African Studies

2018 Student Research Grant Program

The “Africa at a Crossroads” Trans-Institutional Program at Vanderbilt invites undergraduate and graduate students from all colleges and disciplines to apply for funding to support student research pertaining to the program’s theme for the 2018 summer term.

Program Overview

“Africa at a Crossroads: Challenges and Prospects” is a two-year program funded by the Trans-Institutional Program (TIPs) initiative at Vanderbilt.  Working from this broad theme, we invite students to draw from their academic interests to explore the widespread notion that contemporary socio-economic, cultural, and political indicators demonstrate that Africa now stands at a pivotal point—marked by both infinite possibilities and lingering challenges.

Grant Funding

The “Africa at a Crossroads” program includes four different types of grants for student research:

  • SERVICE (STATESIDE) – Students may request funding to carry out voluntary service based in the Tennessee, United States. Students who apply for this category of funding will arrange to work with a non-profit organization of their choosing that serves African migrants, especially refugees.  Budgets for projects in this category may not exceed $700.
  • DOMESTIC RESEARCH – Students seeking an immersive experience can arrange to carry out research with established African communities based in the United States within and outside of Tennessee. Such projects should aim to understand migrants’ daily lives and continuing engagements with Africa.  Budgets for projects in this category may not exceed $1000.
  • INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH, STUDENT RESEARCH GRANT: Students may apply for funding to facilitate projects that require research time in Africa. Graduate students are limited to a $3,500 budget; undergraduates may apply for up to $2,500.
  • INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH, FACULTY-STUDENT COLLABORATIVE GRANT – Students may apply for funding to facilitate projects that are being carried out in collaboration with a Vanderbilt faculty member that require research time in Africa. Applications are limited to a $5,000 budget.


Grant funds are available only to Vanderbilt students (and faculty) who will not have graduated on or before Fall 2018.  Grant applications seeking support for international research in collaboration with other international travel plans (e.g. study abroad) should disclose these plans and demonstrate/make explicit how the research funds will not be used to support the costs of those other plans.  Students who wish to conduct international research in settings with security or health concerns must work with GEO/GSS at Vanderbilt to ensure their travel is in compliance with University policy.

Application Process

Students must submit a written proposal as detailed below and a letter of support from a Vanderbilt faculty indicating willingness to support and mentor the student through the research project.  The supervising mentor may assist the student in preparing the written proposal, but the proposal should represent the student’s own work.  For Faculty-Student collaborative grant, the application must clearly specify the division of work, expectations, and budget between co-applicants.

Research Proposal Components

  1. Grant Application Cover Sheet
  2. Abstract (200-word limit)
  3. Project Description (4-page, double-spaced limit)
    1. Introduction, including background and significance
    2. Project Design, including objectives and methods
    3. Timeline, with goals and target schedule dates
  4. Bibliography (if relevant)
  5. Budget and Budget Justification (1 page limit). Budgets should include only what is absolutely needed for completion of the project.  Any purchased equipment will remain the property of Vanderbilt University.
  6. Statement on compliance plans with Student Internal Travel Policy/SARAC guidelines (1-2 paragraphs). See this resource for more information:

  1. Letter of Recommendation from Vanderbilt Faculty

Application Submission and Deadline

The research proposal with faculty letter of support must be submitted electronically to Georgia Anderson-Nilsson, at, by 5:00pm on March 26, 2018.

Final Report and Presentation

At the conclusion of the project, recipients will submit a 5-10-page written report with interpretation and analysis of the project that is consistent with the standards of the student’s discipline. A project summary and results must additionally be presented in an oral presentation at an “Africa at a Crossroads” TIPs sponsored forum at Vanderbilt University. Each student must also provide a written blog post through the VU Breakthru blog regarding their project.

Research Compliance

Students whose research involves human subjects, infectious agents, hazardous chemicals, radioactive material, recombinant DNA, and/or copyrights or patents will need to submit a research protocol to the appropriate Vanderbilt committees for approval.