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International Institute Enterprise Fund (IIEF)

To generate bold new ideas about and approaches to international studies and education while incentivizing interdisciplinary and cross-regional collaboration. Funded projects should spur intellectual and academic innovation, address topics of global importance, and span multiple continents and regions of the world. Their implementations should create conversations and collaborations across the area studies community, broadly defined. All full-time, U-M faculty are eligible to apply. The total amount of each award will not exceed $25,000 per year. Proposals for smaller amounts are welcome.

Ineligible Expenses:

  •  U-M tuition and fees
  •  LSA course development
  •  Faculty salaries or compensation
  • Travel or living support for dependents
  • Computers, computer equipment, cameras, camera equipment

Application Deadline:

Not currently accepting applications

Eligibility Criteria

  • Priority will be given to proposals and projects addressing big ideas, such as climate change, spirituality, or culture in the digital age, and lead to tangible products, such as curricular advances in international and area studies, research publications, or preliminary work that gives rise to funding proposals for larger grants.
  • Priority will be given to multi-term or multi-year projects that will foster on-going collaboration among multiple U-M units and/or with international affiliates in one or more countries.
  • Proposals must be from two or more U-M faculty from different U-M departments/units.
  • Projects should be thematically based and must be interdisciplinary and/or cross-regional–spanning multiple area studies centers, U-M programs, and regions of the world.
  • Activities must in part take place on the U-M campus--at a minimum this may be a lecture, workshop, exhibition, or other presentation of the project deliverables.
  • Cost-sharing is required for all applicants. Centers and programs within the II aren encouraged to apply. If either additional staff or additional effort by existing staff is required for a project, the funds to cover this effort need to be included in the budget.

Selection Process

The International Institute internal steering committee, comprised of faculty from multiple U-M units, will evaluate the applications on the following criteria:

  • relevance of project goals to international and area studies

  • feasibility

  • scope of impact

  • potential for ongoing collaboration

  • quality of in-country contacts and depth of collaboration (where appropriate)

  • significance of project outcome and/or deliverable

  • overall quality of the application

Application Materials

  1. Online application

  2. Letter of endorsement from Department Chair or Dean. The letter needs to acknowledge awareness and support of your project and can be as short as a few sentences.

  3. Letters of endorsement from directors of all II centers or programs with which your project will primarily engage. The letter needs to acknowledge awareness and support of your project and can be as short as a few sentences.

  4. Description of the project (maximum length 5 pages double spaced) that includes:

    a. Brief abstract (250 words)

    b. Goals & Significance:  How will the project generate bold new ideas about or approaches to international studies and education?  What is innovative and significant about the proposal?

    c. Scope: What is the likely constituency of the project both on and off the U-M campus? Which units are likely to be most closely involved and to reap the benefits?

    d. Impact:  What will be the outcome of the project?  What are there tangible deliverables? What is the target audience for these deliverables?

    e. How will the project be evaluated, and what are anticipated measures of success?

    f. Timetable:  How will the project progress over the proposed timeline? Are there benchmarks or phases of the project?

  5. Current CV for each principal investigator/collaborator; and

  6. A budget form detailing anticipated costs and all sources of support (pending and confirmed)


Enterprise-Funded Projects

Campus Human Rights Index

Michelle Bellino (School of Education and co-director of the Conflict and Peace Initiative), Christian Davenport (Political Science and co-director of the Conflict and Peace Initiative) and Kiyoteru Tsutsui (Sociology and director of the Donia Human Rights Center and the Center for Japanese Studies)

The interdisciplinary project aims to develop a reliable, quantitative measure of university human rights practices and commitments. It will produce measures of human rights commitments at universities across the world and capture campus activities, institutions, policies, and statements promoting human rights and diversity, equity, and inclusion. The index will be updated annually with the aim to become the authoritative source for campus human rights climate data.

Conflict and Peace Initiative

Christian Davenport (Political Science), Michelle Bellino (School of Education)

The Conflict and Peace Initiative is dedicated to advancing a deeper understanding of the root causes, dynamics, and consequences of conflict and peace. The initiative has hosted major events, such as the Marching Forward series featuring Congressman John Lewis, as well as Interdisciplinary CPI Dialogues, which bring together scholars and practitioners from different disciplines.

Contested Innovation in the Global Silicon Valley

Irina Aristarkhova (Stamps School of Art and Design), Silvia Lindtner (School of Information), Robert Adams (Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning)

Contested Innovation establishes a cross-regional research collaboration between China and Russia to study the spatial ecologies of innovation. This includes how the market forces impact creative industries in Shenzhen and Skolkovo as well as Detroit. The project has produced publications, exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and new course material.

Global Digital Cultures: InterAsian Perspectives

Aswin Punathambekar (Communication Studies), Nojin Kwak (Communication Studies), Joyojeet Pal (School of Information)

Global Digital Cultures aims to build a collaborative research network that brings together faculty and graduate students from different disciplines, different international campuses, and at different stages in their careers to further research on the topic. The project has hosted a Doctoral Institute, speaker series, First Book Workshop among other Global Digital Cultures-focused events. The project is part of the Global Media Studies Initiative.

IKHLAS Initiative: A Research Initiative Studying Islamic Knowledge, Histories and Languages, Arts and Sciences

Professor Butch Ware (History), Professor Alexander Knysh (Near Eastern Studies)

IKHLAS develops the research profile of Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan with graduate instruction as a core goal. IKHLAS fosters research into historical and contemporary Islamic thought, knowledge practices, and epistemology through an interdisciplinary exploration of the traditional religious sciences. A clear focus on Islamic knowledge practices and epistemologies on the one hand and attention to diverse Muslim contexts helps distinguish IKHLAS from other national and international institutes.

Islamic Peace Studies Initiative

Juan Cole (History), Samer Ali (Near Eastern Studies)

The Islamic Peace Studies Initiative promotes academic research on the topic as well as the professionalization and recognition of of the subfield. The initiative seeks to recognize scholars and activists who have already made contributions to the subfield and encourage others to address it through conferences, lectures, and publications.

Michigan Islamic Studies Hub

Karla Mallette (Romance Languages and Literatures and director of the Global Islamic Studies Center), and Gottfried Hagen (Middle East Studies)

The project seeks to strengthen Islamic studies at U-M by expanding ties between campus scholars and the local community through a website portal and annual conference. The website will serve as a directory, providing a list of Michigan scholars working in Islamic studies, local Muslim cultural centers and programs, and a calendar of cultural and educational events taking place at area institutions. The annual Global Islamic Expressions Conference will focus on the arts, histories, cultures, and spiritual practices of Islamic communities.

Sustainability and Development Initiative 

Arun Agrawal (School for Environment and Sustainability), Ella August (School of Public Health), Bilal Butt (School for Environment and Sustainability), Ivan Eastin (School for Environment and Sustainability), Joseph Eisenberg (School of Public Health), Leela Fernandes (Women’s Studies and Political Science), Elisabeth Gerber (Public Policy), Meha Jain (School for Environment and Sustainability), Ken Kollman (Political Science), Maria Carmen Lemos (School for Environment and Sustainability), Nancy Love (Civil and Environmental Engineering),  Shelie Miller (School for Environment and Sustainability), Brian Min (Political Science), Joshua Newell (School for Environment and Sustainability), Anne Pitcher (Afroamerican and African Studies and Political Science), Lutgarde Raskin (Civil and Environmental Engineering), and Cristy Watkins (School for Environment and Sustainability).

The Initiative will focus on sustainable development, utilizing publications, training, and an annual cross-disciplinary Global Conference on Sustainability and Development. The goal of the conference is to provide a vehicle for students, scholars and practitioners to collaborate with U.S. and international partners, sharing and developing research on sustainable development goals. In addition, the journal World Development will publish at least one special issue each year from papers presented at the conferences.

Translations: Materiality and the Circulation of Ideas in the Premodern World

Miranda Brown (Asian Languages and Cultures), Ian Moyer (History)

Systematic study of cultural exchanges in the premodern world has been limited, and the Translations seminar series addresses this gap by inviting scholars to investigate the material conditions that enabled encounters between distinct scientific, religious, and scholastic traditions. The series will culminate in the publication of research papers and commentaries in a peer-reviewed, open-access journal Fragments: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Ancient and Medieval Pasts.


Q: What makes a successful Enterprise Fund project?

A: Successful Enterprise Fund projects approach a broad question or area of study from a unique angle and are both interdisciplinary and cross-regional. They are ambitious but realistic in scope. They use the Enterprise Fund grant as a seed fund to grow into a larger, self-sustaining project. For examples, please see the following projects:


Q: I already have an interdisciplinary project that I’m working on with several collaborators. Can I apply for an Enterprise Fund grant for this existing project?

A: Yes, if you are able to demonstrate how the Enterprise Fund will allow the project to expand in a new way. Since the II intends for the Enterprise Fund to launch innovative initiatives, however, projects that propose to do something new are generally more competitive.


Q: Why does the grant require cost-sharing? What form can that take?

A: Because the Enterprise Fund is meant to be the seed grant for an ongoing project, the review committee would like to see efforts to secure additional support beyond the Enterprise Fund. In initial applications, cost-sharing can include pledged support from PI’s home departments or schools, additional funding applications currently under review, or plans to secure additional funding in subsequent years of the grant. Faculty time is not considered cost-sharing.


Q: My project is an institutional collaboration with a university in another country. The IIEF requires an on-campus component. What does that mean for my application?

A: Your project will need to include some portion of on-campus activity in order to be eligible for the Enterprise Fund. The II wants to see how the project will have an impact on the University of Michigan as well as the international partnerships developed. An on-campus component could be a lecture on the project’s successes and challenges, a workshop for students about the project’s topic, or an exhibition of work related to the project. It could also be the development of course content related to the project. For more information, reach out to to discuss your project and potential eligibility in more detail.


Q: I am a faculty member at U-M Flint or U-M Dearborn. Can I apply for the Enterprise Fund?

A: Yes.


Q: I’m a graduate student. Can I apply for the Enterprise Fund?

A: Only faculty are to serve as PIs. If you work with two faculty members, you can be a participant in the Enterprise Fund project, but you cannot be the project lead.


Q: I’m a staff member. Can I apply for the Enterprise Fund?

A: Only faculty are eligible to serve as PIs. If you work with two faculty members, you can be a participant in the Enterprise Fund project, but you cannot be the project lead.


Q: I’m a lecturer. Can I apply for the Enterprise Fund?

A: Yes.


Q: I just received an Enterprise Fund grant but I will be on sabbatical/on a fellowship/away from U-M for the coming year. Can I defer the grant?

A: No, grants cannot be deferred. Your co-project lead will continue with project goals during your time away from campus. If needed, you can bring in an additional PI to assist with project work in your absence.


Q: I am a director of an II center or program and I am submitting an IIEF application. My project will most closely collaborate with my own center. Can I write my own endorsement?

A: The goal of endorsements from II center directors is to show that directors are aware and supportive of IIEF projects that may collaborate with the center. If your center is the only one at the II that will collaborate with the IIEF project, it does not make sense for you to reach out to a different II center director for a letter of endorsement. However, if your project will collaborate with multiple centers, the IIEF Review Committee would like to see an endorsement from another center director. In addition, given that you may expect your center’s staff member to work on the administrative aspects of your project, the IIEF Review Committee would like to see an endorsement from the cluster manager that oversees the administration of your center acknowledging his or her awareness of the project.


Q: I am a department chair and I am submitting an application. Can I write my own endorsement?

A: The goal of endorsements is to show that department chairs are supportive of their faculty members’ IIEF projects and are aware that department staff may need to provide administrative support for the projects. If you are the department chair and your co-PIs are also from your department, your associate chair must write the endorsement. If your co-PIs are from different units, they must obtain an endorsement from their own chairs.