Global Spotlight Grants — Faculty

* Due to technical difficulties with the online application, we have extended the deadline to Friday, November 1st. For questions, email:

International Research Seed Grants

Grants for faculty include the International Research Major Grants and the International Research Seed Grants.

About the Global Spotlight Grants Program

Global Spotlight is the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance’s biennial focus on a region of the world and a pressing global issue. In 2012-2014, the focus is on the region of South Asia and the issue of Global Food Security.

The initiative comes from taskforce recommendations, as part of the University’s strategic positioning effort. Funding is provided from Central Administration to support international scholarly initiatives at the University.

In 2014, the second year of the biennium, GPS Alliance will offer a grant program to support innovative research and the continued development of a global network of engagement and scholarship across the University. This program will target research and scholarly initiatives related to the Global Spotlight themes for 2012-14.

South Asia

South Asia is a complex region—politically, geographically, and economically—that serves as home to approximately one-quarter of the world’s population. While definitions of the region vary, countries included for the purposes of this grants program are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

The region boasts a rich cultural history and a wide diversity of religious and linguistic practices. The eight countries of South Asia are comprised of more than 2,000 ethnic groups and several hundred languages. The countries in the region are economically diverse with increasing opportunities for growth; however, they also confront substantial challenges in infrastructure development, education, public health, nutrition, and resource challenges such as water supply and access.

Food Security

Global food security—food access and quality, food use, and food availability—remains high on the list of critical global issues. Scholars, practitioners, and policymakers alike grapple with effective approaches for achieving sustainable access to food. Ensuring sustainable food security requires the perspectives of scholars specializing in agriculture; ecological systems; food production and markets; institutions at the local, national and transnational levels; water access and distribution; livelihoods and economic systems; human and animal health and nutrition; education and extension; households and families; and cultural and social life.  In keeping with the University’s land grant mission and the related responsibility to work toward solutions to vexing local and global challenges, this competition’s focus on food security is intended to illuminate pathways to increased food security among food insecure communities.

New Funding Partnerships

The Global Spotlight scholarly focus on food security is supported by an innovative funding partnership including the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC), the broader Global Programs and Strategy Alliance (GPS Alliance), the Institute on the Environment, and the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR). This collaboration will seek to foster interdisciplinary approaches to global food security in connection with social justice.

Guidelines for International Research Seed Grants

(Go here for information on the International Research Major Grants for faculty.)


Research team

Faculty and academic staff with PI eligibility from academic units throughout the University of Minnesota system may apply.

Research focus
Eligible grant proposals may focus on:

  • any aspect of South Asia (defined for this competition as including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka);
  • any aspect of global food security (we encourage projects with a focus on global food security and social justice, but all themes are eligible); or aspects of both South Asia and global food security.

Key priorities
Projects should address three key priorities:

  • Build international research partnerships and projects
  • Foster interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Supporting innovations in project articulation, implementation, and dissemination

Description of Award

  • The distribution of award funds will be determined based on the pool of proposals, but we anticipate the following:

    • Approximately four to five seed grant awards up to $20,000 each.
    • Funding to be used during an 18-month funding cycle: January 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015.

Selection Criteria

Research Team

  • Involvement of faculty from two or more academic fields and from more than one academic unit (college, department, center, etc.) within the University of Minnesota or from collaborating international institutions, with a preference for intercollegiate projects
  • Recently established or new international partnerships or contacts as relevant to the proposed project

Research Project

  • Addresses key program priorities: international partnerships, interdisciplinary collaboration, innovative initiatives and ideas
  • Intellectual merit and potential for impact on scholarship, policy and/or practice
  • Potential for continued funding
  • Plan to disseminate research in academic and/or public arenas
  • Quality of research design and methodology
  • Clear and feasible time line and implementation plan
  • Appropriateness of the budget to the proposed work

Special note for proposals focusing on global food security:  In keeping with the University’s land grant mission and the related responsibility to work toward solutions to vexing local and global challenges, this competition’s focus on food security is intended to illuminate pathways to increased food security among food insecure communities. In addition to the guidelines above, we encourage (but do not require) respondents to clearly articulate the relationship between their proposed work and pathways to increased food security.

Applied Research Grants:  In particular, a subset of the faculty seed and/or major grant awards will be made to projects that go beyond the criteria above to support outcomes-oriented research, which includes an explicit partnership between the research team (consisting of a broadly interdisciplinary mix of agricultural scientists and other natural scientists and engineers, and scholars with expertise in policy, economics, and other social sciences and humanities) and non-academic partners (e.g., from NGOs, corporations, governments, or civil society). The goal of these applied research grants is to focus on problems that are articulated in collaboration with outside partners, and focus interdisciplinary research and engagement from the University to addressing these problems. For these applied research proposals,respondents must clearly articulate the relationship between the proposed research and engagement, the needs of the outside partner(s), and pathways to addressing food security.  These additional criteria apply only to a subset of food security-themed projects.

Application Materials


October 28, 2013 (this date has been corrected)

Grants will be announced in December 2013.

Application Materials

Completed grant proposals must include the following components (see below for more details):

    1. Cover Sheet
    2. Project Abstract
    3. Personnel
    4. Project Description
    5. Budget and budget justification
    6. Letters of commitment from international partners (if relevant)
    7. Approvals and clearances
    8. Curriculum vitae from principal investigator or co-principal investigators


  • Global Spotlight grants online application (available June 2013)


  • Maximum length of 250 words (not including references and appendices, Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1-1.5" margins)


  • One page maximum (list including University of Minnesota participants with departmental affiliations such as PI/co-PIs, participating faculty, academic staff and/or graduate students; list of international partners with institutional/organizational affiliation and field or department)


  • 8 pages maximum, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font, minimum one-inch margins
    • Research question(s) and connection to Global Spotlight themes
    • Context in literature (and policy where relevant)
    • Research design and methodology or description of plan to establish research collaboration
    • Significance and potential for impact on scholarship, policy and/or practice
    • Project time line and implementation plan, including specific description of involvement of international partners
    • Dissemination plan (academic and public arenas)
    • Plan to generate additional future funding


    • Complete the budget form on the Global Spotlight grants application page (or create your own Excel budget document following this format)
    • Budget justification to describe budget line items (e.g., one graduate assistant to collect project data at 25% for one semester at hourly rate of XX)
    • Other funding: list other funding sources pending or received for this project (funding sources, project title, grant period, amount awarded)
    • Note on budget content: full project budget should be provided even it exceeds maximum funding for this award. Discussion of any matching funds should be included in the justification.
    • Note on faculty salary: seed grant funds may not be used for faculty salaries or stipends


    • Letters should address the willingness/capability of the partner to participate in the project
    • Letter should address any resource commitments by international partners that are important to project success or that are shown as matches in the budget


  • Attach documentation of approvals/clearances, or an explanatory document of up to one page addressing:
    • IRB approval (or application for approval) for proposed research if required (PI must provide documentation of IRB approval or waiver before funds will be released)
    • Description of any necessary research clearances or permissions required by foreign government(s) and their status. Please attach translations of any documents in languages other than English to the original document with your application.


  • 3 pages maximum per CV

Submission of Application


Grant Requirements

Research Report

Grant recipients will be required to submit a report within 2 months of the end of the project’s timeline.

The report should describe:

  • Activities that have been completed (e.g. specific deliverables with details)
  • Progress made toward the original goals of the project
  • Long-term sustainability and impact of the project
  • Additional funds secured or applied for to support continuation of the project (internal or external to the University of Minnesota)
  • Details on how the funds were used and any changes made in the use of the grant funds from the original proposal
  • Description of plan to communicate the outcome of the project not only through normal academic outlets (e.g., journals, presentations) but also to the public

Grant recipients will also be expected to participate in Global Spotlight research events to disseminate their findings and international research experience.

Frequently Asked Questions and Contact Information

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the definition of "Global Food Security?” and why was it chosen by Global Spotlight?
    Please read "Why Global Food Security?"
  2. Why was the region of South Asia chosen by Global Spotlight?
    Please read "South Asia?"
  3. What countries are included in South Asia?
    We follow the categorization from the United Nations. We acknowledge that the geographical categories are up for debate. For questions, email  
  4. Does my topic of research fall under the Global Spotlight themes?
    Your grant must fall under one of the following Global Spotlight themes:
    -  Scholarly research in South Asia
    -  Scholarly research on Global Food Security outside the U.S.
  5. Does the grant require research abroad?
    Yes, this grant requires and supports research outside the U.S.
  6. Will extensions of the research timeline be allowed?
    Requests for extension beyond the stated grants timeline will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Email with a detailed justification request.
  7. Can an individual project investigator apply for both a Major Grant and a Seed Grant?
  8. Are faculty salaries permitted in the Seed Grant budgets?
  9. I received a seed grant from the last grant round; may I apply again?
    Yes, if your proposed project is a continuation of your seed grant research, you may apply for a major grant. Address your accomplishments thus far and clear goals for the continuation and sustainability of your research.
  10. Do I need an Institutional Review Board approval?
    The IRB committee decides whether your research must be reviewed by the IRB. Documentation of an IRB exemption or IRB consent is required to be submitted before the transfer of funds. For more information, visit the Institutional Review Board website.

Contact Information

  • For questions related to the grants program, contact Rachel Peterson at