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Call for Proposals: Migrations Research

Researching, Teaching, and Building for a World on the Move

The Migrations initiative at Cornell University aims to cultivate collaborations that advance science, scholarship, teaching, outreach, and engagement in ways that generate new insights into critical problems. We wish to provide a strong evidentiary basis for policy and to place the university at the forefront of migration studies around the world.

This call for proposals seeks to fund innovative research on migration phenomena that—all at the same time — cultivates dialogue, nurtures collaboration across academic disciplines, and integrates, synthesizes, and builds upon existing disciplinary contributions.

DEADLINE: December 18, 2019. Proposals must be submitted by this date. Applicants will be informed of their funding status no later than February 14, 2020.

Context for Proposals

Our world is increasingly in motion. The unprecedented pace, scale, and complexity of movement on our planet—particularly of humans, plants and animals — present a diverse suite of challenges and opportunities that play out across local, regional, national, and international scales.

Our infrastructure, urban design, housing stock, disaster relief programs, legal frameworks, business models, and international geopolitical systems need to accommodate the dynamic (and increasing) movements of human and non-human species into ways of thinking and relating to each other, and to the world.

Only through an interdisciplinary, multispecies, and systems-level perspective can we understand the causes and consequences of migration today. Only through such an understanding can we influence the way that migration is studied, governed, and even experienced.

Themes for Consideration

We encourage but do not require, applicants to consider how one or more of the following themes may be embedded within their proposed work:

1. Socioenvironmental dynamics and complexity

A variety of socio-environmental factors shape migration phenomena—for instance, rising global temperatures can alter migratory patterns of plants, animals, and other species, just as rising sea levels can damage or displace ecosystems and communities. As the distributions of species change, so too does exposure to the native and invasive pathogens, pests, and parasites that affect the health of human and non-human hosts, and the ecosystems upon which we all depend. The resulting impacts on social and ecological systems are expected to provoke local and indeed global movements at scales not seen since previous geologic epochs. Climate-related shortages in food, water, and economic resources—and the associated conflicts that come with such shortages—are projected in some reports to result in 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, and over 120 million more people in poverty by 2030.

2. Recognition of multiple spatiotemporal and hierarchical scales

Migration research requires attention to varying spatio-temporal geo-scales and units of analyses (e.g., individual, population, species, ecosystem).  These changing ecosystems can, in turn, create conditions that expel migrants “out” (e.g. through a warming climate, fire, invasive species, and through drought), and conversely can attract them “in.” Overlapping jurisdictions at the supra-national, national, state, local, and neighborhood levels also shape approaches to governance and civic engagement. These factors sometimes operate in tandem but often conflict as societies weigh the competing priorities of human dignity, animal protection, and ethical environmental preservation. These dynamics can change over time and from place to place, prompting important theoretical and empirical considerations for both multi-scalar and longitudinal inquiry.

3. Attention to the roles of governance, democracy, and authority

Social, political, and economic factors shape the decision to migrate and can either facilitate or deter migration or make it more deadly to various populations. State regulatory institutions are sometimes responsible for protecting the rights of affected entities, but often also represent interests that cause harm. In response, there have emerged collective attempts to hold institutions and governments accountable to the rights of migrating people and animals, and to the environments they call home. These protections are often in tension with a global market that shapes migratory flows primarily through capitalism and the market (including people, animals, plants, or other goods). These three forces—state, market, civil society—are therefore central analytical foci for any inquiry into migration.

Any migration or movement-focused topic will be considered for funding, and we ask that you consult the Migrations Taskforce Report for a more detailed evaluation of themes relevant to migrations that have been discussed by the taskforce.


All PI-eligible faculty at Cornell University are eligible to apply (tenured, tenure-track, professors of practice, senior research associates, and clinical-track faculty), as are faculty-led programs and centers within the university, irrespective of their college or school of origin.

Period of Activity

For this funding cycle, funds will become available in the spring 2020 semester, and all funds must be expended by June 30, 2022. Extensions beyond this date must be formally requested and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Reporting on grant-related activities and outputs is expected on an annual basis.

Supported Activities

There are four grant opportunities in this funding cycle. Applicants must designate which opportunities they are pursuing:

  1. Research (Individual Faculty)
  2. Workshop
  3. Cross-Disciplinary Research (Teams)
  4. Student Learning/Outreach and Engagement

Note: Applicants may include an engaged opportunity for undergraduates in any of these four grant opportunities. With support from the Cornell University Office of Engagement Initiatives, we will consider funding these opportunities on top of the primary proposal.

Individual Research Grants

$15,000 maximum award

The objective of this funding opportunity is to promote path-breaking research on migrations at Cornell University and, in particular, research with an impact that might resonate across multiple fields of study.

We are especially interested in proposals that:

  • Provide seed funding for the preparation of external funding requests that show high potential for continued funding for migration research, beyond the grant period
  • Build on existing strengths at Cornell University while extending work on migrations into new areas or collaborations
  • Advance research on migrations by junior faculty
  • Create networks and platforms for the study of migrations that facilitate connection among scholars from across the university and from around the world
  • Weave in engaged opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty
  • Have long-term, discernible benefits to the study of migrations at Cornell University
  • Conform to the highest academic standards

Workshop Grants

$15,000 maximum award

The objective of this opportunity is to support and co-sponsor migration conferences, workshops, seminars, events, and other activities organized under the leadership of Cornell University faculty.

We are particularly interested in proposals that:

  • Build ties between Cornell University faculty with an interest in migrations
  • Advance migrations research by junior faculty, in particular
  • Generate new knowledge that addresses key themes and concerns such as those identified in the Migrations Taskforce Preliminary Report
  • Have discernible benefits to the study of migrations at Cornell University
  • Conform to the highest academic standards

Team Research Grants

$150,000 maximum award

We seek proposals from interdisciplinary teams of faculty from across Cornell University, doing work on any subject related to migrations, as defined above. We will prioritize those projects that integrate knowledge across disciplinary families including natural and life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities.

We are interested in proposals that:

  • Demonstrate a clear interdisciplinary approach to the study of migration, and articulate why the project theme likely cannot be investigated adequately using a single disciplinary lens
  • Have a team led by co-principle investigators that come from at least two colleges or departments on campus
  • Prioritize the formation of a sustainable research team whose work is likely to extend beyond the grant period, and result in multiple, high-impact publications and/or opportunities for real-world change related to migrations
  • Provide research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, as well as (if involved) post-doctoral fellows
  • Weave in engaged opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty
  • Generate new knowledge that addresses key themes and concerns such as those identified in the Migrations Taskforce Report
  • Conform to the highest academic standards

Student Learning/Outreach and Engagement

$15,000 maximum award

In collaboration with the Cornell University Office of Engagement Initiatives, we are seeking proposals that create engaged experiences related to migration for undergraduates. Proposals will require students to engage actively and productively with off-campus partners, locally and nationwide, as well as abroad.

We are interested in proposals that:

  • Address a specific need, problem, or concern related to migration
  • Connect to course content and emphasize a variety of disciplinary perspectives
  • Offer opportunities for participants to engage in structured reflection
  • Include faculty, staff, and/or peer-mentorship opportunities
  • Incorporate some form of evaluation and evidence of impact on pedagogy, curricula, and/or community impact

Project Budget

Please complete the Excel budget template as part of the application.

Eligible activities include research/project staff stipends (including graduate student stipends and tuition), travel expenses for research and meetings, workshop-type events related to collaborative research, hosting of visitors, data collection, translation, website construction, and publication expenses. We encourage teams to employ up to two graduate students in their project, for which they may budget half tuition. This will enable those researchers to spend up to 15 hours/week on work dedicated to the research team for one semester per academic year.

These grant funds may not be used to fund faculty salaries, executive education programs, and items not specified in your project budget.

Budget line items are subject to review.

Awardee Responsibilities

  • Participate in occasional events through the Migrations Global Grand Challenge, including presenting at one research seminar during the grant period.

  • Submit annual grant reports and a final report (using a template provided by the Migrations Global Grand Challenge).
  • At the end of the grant cycle, prepare a news release announcing your results (in coordination with communication staff in the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs).
  • Acknowledge the Cornell University Migrations Global Grand Challenge in all project products (reports, publications, presentations, etc.) that were made possible, in whole or in part, through this grant.

How to Apply

  • All applications and supporting materials must be submitted electronically via Qualtrics.

  • All proposals must be submitted by Cornell faculty who are PI-eligible.
  • The completed application must be received by the application deadline of December 18, 2019 at 11:59 EDT.

Proposals must include:

  • Full CVs of the applicant(s) in PDF format.

  • Description of proposed project (maximum of three pages [five pages for research team grants], single-spaced, 12-point font, one-inch margins, PDF format). The proposal should be free of disciplinary jargon such that its significance and contribution towards advancing research on migrations (i.e. the movement of people, plants, and animals) can be easily evaluated by faculty reviewers representing diverse disciplines.
  • Completed budget template.

Please direct any questions about the grants or the application process to