Following the national unrest sparked by events in Ferguson, Missouri, in spring 2015 Washington University created a seed fund to facilitate faculty research and teaching that investigated the urban core in the United States and globally.

The Ferguson Academic Seed Fund (FASF) provided small grants to Washington University faculty members to start new research initiatives, develop class content and modules, host discussion sessions, invite external scholars for residencies, and offer other intellectually engaging activities that helped tackle the complex set of issues underscored by events in Ferguson. Drawing on the extraordinary breadth and depth of our faculty’s interests and expertise, FASF encouraged work on the built environment, segregation and other spatial practices; health, educational and economic disparities; how race and other identity categories such as gender and class are operative; policing and other legal issues; and economic development. The FASF encouraged a wide range of deliverables that reflected the disciplinary range and expertise of Washington University faculty, including papers; book chapters; revised or new syllabi; recordings; installations or exhibits; or documentation of conferences, symposia, or residencies.

“The goal is not only to motivate current work being done, but also to engage colleagues who are interested in pursuing these issues for perhaps the first time.”

Chancellor Mark Wrighton

Operating over three cycles, spring 2015, fall 2015 and spring 2016, the Ferguson Academic Seed Fund awarded grants in three major areas:

  • Curriculum Development grants supported efforts to enhance the university’s academic curricular offerings, including developing content for new or existing courses, creating text book chapters of instructional materials to assist with the pedagogical mission of the university in targeted areas, etc.
  • Research grants supported scholarship that investigated the root causes of issues in urban America and globally; that recommended solutions; and that considered meaning and issues of representation and documentation.
  • Academic Residencies grants supported residencies by visiting scholars interested in these issues.

The Ferguson Academic Seed Fund was joined by several university partners. The Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, the Institute for Public Health, Olin Business School, and the University Libraries each provided matching funds to awardees that supported community-engaged curriculum development, addressed a problem related to some aspect of public health, addressed a problem related to business or economic development, or meaningfully incorporated the university libraries.

The Fund, in conjunction with The Graduate School, the vice chancellor for students, and University College, also supported research internships for Washington University undergraduate, graduate and professional, and University College students.

See grant awardees and student interns.

Selection Process

The chancellor and provost established the Ferguson Academic Seed Fund under the oversight of a steering committee. All Washington University faculty members, including adjunct faculty, were invited to submit proposals. To increase impact, faculty members were encouraged to consider partnerships with other institutions or organizations in the region — e.g., museums, higher education institutions, high schools or community service organizations. Projects that included another higher education institution received additional funding. Funding for selected projects was one-time only. Awards ranged in size to a maximum of $7,500, plus matching funds from university partners — The Gephardt Institute, the Institute for Public Health, Olin Business School and the University Libraries.

See full Ferguson Academic Seed Fund Grants terms (PDF).

Visit the Source to read about the Ferguson Academic Seed Fund Grants: