Polson Institute Grant Opportunities

The Polson Institute for Global Development supports research that enhances the signature strengths of the Department of Global Development and promotes collaboration among faculty and students. We are especially interested in proposals that promote research at the intersection of systemic inequality and social-environmental justice, and that focus on the advancement of global development as a critical, innovative and participatory practice.

Small Grants

Designed to provide seed funding for collaborative research, teaching or extension, or support speakers and workshops

  • Range of award: $500 - $5,000
  • Activities: seed grants to support new research, extension or teaching collaborations, including field work, or host speakers and workshops

Collaborative Grants

Designed to promote engagement across Global Development's Signature Strengths in areas of wellbeing and inclusion, environmental sustainability, and food and nutritional security

  • Range of award: $5,000 to $20,000
  • Activities: seed grants for new research, extension and teaching initiatives. Must promote collaboration and include a conference or workshop that benefits the broader Global Development Department

Research Working Groups

Designed to promote sustained, cooperative research activity and reading groups in substantive and methodological research areas of interest to students and faculty in the Department of Global Development

  • Range of award: $1,000 to $3,000/yr, maximum 3 years.
  • Activities: RWGs typically meet to discuss books and other readings and develop a common project around a research theme. When RWGs extend into a second year, possible activities include: holding an international conference; preparing a proposal for obtaining funding for a collaborative research project; preparing curricular or other pedagogical materials to enhance teaching in a particular area of global development; publishing a co-authored or co-edited book; preparing outreach-oriented or policy-related materials that build bridges between academic scholarship on development and public policy or program administration


    Proposals must be led by research, teaching or extension faculty in the Department of Global Development. Collaborations with students, faculty in other departments and the broader development community are encouraged. Students are encouraged to initiate conversations with faculty about collaboration around common research interests. 

    Submission Process 

    • Proposal: The maximum proposal length is 1000 words, and should contain a title, 150 word abstract (suitable for publication on the Polson Institute website), clear description of the project objectives, main tasks, collaborators, benefits to the broader Global Development department, and potential outcomes.

    • Budget: A short description of budget and justification. Polson funds can be used for travel (conference travel not covered), workshops, research expenses (including students). Faculty and staff salary support, fringes and overhead are not allowed, except for soft funded personnel (thoroughly justified & limited to no more than 25% of grant).

    • Period of activity: All funds must be used within one year of the award date. A six-month no-cost extension may be requested by submitting a summary of accomplishments as well as a plan and timeline for completion of the remaining activities. Unused funds will be returned to the Polson Institute.

    • Review Criteria: The Polson Institute Steering Committee will review all requests and assess proposals on their contribution to the signature strengths of our department. Proposals will be reviewed on several criteria, including the clarity of the proposed activities and outcomes, prospects for new contributions to the literature and for external funding, and the project’s wider benefits to the department, including students. Proposals are encouraged to engage students, partners across the university and the broader development community.

    • Sharing Results: All grant recipients must provide a written report on their work (for communications and for academic publications). Recipients are encouraged to offer a departmental seminar and make their events open to the broader department.

    Email as a combined PDF to polsoninstitute [at] cornell.edu (polsoninstitute[at]cornell[dot]edu)


    • Fall semester: deadline Oct. 16; awards announced by the end of November

    • Spring semester: deadline March 18; awards announced by the end of April

    The Polson Institute for Global Development reflects the commitment of its benefactors, former faculty Ruth and Robert Polson, to the community and international connections forged through collegial research, teaching, and the study of social change.


    Feel free to contact members of the Polson Institute Steering Committee.

    Mildred Warner headshot
    Mildred Warner

    Professor, City and Regional Planning, AAP


    Department of Global Development

    Director, Polson Institute for Global Development

    Department of Global Development

    Mildred Warner
    Terry Tucker headshot
    Terry Tucker

    Professor of the Practice

    Department of Global Development

    Co-Director, Graduate Field of Global Development

    Department of Global Development

    Terry Tucker
    International agriculture & rural development
    Participatory research & extension
    Higher education & development
    Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman headshot
    Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman

    Senior Extension Associate

    Department of Global Development

    Director, Education Minor

    Department of Global Development

    Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman
    Community development
    Civic engagement
    Engaged learning and research
    Jack Zinda headshot
    John Zinda

    Assistant Professor

    Department of Global Development

    John Zinda
    Environmental sociology
    Risk and disaster
    Political ecology