Frequently Asked Questions about the IRW Seminar

General Questions About the Seminar

When does the seminar meet?

The IRW seminar meets every week of Fall and Spring semesters on Thursday mornings from 10:30 to noon. Faculty and Seminar Fellows must arrange their teaching and other departmental commitments accordingly. We strongly encourage seminar members to structure their schedules so that they can remain at the IRW to continue the seminar conversation over lunch from noon to 1:00 p.m.

Who participates in the seminar?

Rutgers faculty and graduate students are selected through a competitive process to join the seminar. IRW visiting scholars are also invited to participate and provide work-in-progress for discussion. Other Rutgers faculty and postdoctoral fellows are sometimes supported as seminar participants by their departments or deans in conjunction with IRW. Interested members of the Rutgers community may attend occasional seminar sessions with advance notice and permission from the seminar's conveners.

How are seminar meetings structured?

The seminar often begins with a couple of weeks of outside readings selected by the seminar conveners to stimulate to cross-disciplinary considerations of the multifaceted seminar theme. For the balance of the year, each seminar member in turn provides the IRW with a draft 25-to-30-page article or chapter for distribution to seminar members a week in advance of the discussion. Each author also provides a one-page letter outlining the larger project and guiding feedback by indicating problem areas, specific questions, and/or requesting methodological or bibliographic feedback from colleagues with different disciplinary backgrounds. On the scheduled day, the author makes a few introductory remarks, followed by an initial 10-15 minute response by a seminar member who has prepared remarks in advance. The balance of the seminar meeting is devoted to questions and suggestions from participants, clarifications from the author, and general discussion of the project’s research methods, findings and implications.

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Questions About Applying to the Seminar

 I’m interested in the seminar, but I’m not sure that my research project fits the theme; what should I do?

Contact the IRW with a brief description of the work you propose to share with the seminar; we’re available to consult with prospect applicants and explore ways to situate a proposal within the parameters of the seminar call. The seminar is designed to be broadly inclusive of a range of projects and approaches; we welcome projects that address the seminar theme in unanticipated ways.

What do you mean by “advanced graduate students”?

Successful graduate student applicants are generally doctoral candidates (students in Ph.D. programs who have passed their qualifying exams and are writing their dissertations). Graduate student applicants should be pursuing a project for publication or other professional public audience that demonstrates both breadth and depth and that engages with the seminar themes.
I’ve been in the seminar before. May I reapply?

We accept applications from people who have participated in the seminar previously, but ask that they include in their proposals a description of how that experience influenced their own research and teaching and how they propose to help build constructive dialogue with colleagues whose disciplinary approaches, methodologies, and topics will address the seminar theme from a variety of different perspectives.

How competitive is the seminar application process?

Each year is different, but we always receive more excellent applications than we can accept since we have a very limited amount of funds with which to support the seminar. In addition, in order to maintain the multi-disciplinary, multi-campus characteristics of the seminar, we have been forced to turn down very strong proposals from some of our colleagues who are long-time IRW affiliates.

 I'm a graduate student at Rutgers.  Do I need to attach letters of recommendation from faculty members?

No; just follow the directions on the application form.

My department has just hired a new faculty member whose work is relevant to the seminar and who would benefit from participating in a regularly scheduled discussion of research with an multi-disciplinary group of colleagues, but she/he wasn’t able to participate in the formal seminar selection process. What can we do?

Please email the IRW with additional information about your new colleague (c.v. and description of seminar-related research-in-progress, if available). We will be happy to explore possibilities with you.

 I’m not able to attend regularly, but I’d like to present my work at the seminar. Is that possible?

No; all of the seminar meetings are scheduled with discussions of either published articles on the seminar topic from a variety of disciplinary perspectives or work-in-progress written by seminar members. You are welcome to check the schedule of seminar discussions (generally available by mid-October) and attend discussions of any papers that might be relevant to your scholarly concerns.

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Questions about Seminar Funding or Special Arrangements

I’m already scheduled to be on leave one semester next year, but the seminar theme matches my work perfectly. May I participate during the semester I’m on campus and get a course release or half the annual stipend?

No; our intent is to create a yearlong conversation between faculty and graduate students from a variety of disciplinary locations who would not normally have the opportunity to benefit from regular interactions over an academic year. Those interactions develop and become even more meaningful during the second semester of participation so it is important that the core seminar members participate for the entire academic year.

I’ll be returning from a funded research leave in October; can I apply to the seminar?

This is generally not possible for the reasons outlined above; you may contact the IRW if you wish to have further conversation about your schedule and the seminar design.

I’m not a Rutgers professor/graduate student, but I’m at another institution of higher education. May I apply to the seminar?

Yes, but only as an IRW Visiting Scholar. Visiting Scholars do not receive stipends, but may enjoy the use of private offices at the IRW as well as participation in the IRW seminar. We can only provide teaching release or research funds to Rutgers faculty members and graduate students.  Please consult the description of the Global Scholar Program on our webpage and contact us if you'd like more information.

 May I “bank” my course release and use it during the following academic year?

No; our seminar funds are for the current fiscal year and must be expended in full during the academic year. We are unable to make any carryover arrangements with individuals or departments. Any alternate arrangements must be made between seminar faculty members and their departments.

I don’t need a course release (or, my department doesn’t allow course releases); can I get an award of research funds instead?

Yes; a set total for the academic year may be transferred in installments to your research account or to another state budget account designated by your department in support of your research. Your home department will be responsible for administering these funds. We will make these arrangements after the seminar selection process is complete.

How is the award of research funds handled? I’d rather get extra pay than a research award.

The IRW can transfer funds from our state account to a faculty research account or other state budget account in support of faculty seminar fellow research; we are not able to allocate salary or extra pay except in support of graduate student seminar fellows and course releases for faculty fellows.

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