What is a Program Initiative?

Program Initiatives exist to promote collaborations among Americanist faculty that foreground a question or a theme.

What are the expectations of the Program Initiative?

Program Initiatives exist to complete the following during their tenure with AMCS:

    Identify an intellectual focus and work collaboratively with academics from across diverse disciplinary boundaries;

    Stage interactions among scholars that create or enhance a collaborative intellectual community focused on their theme or question;

    Identify, propose, and execute final end products;

    Work with AMCS Staff to ensure productive outcomes.

What are the goals of a Program Initiative?

The ideal goal for the Program Initiative should be some sort of lasting knowledge product. It is important that participants in Program Initiatives feel free to imagine their own goals. Suggestions include published books and/or articles, conferences, lasting archives (physical and digital), and new team-taught courses. Not all Program Initiatives will necessarily result in all or even most of these - some may simply yield a robust reading group, which can serve as a valuable end in itself, creating an opportunity for collaboration that serves as a launch for future joint projects and knowledge production.

How long should Program Initiatives Last?

These vary but most Initiatives run between 3 to 5 years.

That seems like a lot of time. How can any group sustain momentum for that long?

We encourage our Initiatives to start small and build to a big project or endeavor over the 3 to 5 years. Most Initiatives use the first semester or even year to come to shared understandings of the field, identify projects, and articulate end products. From that first year through the next 2 to 4, the Initiative should continue building their events towards final goals. Budget Approval will be contingent upon a demonstration of progression.

Who can be a member of a Program Initiative?

Program Initiatives are open to all Washington University appointed faculty. There are no requirements to be part of a Program Initiative. Given the length of commitment that is expected from the Initiative, we have found that Program Initiatives function best when there is a blend of individuals at different career stages, ranging from tenured faculty to postdocs and part-time lecturers. Washington University graduate students – and faculty and graduate students from other institutions – are, of course, welcome to attend any events the Program Initiatives might stage, but membership in the Initiative, along with participation in its planning and reading activities is intended for those with Washington University faculty appointments.

How are Program Initiatives supported?

The Program Initiatives are housed and supported by the American Culture Studies Program at Washington University. Please note that it is expected that each Initiative will seek out other forms of financial support through their life cycle.

Given the fact that the first two years are identity- and goal-forming, AMCS agrees to support the majority of costs for the Initiative during this time. AMCS does expect that from the beginning Initiatives will seek out on-campus co-sponsorship and funding and by the Initiative's third year it will have applied for and received significant grant funding and will continue to solicit this level of funding for the rest of its life. Such shared revenue sourcing is dictated by AMCS's budgetary constraints as well as our hope that Program Initiatives will have developed strong project(s) that can claim the imprimatur of non-AMCS grant support.

How does one create a new Program Initiative?

Please submit a Mission Statement, a sketch of imagined projects and goals, which includes a timeline for their completion, and a member roster that identifies the Initiative’s Conveners to the AMCS Administrative Coordinator. A Convener should be a full-time faculty member who agrees to be the point person in communications with AMCS and with their Initiative’s members. Please feel free to contact the AMCS Administrative Coordinator with any questions or requests for assistance in putting together this document.

Upon review and approval, the faculty group will be asked for a tentative multi-year budget. Final approval of the budget will constituted final Initiative approval.

How is funding allocated?

Each Initiative is responsible for submitting a revised annual budget by November 15th of the year prior (e.g., Budgets for AY 2016-2017 are due by November 15, 2015). A link to an online form will be sent to each Initiative by October 1st.

Priority will be given to projects and proposals that point towards more lasting forms of knowledge production (e.g., contributions to the AMCS digital platform/living archive; conferences that result in a published volume), are innovative, and have sought out support from the community through financial contribution or other collaborations. Progress towards realization of Initiative goals will also be taken into account.

The Budget for each Program Initiative is properly marked and set aside in a separate sub-fund within American Culture Studies. Funds allocated but unused are allowed to roll-over for the first three years, but after that, all unspent funds will revert back to the Program unless a request for an extension is submitted and approved.

It is the expectation that Initiative’s Conveners work closely with the AMCS Administrative Coordinator to manage and track Initiative expenses.

What sort of Assistance and Resources are provided to the Program Initiatives?

In addition to financial support, AMCS is willing to provide administrative support for travel and event reservations, financial consultation and planning, and grant applications. Such needs should be clearly listed in both the original budget and Initiative proposal and with each subsequent annual budget.

Any questions or needs should be addressed to Jennifer Gallinat, Administrative Coordinator, at gallinat@wustl.edu or by phone at 314-935-5569.

key contact

Contact the AMCS office for more information: amcs@wustl.edu