Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship Grants - Application Guidelines

For the past two years, the Digital Media Lab (DMAP) has sought to develop capacity among faculty and graduate students in digital research and pedagogy, and to foster collaborative digital projects in and beyond the department. In recognition of the fact that these goals may require substantive time commitments, effort, and expenditures on the part of our department members, we are now offering monetary awards (from $250 to $1,000) through the Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship Grants program.

Applying for a grant requires a proposal of approximately 500-750 words in length. This proposal should provide a detailed description of how you will spend the requested money and defend the merit of the purchase.

A Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship Grant can be directed to numerous expenditures related to digital scholarship and pedagogy. Note that some of these categories encourage or require supplemental materials and that award levels differ by category.

Eligibility

Full-time, tenure stream and non-tenure stream faculty may apply for these funds. Several categories of funding also apply to graduate students in the department (noted below). Individual and partner/group submissions are encouraged, but groups of applicants should consist of at least one department member.

Categories of Funding:

There are four categories of potential funding at this time:

1. Funding to Help Support a Guest Speaker

This category of funding is intended to help bring a guest speaker to campus for a talk or workshop, or to fund a reception for a speaker who is already coming. The guest’s subject should relate to digital media, digital humanities, digital pedagogy, or some related subject (media archaeology, digital studies, etc.). Sponsorship acknowledgements should appear in all publicity materials using the title “The English Department’s Digital Media Lab at the University of Pittsburgh.” Sponsorship commitment levels (depending on the speaker’s relevance to our areas of focus) range from $250 to $1,000. Graduate students may apply for these funds only with a faculty co-sponsor.

Deadlines for submission: Accepted on a rolling basis during the Fall and Spring semesters

2. One-time Expenses Related to a Relevant Professional Development or Training Opportunity

This category of funding is designed to help defray the costs of registration and/or travel in order to attend a professional development opportunity closely related to digital media, digital humanities, digital pedagogy, or some related subject (media archaeology, digital studies, etc.). Academic conferences are eligible for this category, but the applicant must demonstrate in their proposal that the event will develop a specific competency, area of expertise, or other aspect of the applicant’s readiness to conduct digital scholarship or teach with digital tools and methods. Additionally, the applicant should demonstrate that the opportunity will provide experience or training that exceeds locally available resources. Award levels in this category range from $250 to $500. Faculty and graduate students may apply for these funds.

Deadlines for submission: Accepted on a rolling basis during the Fall and Spring semesters

3. Startup Costs for a Pilot Program or a Digital Project

This final category of funding is intentionally open-ended. Examples could include funding a percentage of an in-class experiment related to digital pedagogy, an award to fund a student employee, funding for a graduate student research assistant, or hiring an independent contractor such as a web designer or a programmer. Project ideas can be related to scholarship or pedagogy but, to be eligible for research funds, the applicant should have a research expectation in their contract. Requested funds should target the startup costs of your project, and ongoing financial support should not be assumed. Award levels in this category range from $250 to $1,000. Faculty and graduate students may apply for these funds, but only faculty may ask for funding to hire a graduate student research assistant.

Deadlines for submission: Twice per year (CFPs will circulate for each submission period)

4. In Rare Cases: Digital Expenditure or Discretionary Allocation Fulfilling a Programmatic or Departmental Need

If you have been asked to fulfill a programmatic or departmental need that is dependent on materials, equipment, or other support, this category of funding may be able to help address your needs. Faculty with the expectation of a digitally focused expense seen as crucial to the department may apply for funds in this category. As such, a letter of support from the chair should be submitted alongside the standard proposal form. Speaking to your program director before you contact the chair is also recommended. If the request includes funds for equipment purchase, the applicant must agree to take responsibility for the care and storage of all related equipment. Alternatively, the faculty member may seek out a support entity at Pitt (such as DSS or the Teaching Center) and devise a partnership that covers such stewardship functions. However, faculty should not assume such support will be provided, and should have worked out all details of such support before requesting DML funds. Award levels in this category range from $500 to $1,500. This category is limited to one award per professor per year. Only faculty are eligible for these funds.

Deadlines for submission: Twice per year (CFPs will circulate for each submission period)

Additional Funding Restrictions:

All funding requests should be consistent with Pitt’s monetary policies. Examples of policies that might affect your request include restrictions created by university-wide software agreement; contractual requirements that Pitt will not sign/authorize; graduate student stipends; and payments to prohibited vendors. Establishing sources of matching funds before applying is strongly encouraged. In lieu of such commitments, the applicant should list in their proposal all funding sources pursued, or address why the request is ineligible for other commonly sought funding streams.

How Proposals Will Be Evaluated:

A committee of people not applying for any awards will be assembled to review applications. Proposals will be evaluated using a rubric with five categories:

  1. The cost of the proposed expenditure as compared with its benefit
  2. Potential impact on the department (and beyond, if applicable)
  3. Feasibility of initial setup, including any technical support needed or already secured
  4. Capacity of Pitt to sustain or support the proposed activity (if applicable)
  5. Connection of the proposal to DMAP funding priorities

DMAP Funding Priorities:

Broadly speaking, DMAP seeks to facilitate departmental experimentation, connection, and collaboration for endeavors that are substantively related to digital tools and methods. More specifically, our current focal areas of support are as follows:

  • Critical Thinking and Complexity of Judgment: Encourage students and faculty to think critically about digital culture in comparative rather than binary terms, especially by resisting “Digital as Apocalypse” and “Digital as Utopia” tropes
  • Digital Stewardship and Sustainability: Increase awareness about the stewardship needs of services, equipment, etc., especially the need to think long term.
  • Diversity of Participants: Encourage greater diversity of participants in digital pedagogy and research and/or uses of digital that account for traditionally underrepresented peoples, including but not limited to women; people of color; people who self-identify LGBTQIA+; people of disadvantaged socioeconomic status; people from international and multilingual communities; people with physical disabilities; people with learning disabilities and other non-neurotypical cognitive function.
  • Diversity of Perspectives: Expose the department to a greater range of perspectives and practices on how to integrate digital tools and methods while preserving or even bolstering existing humanistic work.
  • Experimentation: To create a safe atmosphere where experimentation is possible. This includes shaping expectations for pilot projects, redefining standard of success, and recognizing the positive value of an experiment that doesn’t lead to “success” but still generates lessons learned.
  • Self-Determination: Empower faculty to learn and grow as practitioners and makers, and to be less dependent on outside support over time

To submit an application, visit http://dmap.pitt.edu/digital-pedagogy-scholarship-apply