PIIRS Research Communities


February 25, 2025

Further questions or inquiries about the PIIRS Research Community program can be addressed to
PIIRS Director Deborah Yashar
(cc:ing Executive Director Trisha Craig and Finance Manager Karen Koller).


A PIIRS Research Community consists of a multidisciplinary group of faculty and students engaged in the study of a common theme of broad comparative, global and/or existential significance. The proposed theme ideally should address more than one region of the world and engage multiple disciplines to foster innovative thinking about the topic. As examples, themes might focus on democratic challenges and backsliding; sustainability; migration, refugees, and borders; economic precarity; war and order; social justice; etc.


Awards will vary depending on the scale and innovation of the enterprise being proposed. PIIRS will award each accepted research community up to $750,000 spread over three years. Of course, smaller-budget proposals will also be considered. All proposals should meet the requirements below.


Research communities are established initially around a minimal core community of at least three faculty members from at least two different departments, who will act as a steering committee for the broader community. Core community members commit to attending the community’s monthly meeting, to participating in the community’s leadership, and to engaging in the community’s activities. Research communities, however, are open for participation by all Princeton faculty and students, and any Princeton faculty member is eligible to become a community member. Indeed, research communities are expected to integrate a broader set of faculty and students — ideally expanding their membership over the course of their three-year funding cycle (including colleagues at Princeton but also from other institutions, where relevant and possible). Each spring, within its three-year funding cycle, the community steering committee must present PIIRS with an annual plan and budget covering the activities of the community for the following year.

As a condition of funding, research communities are required to do at least three things:

  • First, they must make a compelling case for the importance of the organizing theme, why it will motivate an interdisciplinary group to creatively and productively engage the topic, and how the community plans to advance research on the topic. 
  • Second, they should meet at least once a month, with the expectation that core community members will normally attend. These community meetings could assume a variety of formats. For example, a research community might choose to organize public panels (inviting in outside speakers), an annual conference, internal workshops (for community members to discuss their own research), reading groups (to discuss a particularly interesting book or article relevant to the community theme), etc. Whatever the proposed mix, there must be a public component each semester – i.e., regular public panels and/or larger workshops/conferences.
  • Third, research communities are expected to demonstrate impact on graduate and undergraduate training during the three-year funding cycle. This requirement could be fulfilled, for example, by incorporating students into the research project (as RAs and/or supporting their summer research or internship), sponsoring an undergraduate course (including a Global Seminar) on the community’s theme, organizing a graduate course or graduate student workshop on a related theme, etc.

The proposal should sketch out a three-year plan. Classically, such communities have followed the following format:

  • The first year of a community’s three-year funding cycle is generally devoted primarily to establishing the contours and focus of the community. It might involve a series of activities (community meetings, lectures, and workshops) intended to solidify the community while clarifying its goals and expanding its membership. We encourage communities to expand their community by incorporating scholars (and/or institutions) around the globe — via in person meetings and/or hybrid formats.
  • The second and third years of a community’s funding should actualize the goals decided in the prior year — for example, organizing conferences geared towards an edited volume or special journal issue; forging podcasts on related themes; strengthening international networks and collaborations; etc. Where a compelling case can be made, research communities might propose to host visiting fellows or postdoctoral students who are working on the theme of the community.
  • Under special circumstances, a research community might apply for continued funding. While there is a possibility of additional funding, not all communities will or should seek to continue their activities beyond the three years of committed PIIRS funding. Success of a community will be judged by the size of the community’s core faculty, attendance at its activities, publication results, curricular/pedagogical footprint, and the international networks it has established. Typically, communities seeking another cycle of funding will also need to demonstrate evidence of application for significant external or internal funding from sources other than PIIRS.
  • NB: All community activities are to be run by core community members. It is strongly recommended that communities also budget for an internal assistant to help with coordination, research assistance and other tasks. In some cases, they might request the support of PIIRS staff.



PIIRS will seek an initial 2-3 page pre-proposal describing the theme of the proposed community and identifying other Princeton faculty who might be involved. Pre-proposals must be made by groups of at least three Princeton faculty members from at least two academic departments. Pre-proposals are not expected to indicate detailed plans of activity; but they should give an indication as to why the chosen theme would be suitable for establishing a PIIRS Research Community and who at Princeton might be possible participants in such a community. Pre-proposals should be sent by December 1, 2024 to PIIRS Director Deborah Yashar.


Some pre-proposals received will be asked to develop a more detailed application. This more extensive application will consist of a 7-10 page application, due by February 15, 2025. The application should include the following:

  • A more detailed elaboration of the theme of the community and its importance across multiple world regions and academic disciplines;
  • A list and description of the faculty who have agreed to become core community members (and evidence that they have committed to participate in the community’s monthly meeting);
  • A list of other faculty who might be asked to participate (including colleagues at other institutions around the world);
  • Indication of if and how the proposed community intersects with other PIIRS programs/centers and/or other university programs, centers, and departments;
  • A plan and budget for the community’s first year of activities;
  • A short description of the kinds of community activities that might be undertaken in future years, including a statement of whether the community anticipates a visiting fellows program (if so, why this would be necessary to the research plans and project) and possible ways of satisfying the curricular requirement. Examples of sample budgets are available (please write Karen Koller);

Further questions or inquiries about the PIIRS Research Community program can be addressed to PIIRS Director Deborah Yashar (cc:ing Executive Director Trisha Craig and Finance Manager Karen Koller).

Current Research Communities