The Discourse Initiative Research Grant

The Discourse Initiative Research Grant

Program Overview

IHS is soliciting proposals in support of its Discourse Initiative, a series of conversations—in-person and written—aimed at drawing scholarly attention back to the broad intellectual tradition of liberalism. As part of this initiative, IHS offers faculty grants of $5,000-$25,000 to support major research projects that hold significant promise of advancing a deeper understanding of ideas within the liberal tradition. Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Liberalism and Its Critics, including engagement with and response to critiques from both ends of the ideological spectrum.
  • Key Challenges within a Free Society, such as tensions between liberty and equality, dynamism and stability, and freedom of speech and social cohesion.
  • Cultural Challenges within Liberal Society, such as protections for minority rights, the pace of change in an increasingly digital and globalized world, and the cultural requirements of a tolerant and pluralistic society.
  • Contentious Topics within the Liberal Tradition, including negative vs. positive rights, moral obligations within the liberal order, and contested meanings of liberal principles such as justice, equality, and democracy.
  • Liberalism in Times of Crisis, including the proper role of government in a crisis and how to balance competing goals, such as public health and safety, with civil liberties, the rule of law, and economic freedom in an emergency.

These grants may be used to underwrite direct expenses; pay research assistants, editors, or other contractors; or buy out time. As a non-profit organization, the Institute for Humane Studies has a policy against supporting institutional overhead or indirect costs when making grants to university scholars.


To be eligible to apply for a major research award from IHS, you must:

  • Be employed as a full-time faculty member at a four-year degree granting institution. Preference will be given to institutions based in the United States.
  • Possess a strong research interest in or knowledge of liberalism and/or classical liberal scholarship as demonstrated in the proposed research project.

IHS supports a diverse collection of faculty members across a wide range of academic disciplines within the humanities and social sciences. Qualifying fields of study include economics, political science, philosophy, PPE, law, history, sociology, business, psychology, literature, the visual and performing arts, and related disciplines in the social sciences and humanities.

The IHS Impact

The Discourse Initiative Research Grant has supported scholars in the social sciences and humanities. Recent recipients and projects include:

COVID-19 Implications

Implications for Travel

Given the significant uncertainty around travel due to COVID, IHS will continue to offer travel support via Discourse Initiative Research Grants with the following stipulations:

  • For travel-related expenses, we will only issue awards after the activity takes place, and you must complete the originally proposed activity (e.g. if you are receiving funding for travel to a conference, IHS will transfer funds only after the conference has occurred).

Awardees own and assume the risk of any travel-related expenses from cancelled activities (e.g. if your conference has been canceled, we will not pay for any costs or fees associated with modified or canceled flights, room reservations, conference fees, and the like.

Implications for Events

Considering continued uncertainty about the duration of the COVID pandemic and related governmental and institutional guidelines and policies, we will continue to monitor the situation for future IHS-sponsored events. IHS may consider grants for small gatherings that meet all state, local, and university guidelines and policies AND can move online if circumstances change, e.g., a book club or reading group.

Application and Deadlines

March 1, 2022 | Applications for fall 2022 are due.
May 2, 2022 |
Decisions announced.

Applicants will be notified of their application status within four weeks of the deadline. Applications submitted after 11:59 pm PST on the night of each deadline, will be considered in the subsequent review period.

Unsuccessful candidates still seeking funding are encouraged to apply to our other funding opportunities.

For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. If you still have questions, you can email us at to learn more.

Application Form

IHS Guidelines for Event Speakers

If the event includes speakers or discussion leaders, they must be included in the application and align with IHS’s speaker guidelines.