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College of Arts & Sciences
Walker Institute

Proposal Components

Writing a compelling and clear proposal is a key to success in all Walker Institute student competitions. No matter how novel or rigorous the proposed project or trip, applicants that can clearly explain to the awards committee why their proposal is interesting, exciting, and worthy of funding have a much higher rate of success in these competitions than those who cannot. A major part of this task is ensuring that your proposal addresses each of the following components below

1) A clear statement of the goals and objectives of the proposed project or trip. This should include a clear explanation as to why the proposed research or trip addresses an international topic, and therefore falls under the “international” focus of the Walker Institute. What exactly will you do on this trip/during this research project? Is the project on an international topic (for example, the migration of people from Africa to Europe across the Mediterranean; the globalization of finance; the study of Asian education systems) or is it a general topic that will be executed overseas (for example, a project on basic chemistry, but executed in a lab in another country). The Walker Institute is much more likely to fund projects and trips aimed at building experience and knowledge on international topics.

2) A clear explanation of the significance and impact of the proposed project or trip. For example, how will the proposed study abroad experience build your educational portfolio to help you achieve longer-term career goals? How will the proposed research project contribute to your undergraduate education, or help further your research career?

3) (For research proposals) how does the proposed research project build on previous research/knowledge in the field, and how might this project add to that knowledge? Proposals that make no reference to existing studies and research generally fare poorly in grant competitions.

4) (For research proposals) how will you execute the proposed research? Be specific. For example, if you are proposing to conduct social research, will you be using interviews, focus groups, surveys, or some other method to gather data? Why will you use this method – what makes it appropriate? How will you analyze that data? The awards committee weighs methods heavily, as they speak to the likely success of the proposed research. 

5) Project/trip timeline: when will you travel, and for how long? Explain the length of the trip. For example, for study abroad funding applications, is this long enough to complete the terms and courses required for the trip to have the desired impact on your career? For research proposals, can you gather the data you need in the time you have proposed?

6) (For research proposals) What are the anticipated results/final products and dissemination? Given your understanding of the literature and the field, what are the things you expect to find (hypothesize). What will you produce as a result of this funding – a presentation, a publication, or something else? Good research deserves dissemination to the widest possible audience – where will you share this research?


Please ensure that your proposal addresses all of these components in some form or other. Proposals do not have to follow the structure above, nor do they need sections that cover each of these topics – instead, they should ensure that the reader can clearly see the answer to each of these questions as they read the proposal.