Research Communities

Through the Research Community initiative, PIIRS provides funding to groups of Princeton faculty in support of research, teaching and scholarly dialogue within international studies that cuts across disciplines and world regions.

About Research Communities

A PIIRS Research Community consists of an interdisciplinary group of faculty and graduate students engaged in the study of a common theme of broad comparative or global significance. The proposed theme should cut across all regions of the world, engage multiple disciplines, and have cultural, social and political dimensions that open up the possibility for interdisciplinary and cross-area intellectual engagement. PIIRS will award each accepted research community up to $750,000 spread over three years.

Research communities are established initially around a minimal core community of five faculty members from at least three different departments, who will act as a steering committee for the 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 core community member. Moreover, research communities are expected to undertake efforts to expand their core membership over the course of their three-year funding cycle. 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. All community activities are to be run by core community members with the support of PIIRS staff. It is strongly recommended that communities also budget for an internal assistant to help with coordination, research assistance and other tasks. 


As a condition of funding, research communities are required to meet at least once a month in a community meeting that all core community members are normally expected to attend. These community meetings could assume a variety of formats. For example, a research community might choose to hold its community meetings over dinner and use them to discuss a particularly interesting book or article relevant to the community theme, bring in an author to talk about his or her work, or hear presentations from faculty about their own research. As a second condition of funding, research communities are expected to demonstrate some form of impact on graduate and undergraduate training during the three-year funding cycle. This requirement could be fulfilled, for example, by sponsoring a graduate or undergraduate course on the community’s theme, by organizing a workshop for graduate students, or by sponsoring an annual undergraduate summer research internship on the topic of the theme.   

The first year of a research community’s three-year funding cycle is to be devoted primarily to establishing the community and should involve a series of activities (community meetings, lectures, and workshops) intended to solidify the community and the common interaction of its members while clarifying its goals and expanding its membership. The second year of a research community’s funding cycle will be the community’s “focus year,” in which (in addition to lectures and workshops run by core community members) additional funds will be invested to support a visiting fellows program for the community and fellowships for graduate students working on the theme of the community. The final year of funding is aimed at community consolidation and transition, with the possibility of a fourth year of some bridge funding with the approval of PIIRS (and should the members of the research community decide that its work merits continuation). Not all research communities will or should seek to continue their activities beyond the three years of committed PIIRS funding. Success of a research community will be judged by the size of the community’s core faculty, attendance at its activities, the quality of its discussions, and its publication results. Typically, communities seeking bridge funding will also need to demonstrate evidence of application for significant external or internal funding from sources other than PIIRS. 


Read about the application process.

Miguel Centeno Discusses the Global Systemic Risk Research Community 00:45

Create a Community

To learn more about Research Communities or to apply, contact

Stephen Kotkin
Director, PIIRS