McDonnell Academy International Symposium

McDonnell Academy International Symposium
October 8-10, 2020

The world is experiencing dramatic changes in many ways, including social, environmental, political, and technological forces. Research universities play a critical role in helping to understand and shape these forces. Given their scope and impact, collaborative work involving faculty across countries is key, as is the work of faculty from many different disciplines. It is in this spirit that we announce the next McDonnell Academy International Symposium, which will take place on Washington University’s campus in St. Louis on October 8-10, 2020.

The format of this symposium will differ slightly from previous ones. The core of the symposium on October 9th and 10th will consist of faculty-driven workshops, intended to advance collaborative research. To make the workshops most productive, faculty have the discretion to design each workshop in a way that fits their specific aims. While we expect that faculty from McDonnell Academy partner institutions will be a key part, the workshops can include scholars from other institutions. In addition to the focused workshops, the McDonnell Academy will organize several plenary sessions to consider the broader topics from a cross-disciplinary perspective. We anticipate these sessions will include participants from the workshops.

As part of the support from the McDonnell Academy, to help incubate collaborative, cross-disciplinary projects, funding for travel and seed grants will be available to support faculty research arising from the symposium. We invite faculty members from any discipline to submit proposals for future or existing collaborative research projects with an international dimension that address the thematic areas outlined below.

Overarching Theme

The overarching theme for the symposium is “Forces Reshaping the World.” This theme is intended to provide aconcept to stimulate conversations amongst faculty across disciplines and workshops. Below are a few examples to illustrate the concept and are not intended to limit the scope. We emphasize that we welcome proposals from any area.

• The power of big data and emerging technologies: How are big data and new technologies changing the world for good? How are they transforming agriculture, business, manufacturing, health and medicine, politics, etc.?
• Climate change, sustainability and the vanishing world of species: How can we accelerate action on climate change and prevent biodiversity loss? How do we address the impacts of climate change on food, water, and population health?
• Social and ethical implications: How should human beings, communities and institutions prepare to cope with these global transformations? How do we address challenging ethical dilemmas posed by new technologies and issues around data privacy and security? What are the implications for social equity?
• Expanding creative potential: What roles do art, architecture, and literature play in shaping these forces?

Two types of small grants will be available to support faculty research:

• Travel grants: Proposals may request up to $3,500 to help offset travel costs for research collaborators from partner institutions of the McDonnell Academy to attend the symposium. If you are seeking a travel grant, please include in your proposal why this is important. We will award as many as our funding allows.
• Seed grants: Grants of up to $15,000 each will be awarded to the 3-5 most promising collaborative research projects arising as a result of the symposium. The funding will be allocated to help incubate new research collaborations across disciplines, countries and partner institutions.

Process & Deadlines
• November 1, 2019: Deadline to submit a 1 to 2-page proposal including the project’s title, abstract, and a list of potential or existing collaborators from WashU and other institutions, including their affiliation. If requesting a travel grant, your proposal should specify how that funding will be used. All proposals must be submitted by email to by 5:00 p.m. (CST) on Friday, November 1st.
• November 1, 2020: After the symposium, submit a 2-page updated proposal outlining next steps to develop the project and specifying how seed funding will be used, if awarded.
• Travel grants will be awarded by December 1, 2019. Seed grants will be awarded by December 1, 2020.

Eligibility & Assessment Criteria
• All faculty in any academic discipline at Washington University are eligible to apply. Faculty members from partner institutions are also welcome to apply, as long as the proposal includes at least one faculty collaborator at WashU.

• Projects must be conducted at one of the symposium’s workshops on October 9-10, 2020.

• Workshop sessions are approximately 6 hours/day. Organizers can determine how to organize their sessions for that time.

• Projects will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

1. Promise of the workshop to advance existing collaborative research or to start new research.
2. Collaborative approach. Projects must include an international collaborator, with preference given to engaging researchers from partner institutions of the McDonnell Academy.
3. Overall quality and significance of research.
4. Relevance or application to the symposium’s theme.

About the McDonnell Academy
Since its founding in 2005, the McDonnell International Scholars Academy has forged partnerships with 34 premier research universities around the world. The Academy has a dual mission. First, we recruit top scholars from partner universities and mentor them as they pursue graduate and professional degrees at Washington University, preparing them to become future global leaders. Second, we leverage the Academy’s international partnership network to incubate new ideas and foster collaborative research across countries and disciplines.

All questions about the symposium and this Call for Proposals can be directed to Laura Benoist, Associate Director of
the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, at