Engaged Research Grant

  • Doctoral Students
  • Doctorates in Anthropology
  • Doctorates in Related Fields
  • Independent Scholars


This program supports longstanding research partnerships that empower those who have historically been the subjects of anthropological research, rather than researchers themselves. Designed in alliance with individuals who have borne the impact of marginalization, these partnerships bring together scholars and their interlocutors in an effort to expand anthropological knowledge, combat inequality, and help communities flourish. The program supports projects that will make a significant contribution to anthropological conversations through collaboration and engagement.

Anthropological research involves forging ethical relationships. Researchers must acknowledge the contributions of interlocutors and compensate them appropriately for their labor and time. Projects funded by Engaged Research Grants go even further. Not only are interlocutors participants in the research, but they have an active role in determining the problems explored. This grant program targets projects, growing out of a scholar’s established relationship with a community, that show greater potential when undertaken as a partnership, beginning with the formulation of research questions and extending to data gathering, skill sharing, scholarly communication, and public mobilization. Engaged research occurs in a broad range of settings, including communities, courtrooms, government offices, and laboratories. It results in findings that are meaningful and potentially transformative for research participants and others with a stake in the collaboration. Through this program, the Foundation seeks to demonstrate how engagement can foster innovation and further anthropological knowledge.

This program is open to applicants with PhDs in anthropology and related fields. We also welcome applications from students enrolled in a doctoral program (or equivalent, if applying from outside the U.S.) at the time of application. There is no preference for any methodology or subfield. Individuals of all nationalities are eligible to apply.

Award Money

The maximum Engaged Research Grant is $25,000. Grants are nonrenewable. There is no limit to the duration of the grant, and applicants may request funding to cover distinct research phases (for example, two summers) if this is part of the research design. Wenner-Gren awards do not include funds to cover institutional overhead or any fees related to the administration of our grants and fellowships.

Application Deadline

The application deadline is August 1 for projects beginning no earlier than April 1 of the following year. The application portal opens 2 months before the deadline. It takes us 6 months to complete the review process and arrive at a final decision.

Who Can Apply

Doctoral Students, Doctorates in Anthropology, Doctorates in Related Fields, Independent Scholars

This program is open to applicant teams without regard to nationality or institutional or departmental affiliation. In addition to scholars at varying levels of training in anthropology and related disciplines (including faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, and doctoral students), applicant teams must include individuals with lived experiences in the places where research is underway. The team member serving as the applicant of record must have a doctorate or currently be enrolled in a doctoral degree program in anthropology or a related field.

In some cases, the academic partner who is the applicant of record will be from the community where they plan to work.  In other cases, they will be allies who have earned the community’s trust by working on its behalf as activists or organizers.  All applicants must submit evidence of commitment from the community, such as a letter of support from community leaders, minutes from a community meeting, a research permit, and/or other appropriate indications of support. This evidence must be consistent with community processes, policies, and protocols. It should include detailed information on what the stakeholders have agreed to do in support of the project.

Applicants may not apply for a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant or Post-PhD Research Grant in the same calendar year as an Engaged Research Grant.

Most grantees must fulfill all the requirements of their existing award and submit their final report before applying for a new award. But if you have a Conference and Workshop Grant, a Global Initiatives Grant, or a Historical Archives Program grant, you are welcome to apply; if so, please contact us for more information.

The Foundation accepts resubmissions of Engaged Research Grant applications that were unsuccessful in prior funding cycles. Applicants wishing to apply again must include a resubmission statement that addresses the reviewers’ comments and explains how their application has changed.

Our reviewers evaluate the quality of the research partnership and its potential to make a significant contribution to anthropological knowledge that will combat inequality and help communities flourish. There are no restrictions on geographic areas, themes, or topics. The reviewers look for:

  • A collaboratively defined research question and conceptual framework, a detailed description of the evidence needed for the investigation, and a feasible plan for gathering and analyzing this evidence
  • A strong and well-established partnership between the academics and non-academic members of the team.
  • Evidence of engagement in the research design, including a collaborative approach to the formulation of the research question and extending to plans for data gathering, skill sharing, scholarly communication, and public mobilization
  • A convincing discussion of the potential to produce findings that are meaningful and potentially transformative for research participants and others with a stake in the collaboration
  • A compelling account of the project’s potential to serve as a model that demonstrates how engagement can foster innovation and further anthropological thought.

Projects undertaken by or in alliance with individuals who have borne the impact of various forms of marginalization will be prioritized. Proposals will not be competitive if they lack strong evidence of commitment from the stakeholders involved in the collaboration.  The Post-PhD Research Grant is a better option for applicants planning to work with interdisciplinary or international teams of researchers.  To be competitive for an Engaged Research Grant, the partnership must include community representatives among its core members.

Our evaluation process is guided by the principles articulated in our mission, including a commitment to fostering an inclusive vision of anthropology. We expect applicants to draw inspiration from a broad range of scholarship, including relevant work in English and other languages. Please refer to “Motion of the 32nd RBA: Diversify Information and Education about the Global Anthropologies of Foreign Researchers and Anthropology Students.”

To present your project in the best possible light, please follow all instructions for completing your application. If you have questions, contact us at applications@wennergren.org or (+1) 212.683.5000.

Applications must be in English. Applicants must submit all forms and other required application materials online. If this is not possible for you because of inadequate internet access, please contact the Foundation at least 1 week before the deadline so we can arrange an alternative method. The online portal opens for applications 2 months before the application deadline.

The application asks for the following:

General information about you, your partners, your academic mentor (if applicable), and the project

An abstract of your proposed research project, written for a lay audience; if your application is successful, this abstract will appear on the Foundation’s website

Answers to six project description questions, directly addressing the issues these questions raise; use all of the space provided

A resubmission statement if we declined an Engaged Research Grant application you submitted previously

A detailed budget

A curriculum vitae for the applicant and any academic collaborators

A letter or other documentary evidence of commitment from the stakeholders involved in your partnership; if this evidence is in a language other than English, please include both the original and an English translation

A bibliography listing any works cited in your application.

The application also asks you to list the permits and permissions required for the proposed project, with the estimated dates by which you expect to secure them. However, please do not submit these documents with your application. If your application is successful, we will request copies of all relevant materials when we notify you of your award.

Before submitting your application, please refer to the U.S. tax information on our website. Non-U.S. applicants should read the information on visa requirements for non-U.S. citizens present or coming to the U.S. as part of their project.

The Foundation requires successful applicants to comply with all U.S. laws. These include but are not limited to regulations governed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which administers U.S. government sanctions programs and regulations relating to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List). Please see the OFAC Guidelines page on our website and consult the U.S. Department of the Treasury for more information.

In compliance with OFAC regulations, the Foundation requires special documentation for projects located in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Crimea (including Sevastopol), the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic regions of Ukraine, and Russia. The Foundation does not require this documentation at the application stage, but we must receive it before we can release funds.

Please do not send any other materials beyond what is requested in the application. Do not send transcripts, letters of reference, manuscripts, publications, photographs, or recordings. We will not use this material in the review process, and it cannot be returned.

You may access the application portal here.