Call for Letters of Intent: Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowships 2022

June 22, 2022 by Sonja Johnston

The University of Toronto has been invited to make one nomination for the Mellon Foundation’s New Directions Fellowships. These highly selective fellowships provide support for exceptional faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who received their doctorates between 2010 and 2016, and whose research would benefit from their acquiring systematic training and academic competencies outside their own disciplines to advance a cross-disciplinary research agenda. Unlike other fellowship awards, this program does not aim to facilitate short-term outcomes, such as completion of a book. Rather, New Directions Fellowships are a longer-term investment in scholars’ intellectual range and productivity.

The details of the fellowship are available on the Mellon Foundation website.

Serious interdisciplinary research often requires established scholar-teachers to pursue formal substantive and methodological training in addition to the PhD.  New Directions Fellowships assist faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who seek to acquire systematic training outside their own areas of special interest. The program is intended to enable scholars to work on problems that interest them most, at an appropriately advanced level of sophistication.  In addition to facilitating the work of individual faculty members, these awards should benefit scholarship more generally by encouraging the highest standards in cross-disciplinary research.

Fellows will receive:

  1. The equivalent of one academic year's salary
  2. Two summers of additional support, each at the equivalent two-ninths of the previous academic year salary
  3. Tuition or course fees or equivalent direct costs associated with the fellows' training programs

Final budgets commonly range from US $175,000 to $250,000; the maximum is $300,000.  The term of the grant should cover a minimum of two years.

Priority will be given to applications that manifest 1) a strong focus on issues of race, ethnicity, and migration, or 2) a focus on filling in the gaps left by more traditional narratives in the history of the Americas.

The second field of study must be a foray into a new area of intellectual inquiry/subject and not just an enhancement of skills to go further in the primary field. Language study, technical training, or skills acquisition such as GIS mapping do not, by themselves, constitute a new direction.

In an effort to continue to address access issues that may have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a separate fund of up to $15,000 for access to collections that have not yet been digitized and cataloged or remain closed to outside visitors and require the paid support of a librarian or archivist to assist with research. Requests for this support should be entered in the budget category “Consultants and Professional Services.”

Deadline to submit the Letter of Intent: July 11, 2022 at 4:00pm EDT


  • July 11, 2022: Submit letter of intent, short CV, and draft budget to JHI via the online application form
  • July 14, 2022: One proposal will be selected by an internal committee of leading scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences and approved by the Vice-President Research & Innovation for full development
  • August 15, 2022: First draft of full proposal and budget are due. The internal committee will review the proposal with an eye to strengthening it
  • August 18, 2022: Comments and suggestions will be provided after review of the first draft. From this time on, JHI will provide full support as the application is developed
  • September 7, 2022: Final version of application is due. Please review Mellon Foundation guidelines for submission. Access to Mellon submission website will be arranged
  • September 23, 2022: Final deadline for Mellon Foundation to receive all components of application package

Application Process

For July 11, 2022, we need:

  1. A Letter of Intent from the faculty member. The letter of intent should be no longer than 2000 words and describe:
    • The faculty member’s research project and its significance
    • The training that is needed to perform this research
    • Where the applicant might choose to do that study (Toronto or elsewhere)
    • How the proposed new direction would contribute to the development of the field
  2. A Draft Budget that names a total request and outlines in rough terms how it will be spent
  3. A Short CV (five pages maximum length)

Please compile these into a single pdf document and complete the online application for this fellowship. Signoff from the Chair, Director or Dean who is your one-up reporting manager will be automatically requested when you submit your application.

On the basis of these materials, the internal committee will select the single applicant who will be asked to prepare a full application that will go through the revision process described above during the summer months in 2022.  

For the applicant who will develop the full application, a letter of recommendation will be requested from the candidate’s department chair or other senior colleague which should address the candidate’s preparation and the relationship of the “new direction” to the nominee’s research and pedagogy.  An additional letter of recommendation may be submitted from a colleague in the new field, if appropriate.


Questions about the Fellowship? Email JHI Director, Professor Alison Keith or call (416) 978-7415

Technical questions about the application? Email JHI Communications Officer, Sonja Johnston