The International Institute (II) at the University of Michigan awarded Enterprise Fund awards to five faculty-generated proposals aimed at interdisciplinary and cross-regional collaborations.

“We are honored to support these innovative research projects that transcend international borders as well as traditional intellectual and geographical boundaries. They showcase the depth of breadth of U-M’s faculty expertise,” says Pauline Jones, director of the International Institute.

The Enterprise Fund was created to generate bold ideas about and approaches to international studies and education, incentivizing interdisciplinary and cross-regional collaborations. Ideal projects spur intellectual and academic innovations, address topics of global importance, and facilitate conversations and collaborations across the wider area studies community. The next application deadline is May 15, 2017. For more information on the Enterprise Fund, please visit the website.


The 2016 Enterprise Fund projects and initiatives are:

The Global Digital Cultures: Inter-Asian Perspectives project aims to build a collaborative research network bringing together faculty and graduate students from different disciplines and international campuses, as well as at different stages of their careers. The project will explore the rise of digital media and the digital impact on socio-cultural, political, and economic terrains of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia, as well as parts of Central Asia and the Middle East. 

The project was proposed by Nojin Kwak, director of the Nam Center for Korean Studies and professor of Communications Studies; Joyojeet Pal, assistant professor with the School of Information; and Aswim Punathambekar, associate professor of Communications Studies.

Their goal is to move beyond established geographic boundaries while building rich, contextually grounded, and place-based area studies scholarship.


The Islamic Peace Studies Initiative will promote academic research on the subject, as well as the professionalization and recognition of the subfield. The initiative was proposed by Juan Cole, director of the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies and the Richard P. Mitchell Professor of History and Samer Ali, associate professor of Near Eastern Studies. They believe while the subfield of Christian Peace Studies is well developed, the academic study of peace and conflict resolution in regards to the Muslim world and Islamic tradition is not.

An inaugural conference is planned for spring 2017, with annual conferences or workshops to follow. In addition, several books generated from the inaugural conference and a central website housing bibliographies, teaching aids, and occasional papers are planned.


Translations: Materiality and the Circulation of Ideas in the Premodern World is a series of seminars addressing the study of cultural exchanges in relation to the circulation of materials and technologies between ancient and medieval societies. Scholars taking part in the seminars will investigate the material conditions enabling encounters between distinct scientific, religious, and scholastic traditions. Research papers and commentaries from the seminar will be published in the peer-reviewed, open-access journal Fragments: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Ancient and Medieval Pasts.

The project was proposed by Miranda Brown, professor of Asian Languages and Cultures and Ian Moyer, associate professor of History. They hope the project will foster conversations among different area studies programs and disciplines, as well as create a cohesive sense of community between scholars working on the premodern.


The Conflict and Peace Initiative will explore a new approach to conflict/violence and peace by working with multiple disciplines to address the topic in a distinct way. Traditional means, including conferences and workshops, will be utilized—as well as less traditional vehicles, including film and graphic novel series.

Christian Davenport, professor of Political Science and faculty associate with the Center for Political Studies, Institute for Social Research and John Ciorciari, assistant professor with the Ford School of Public Policy, proposed the initiative.

Their objective is to develop a new approach to studying the topic, as well as methods to communicate this new understanding to a wider audience.


The project Contested Innovation in the Global Silicon Valley: Skolkovo, Russia, and Shenzhen, China, aims to create a cross-regional Chinese-Russian research collaboration to study the spatial ecology and current products that come from Shenzhen and Skolkovo—within the context of material culture studies, design, art, and new media theory.

The project was proposed by Robert Adams, associate professor with the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design; Irina Aristarkhova, associate professor with the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design, and Women’s Studies; and Silvia Lindtner, associate professor with the School of Information and the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design.