Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy

Research in Democracy Support Grants

Research in Democracy Support Grants

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy provides research support grants of up to $7,500 for faculty or graduate students within the College of the Liberal Arts. These grants are designed to support research in topics related to democracy. 

Projects grounded in either the social sciences or the humanities are equally eligible for consideration. Research conducted with undergraduates is strongly encouraged. 

Priority will be given to proposals that coincide with the research agendas of the Institute’s two research centers: the Center for Democratic Deliberation (CDD) and the Center for American Political Responsiveness (CAPR).  We especially encourage proposals that broadly address one of the following research clusters within the Institute: 

  • Democratic Dissent, Protest and Deliberation: addressing questions about how forms of dissent and protest—whether in social movements or institutions of governance—contribute to our understanding of democracy.
  • Political and Social Polarization, Discord and Division: addressing questions about polarization among elites and citizens, or excessive partisan conflict in general.
  • Political Participation, Civic Engagement and Democratic Responsiveness: addressing questions of political and civic participation, public demands and opinion, and how parties and politicians respond.
  • Guardrails of Democracy: addressing questions of how norms and institutions can guide and protect democratic politics from uses of power that threaten it.

Application Requirements

The grant program is only open to faculty and graduate students in the College of the Liberal Arts.

The application cycle for 2025 will begin in January. In general, applications should include:

  • A brief narrative description of the project.
  • Justification of how the project advances one of the research clusters.
  • A brief accounting of expected expenditures (up to $7,500).
  • A time frame for spending the requested funds (ideally funds will be spent during summer 2024, but may be spent through the end of FY 2024-2025).
  • Graduate student applications should be accompanied by a short note of support from the student’s adviser.

Allowable expenses include but are not limited to

  • Salary for undergraduate or graduate research assistants.
  • Purchase of research materials (purchases of IT equipment and books are not permitted.
  • Travel for research (conference travel is not covered).  

 We cannot fund class releases or summer salary.

Final funding decisions will be made by the directors of the CDD and CAPR in consultation with the Institute’s faculty advisory board. 

Previous Recipients

A list of previous grant recipients and their funded projects is available here.