyond; other related projects, as envisioned by applicants.

Additionally, we understand that plans for traditional research travel or in-person events are particularly difficult to make this year.  In order to provide support where it is most needed at this time, we will be accepting applications for an additional support category this year:  Funding may be applied to research assistance, equipment, materials, or to reduce financial pressures during the year, including childcare expenses.

We invite applications from any department or school at Columbia, though we stress that a humanistic approach is required.

Though there is no funding cap, we are particularly interested in providing small grants of $5,000 or under.  Junior faculty are particularly encouraged to apply.

1. Applications for new scholarly collaborations:

We invite applications for scholars working collaboratively in any area connected with war and peace. Collaborations might be focused around joint research projects and events such as conferences and symposia, and might result in publications. All collaborative proposals will be considered, and we encourage those that feature colleagues from other parts of the world, including partnerships that will involve a Columbia Global Center.

2. Applications for individual projects and joint work within existing structures:

Many individuals, centers, and institutes on campus have a scholarly focus in areas related to war and peace. We invite applications for humanities-centered projects of all kinds that bring new attention to issues surrounding war and peace, including projects affiliated with such entities, whether individual or collaborative.

We encourage performance and exhibition projects as well, including in theater, film, and music.

3. Applications for teaching projects:

Applications involving pedagogy are strongly encouraged. We will support course development and the mounting of courses in the area of war and peace that require extra resources.

4. Applications for working groups:

We encourage proposals for working groups or other ongoing discussion formats. These might include faculty and graduate students from multiple departments and/or schools at Columbia, as well as inviting members from outside of Columbia.

5. Applications for projects beyond academia:

We encourage applications for projects that involve community members, either within New York City or beyond. Projects that involve Columbia Global Center may be well situated to connect with individuals or organizations in their localities.

6. Applications for support to reduce financial pressures:

Applications for support to be used toward childcare or similar expenses are not tax-exempt, and will be awarded as an addition to a salary check, as a line of “additional compensation.”  This will be taxed at a lump sum rate, reflecting federal, state, city, and Social Security taxes.  A lump sum grant of $5,000 may result in a net amount of up to 50% less, depending on the amount of withholding allowances the faculty member currently claims on the W4 and IT2104.

7. Other Initiatives:

Other proposals on a modest scale are also invited. Examples might include special journal issues, or a guest speaker.


The Humanities War Initiative is managed by Sarah Cole, Dean of Humanities, and administered by the Director of Decanal Affairs in the Humanities, Jessica Lilien. Funding decisions and priorities are made by a steering committee, comprised of faculty in and beyond the Arts & Sciences.


The proposal must be submitted by a Columbia University or Barnard College faculty member. We very much welcome the involvement of graduate students in your project. Graduate student proposals have a separate rubric and are submitted in spring through GSAS.

Application, Deadline and Budget Guidelines:

Please submit a concise description of your project (no more than 5 pages). The categories above are suggestions and we are happy for proposals with a humanistic approach that straddle or connect several of these. Your project description should include your own and any collaborators’ brief professional biographies. A letter of intent from any primary collaborator outside of Columbia should also be included.

Applications must contain a projected budget and timeline. These projects may be completed in stages; all must have an endpoint for costs of June 30, 2022. For your budget proposal, please complete the editable budget form here.

In terms of scale, we have no absolute cap, but we advise that individual projects are more likely to be accepted with a budget of $5,000 or less.

The deadline for this final call for proposals is Monday, March 1, 2021.

Please direct questions, and send your proposals via email, to Jessica Lilien, Director of Decanal Affairs, Division of Humanities ([email protected]).