ISLS Emerging Scholars Request for Proposal

The International Society of the Learning Sciences (ISLS) is a professional and interdisciplinary society dedicated to the scientific study of learning in real-life settings, and how learning may be facilitated with and without technology. The ISLS is pleased to announce a call for proposals for the inaugural year of its Emerging Scholars Program funded via a Wallace Foundation grant.

The multiple global crises of our times have prompted the learning sciences community (like other academic communities) to deeply consider how it can best address issues of equity of opportunities within the field, its respective institutions, and organizations. This includes developing a collective awareness about systemic challenges and adversities many scholars face in the pursuit, sustainment, and advancement of their scholarly work. Close attention to inequality of opportunities has enhanced ISLS’s collective awareness of diverse ways through which assets marginalized scholars bring to the field are systematically and systemically overlooked or unacknowledged.

ISLS recognizes these sociopolitical realities and strives to make change within its structures, policies, and membership. To that end, ISLS is strategically working to address the systemic marginalization of scholars in the field while simultaneously facilitating the development of a community of emerging scholars who will take part in further shaping and expanding ISLS’s research agenda in the years to come.

As part of these efforts, the ISLS Emerging Scholars program is designed to address systemic marginalization and underrepresentation in ISLS of scholars based on their ethnic, racial, cultural, and/or linguistic backgrounds, focusing particularly on scholars whose identities are also marginalized within their home and/or professional contexts. This program aims to attract emerging scholars regardless of their past or current membership status with ISLS. To that end, the program has four sub-goals:

  1. Recognize and support the outstanding work of emerging scholars that is related to the improvement of learning and/or learning environments for learners (of any age), and is designed to address injustices in education.
  2. Expand the field’s understandings of, and methods of studying, learning processes and learning environments.
  3. Support emerging scholars financially as they develop their research programs.
  4. Encourage and empower emerging scholars’ long term engagement in, and contribution to, ISLS while cultivating intellectual diversity in the field.

Given the Wallace Foundation’s interests, the emerging scholars funded by this program must be conducting research that has implications for marginalized learners in the United States. However, the scholars do not need to be U.S. citizens, nor do they need to be conducting research in the U.S.

ISLS Emerging Scholars will receive: $10,000 to support their research for one year; membership in ISLS for their year as an ISLS emerging scholar and the subsequent year; increased visibility within the society; and formal and informal mentorship into ISLS via events with other emerging scholars and senior scholars in the broader learning sciences community.

Scholars will be expected to present a summary of their work at the conclusion of the 12-month program and participate in most of the community events (no more than one per month).

Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  1. Submitting scholars must be:
    • From ethnic, racial, cultural, and/or linguistic backgrounds that are currently underrepresented in ISLS, with priority given to those scholars whose identities are marginalized within their home and/or professional contexts as well.
    • Early in their career, including senior graduate students and/or those who earned their doctorate in the last 5 years.
    • Undertaking research with implications for improving learning or learning environments for learners (of any age) in the United States, particularly scholars whose work—via methods or topic of study—is designed to address injustices in education.
    • Current members of ISLS, or willing to join ISLS.
  2. Submitted research projects must:
    • Be centered around research in which the emerging scholar is the primary intellectual lead (this could include a piece the emerging scholar has carved out of a larger grant for which they are not a PI or a project that they are the PI for).
    • Be projects that are newly conceived, or the continuation, or extension of existing work that goes beyond the scope of existing funding.
    • Seek to address educational injustices through the research methodologies and/or topics under study. Per the Wallace Foundation’s expectations, the research projects must have implications for marginalized learners in the United States, but do not need to occur within the U.S., or by US residents or citizens. The topics could include, but are not limited to:
      • design or study of learning designs, processes, or environments regarding any subjects or domains, including studies of learners, individual differences and identity development;
      • going beyond the individual learner to include topics such as school leadership, administration, policy, culture, and power dynamics;
      • and including in- or out-of-institutional learning contexts as well as virtual settings (e.g., prek-12 schools, higher education, museums, etc.);
    • Describe clear goals for the work and how the funding could support it.

To apply, please email a single PDF to [email protected] by September 1, 2021. The PDF should contain the following information:

  • Cover letter describing your background, experience, and/or commitments related to criteria #1 above (NO MORE THAN 1,000 words), including:
    • Being a member of ethnic, racial, cultural, and/or linguistic communities underrepresented in ISLS (priority will be given to those scholars whose identities are marginalized within their home and/or professional contexts as well);
    • Being an early career scholar (i.e. senior graduate student or within 5 years of earning PhD);
    • Undertaking research with implications for improving learning or learning environments for learners (of any age) in the United States in order to address injustices–via methods or areas of research focus–in education.
  • Proposal Narrative in which you address how your project satisfies criterion #2 by briefly describing the project (NO MORE THAN 1,500 words). The narrative should include the following sections:
    • Project purpose and rationale. Address the following topics: Project goals and motivation (if embedded in a larger project, differentiate between large project goals and goals for the specific portion of the project to be funded by this grant); description of the project’s intended contribution to the field particularly as it pertains to inequities in education; project timeline and main activities to meet goals;
    • Project plan and procedures. Address some or all of the following questions or related questions (depending on the research design): What methods are being employed and what is the rationale for those methods? Where is the study being conducted? Who are the participants? If the study is occurring in a learning setting (e.g., a school, after school club, museum, etc), what is the relationship status with the project site? If the project is part of a larger study, describe the relationship between this project and the larger study. Is the study already approved by the IRB? If you are analyzing existing datasets, describe the source of the data. What analytic approaches will you bring to the data interpretation? Etc.
  • Budget description in which you characterize how the funds will support your endeavors. ISLS does not require nor expect a line-item budget for this funding program. Applications can come from individuals or be run through the organization with which you are affiliated. Note that if the award is run through your organization, 0% can be allocated to indirect costs such as institutional facilities & administration or overhead. We encourage you to contact the ISLS Treasurer for any general or background questions about the funds and disbursement of funds ([email protected]). We also recommend you speak with a qualified tax consultant or institutional representative regarding any possible taxes for which you may be responsible.
  • CV
  • Optional documentation to provide, as appropriate:
    • Proposals may include additional pages for references;
    • Proposals may include two additional pages for tables and figures;
    • Proposals may include the identification of a mentor and/or other collaborating scholars.

Proposal review will be completed by the ISLS-appointed Wallace Grant Committee and, when necessary expertise is absent, by outside experts relevant to this work. Selection is done by the ISLS-appointed Wallace Grant Committee and not the Wallace Foundation.

Questions or inquiries regarding this program, please contact [email protected].

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