Three UM Professors Co-Host Grant Proposal Writing Workshop

Participants armed to apply for National Science Foundation funding

Participants in the Summer Course on Grant Writing in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences gather to socialize and discuss one another’s work. The group includes (from left) Nicole Jones, of the University of Missouri; Jessica Kizer, Pitzer College; ReAnna Roby, Michigan State University; Stacey Greene, Rutgers University, and Zhiying Ma, University of Michigan. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Three University of Mississippi faculty members in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology co-hosted a recent grant proposal writing workshop that drew scholars from nine institutions across the country to Oxford.

The Summer Course on Grant Writing in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, known as SCG, has been funded through summer 2021 by the National Science Foundation. The five-day workshop aims to help junior faculty prepare well-designed research projects and obtain funding with persuasive, compelling research proposals relevant to underrepresented communities.

“NSF funds very little research from Southern states and seeks to encourage more scholars from Mississippi and surrounding states to apply for grants,” said Kirk Johnson, associate professor of sociology and African American studies. Johnson and UM colleagues Willa Johnson and John Sonnett collaborated with University of Florida anthropologist Jeff Johnson to create the program.

Ten faculty members representing nine institutions attended the workshop. Participating universities were Delta State University, John Carroll University, Rutgers University, Michigan State University, Virginia Commonwealth University and the universities of Michigan, Missouri and Texas. Pitzer College is also participating.

“Participants did advance readings and critiqued sample grant proposals before they came to Oxford,” he said. “Once here, they listened to lectures and presented their research ideas in small-group discussions during the day, then did homework at night.”

Reviews of the SCG workshop have been glowing.

“SCG provided all the nitty-gritty about different NSF programs and the review process,” one professor wrote. “It definitely helped demystify the process.

“I really appreciate the fact that the workshop was geared towards underrepresented junior scholars. The whole space was full of respect, support and love. We gave each other candid, but constructive comments.”

Another said, “The real-life expertise was a great help. The small group brainstorming sessions helped elevate my projects and gave me wonderful insights.”

The workshop’s creators plan to track the group’s progress.

“We will follow each participant for five years to track how the workshop enhances their ability to fund their work,” said Willa Johnson, associate professor of sociology. “In the meantime, we will check in with each person annually to offer our help in reading their proposals, or interpreting comments from proposal reviewers.”

More faculty are encouraged to apply for the program.

“Anyone with a recent Ph.D. in the social sciences is eligible, but we are particularly interested in attracting talented scholars from the South,” Kirk Johnson said.

At its inception in 2015, the SCG was directed by co-principal investigators Jeffrey C. Johnson and Christopher McCarty, and assisted by Kirk Johnson and Sonnett. Willa Johnson joined the SCG faculty in 2016. Beginning this year, Kirk Johnson is the principal investigator and Willa Johnson and Sonnett are co-principal investigators. Jeffrey Johnson and McCarty are assisting as facilitators.

The deadline to apply for the next workshop is Feb. 1, 2019. For more information or to apply for the Summer Course on Grant Writing, email Kirk Johnson at