Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: New Directions Fellowships

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: New Directions Fellowships

Deadline to Apply: September 21, 2023

Penn State has been invited to nominate a candidate for the Fall 2023 New Directions Fellowship competition. These fellowships provide support for exceptional faculty in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who received their doctorates between 2011 and 2017. Fellows undertake systematic training beyond their fields of specialization in order to acquire the new competencies needed for the pursuit of a cross-disciplinary research agenda. This fellowship does not aim to facilitate short-term outcomes, such as completion of a book. Rather, it is a longer-term investment in the scholar’s intellectual range and productivity.

What do you look for in candidates? “Above all, we want the idea of a ‘new direction‘ to be prominent. We try very hard not to prescribe what that might look like. We seek a candidate who already has a demonstrated capacity for producing important work in their home discipline, who has imagination and creativity, and who has a thoughtful plan for systematic training in another field. A New Directions Fellow is someone whose intellectual spark is matched by incredible persistence.” – Cristle Collins Judd, former program director


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 formal expertise. The program is intended to enable scholars in the humanities 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 in the humanities more generally by encouraging the highest standards in cross-disciplinary research.

  • Priority will be given to applications that manifest 1) a strong focus on questions of social justice as they pertain to minoritized populations, or 2) an investment in 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 recognize and address travel and access constraints related to the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic:

  • Supplemental funds up to $15,000 will be available for scholars who require access to collections that have not yet been digitized and cataloged, or who require the paid support of a librarian or archivist to assist with research where collections are closed to outside visitors because of the pandemic. For example, payments from this supplement may be budgeted for library or special collections partners who would work closely with the New Directions fellow to identify and define archival or library collections that can be digitized and made available for study by the fellow and—when feasible–to members of the general public.
  • All applicants should include a concise plan of no more than two paragraphs outlining alternative arrangements should research activities be constrained by the long-term continuation or a resurgence of the COVID-19 or other pandemic.


Eligible candidates will be faculty members who were awarded a doctorate in the humanities or humanistic social sciences within the last six to twelve years and whose research interests call for formal training in a discipline other than the one in which they are expert. Such training may consist of coursework or other programs of organized study. It may take place either at fellows’ home institutions or elsewhere, as appropriate. Although we anticipate that many fellows will seek further study within the broadly defined sphere of the humanities and humanistic social sciences, proposals to study disciplines farther afield are eligible. The criteria for selection are: (1) the overall significance of the research, (2) the case for the importance of extra-disciplinary training to further the research, (3) the likely ability of the candidate to derive satisfactory results from the training program proposed, and (4) a well-developed plan for acquiring the necessary training within a reasonable timeframe.


The budget should include items for salary and standard fringe benefits (including yearly increases), projected training costs, and project-related travel. The budget may include funds to cover expenses related to attending vital professional meetings. In addition, lodging expense related to research and training activities can be covered for stays of no longer than a semester. Requests for housing supplements may be included for longer periods when the projected cost of living in the city where study is to be pursued substantially exceeds the costs incurred when the fellow is working at the home institution.

Funds may not be used for overhead or indirect costs nor to stage conferences, symposia, seminars, or events related to the project. The Foundation assumes the needs for equipment or research assistants will be met by the fellow’s home institution.

Final budgets commonly range from $175,000 to $250,000; the maximum is $300,000. The term of the grant should cover a minimum of two years. Budget periods should align with reporting dates that work for the institution, but the first budget period must begin with February 1, 2024. We advise candidates to seek assistance from experienced department and sponsored-research staff in preparing the budget submission.


Interested applicants should notify the Office of Limited Submissions by uploading the following documents in sequence in one PDF file (filename: [last name]_newdirections_2023) through the InfoReady Portal no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

  • Cover Page to include:
  • Including nominee name and departmental affiliation
  • Estimated budget ask (detailed budget not required for internal applicants)
  • Project summary — (300 word max.)
  • Proposal – (2000 word Max [13,000 characters, with spaces]) providing a summary of the project and an explanation of the overall significance of the research being undertaken and how the proposed new direction will assist in the development of the field.
  • letter of recommendation 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.
  • concise curriculum vitae, no more than five pages in length.

Format Guidelines:

  • Font/size: Times New Roman (12 pt.)
  • Document margins: 1.0” (top, bottom, left and right)
  • Standard paper size (8 ½” x 11)


In this particular program, the second field of study must be a foray into a new subject and not just an enhancement of skills to go further in the primary field, such as learning a language that would enhance the primary field of study. 

Mellon has awarded 253 New Directions Fellowships since 2002 (list of awardees). The last and only recipient from Penn State was in 2007. 

The Office Foundation Relations is available to consult on proposal narrative elements and answer other foundation-related questions. Please contact Kate Totino, Associate Director of Foundation Relations at University Park ( for additional support.