Proseminar on Scholarships, Fellowships & Grants Overview

Proseminar Description, Design & Goals

This professional development seminar, or Proseminar, focuses on major research project design for PhD, MA, and undergraduate senior and honors thesis writers. The Proseminar's principal goal is to facilitate the collaborative development of major research projects for major scholarships, fellowships, and grants applications. The Proseminar's current disciplinary scope is the humanities, qualitative social sciences, and education.

This Proseminar is designed as a workshop, and has been developed over two decades of teaching and consulting at multiple institutions, in addition to insights from past and recent award recipients and foundation referees. It involves a principal facilitator, with plans to move to a team-facilitated workshop in 2022. This workshop draws upon the creative writing workshop model’s attention to genre, style, and the revision process, as well as the research seminar’s practice of meta-critical interrogation. Proseminar activities are designed to optimize each component of an application, with special attention to refining participant research project designs and intellectual profiles, which are the core components of successful scholarships, fellowships, and select grants applications. Two supplemental components of the Proseminar are: 1) assisting undergraduate students with select documents in their applications for graduate schools; and 2) mentoring doctoral candidates to be competitive for the academic job market.

Proseminar Principles of Solidarity, Mutual Aid & Mutual Respect

As a workshop, all participants are expected to abide by all protocols and an ethos of mutual aid and mutual respect. The Proseminar is guided by the principle that true collectivist solidarity involves providing what is needed, when it is needed, despite the cost to one’s self, as opposed to just providing what is left over and no longer needed. Solidarity takes effort, and always involves taking on shared hardships. The effect is to build empathy and, equally as important, a broader collective force to address the issues at hand that required solidarity. This principle guides the Proseminar from beginning to end: it was developed as an effort to extend benefits reaped by the solidarity efforts of many people, including those with far fewer life choices and opportunities than university students and faculty. It has been refined and extended based on insights and materials from participants in preceding iterations at various institutions.

The greatest asset provided in solidarity with current Proseminar participants are the model applications produced and submitted by past workshop participants. Accordingly, students in this Proseminar are asked to share at least one item from an application that is collaboratively produced in this workshop, or that somehow benefitted from this workshop. All shared materials are treated as the intellectual work of the producers, and are respectfully used for demonstrative purposes only. No materials used or produced in this Proseminar can be shared or distributed to anyone who is not formally enrolled in this workshop or subsequent iterations, which of course are guided by the same principles.

Proseminar Successes

The Proseminar is in its fourth iteration at UCSB, and has been highly successful: since 2017 enrolled and auditing participants from UCSB and seven additional institutions have submitted over $7.15 million in applications, and have received approximately $1 million in awards, which include a half dozen Ford Fellowships, five UC President’s and UC Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowships, and numerous other awards.

The initiative has been funded by the Deans of the UCSB Graduate Division, Humanities and Fine Arts, and Social Sciences, as well as the Robert and Liisa Erickson Presidential Chair in English. This institutional investment of resources underscores the value of the work undertaken in this workshop, and has already paid exponential dividends.

Invitation to Join

Students and junior faculty at UCSB and all UC Campuses are invited to join the annual Proseminar provided they pledge to adhere to the collectivist principles outlined above, and the strict attendance policy that is required to ensure equitable contributions to this collectivist effort. The Proseminar is offered annually as a joint undergraduate and graduate course through three sections (ENGL 175GW, ENGL 265GW, and INT 201GW) every Fall Quarter on Mondays from 4:00-6:00 p.m.