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Cluster Initiative


The deadline for the initial call for proposals was March 28, 2014. We anticipate one call for proposals each year until funding is exhausted.


As a preeminent institution of higher education, Dartmouth must advance research and teaching to expand the frontiers of knowledge and address the world's most pressing problems. Solutions, breakthroughs, and advances often arise from collaborative efforts that transcend the traditional boundaries of academic disciplines. The cluster initiative, through faculty collaboration and targeted hiring, will provide the critical mass and spectrum of expertise necessary to shape and advance the understanding of complex problems, emerging issues, and future societal challenges.

The initiative will establish cohorts of scholars focused on new intellectual themes or questions that cut across disciplines, departments, and schools. Cluster themes will provide the basis for new courses and curricula as well as new research opportunities. Clusters will draw on existing strengths and emerging areas of discovery to establish points of distinction, invigorating intellectual engagement and enhancing Dartmouth's impact in the world.


  • Develop a critical mass of faculty in areas of inquiry not addressed through traditional department or school structures
  • Facilitate new research opportunities and collaborative mechanisms
  • Create new curricular offerings and pedagogical approaches that cut across disciplines
  • Assist in fulfilling other institutional goals (e.g., campus diversity)

Call for Proposals

The initiative will support up to ten clusters over time, with the first three to be launched before the end of academic year 2014. Clusters will focus on a theme or question that transcends the boundaries of traditional disciplines and schools and will build on either existing or emerging areas of scholarly strength. A cluster will comprise a group of faculty from at least two disciplines or schools, with the opportunity for adding new faculty lines to bring critical expertise that doesn't currently exist in the faculty. Proposals for clusters will describe the central theme or question, the existing faculty expertise, the opportunity for one to three new hires, the potential impact of the cluster, and the distinction the cluster will bring to Dartmouth.

We anticipate one call for proposals each year until funding is exhausted. For this first call, in addition to new proposals, we will consider proposals already received through prior, less centralized processes. Faculty members who have already submitted proposals will have the opportunity to revise them to meet the needs of this call.

Selection Process

The Provost and the academic Deans will review all proposals and will make recommendations about which clusters to fund. Competitive proposals will:

  • Draw on existing research strengths at Dartmouth by defining a new interdisciplinary collaborative network or enhancing an existing one (priority given to cross-department and cross-school collaborations);
  • Have high likelihood of making a major impact in the understanding of complex questions;
  • Present an opportunity for Dartmouth to establish a point of distinction;
  • Anticipate new areas of research emerging in the academy;
  • Demonstrate potential for extramural support and external partnerships; and
  • Establish the basis for new courses and curricula.

The Provost and Deans will review the recommendations with the President and make the final decision on funding.

Proposal Requirements

All proposals should include the following sections:

Cluster description: (up to 4 pages)

Proposals should include a description of the central theme of the cluster, the importance of the theme, the questions to be addressed, and the impact the cluster will have on advancing knowledge and understanding. The description should discuss existing faculty strength around which the cluster will be formed, how academic questions will be addressed, the opportunity to add value through new faculty hiring, and the distinction the cluster will bring to Dartmouth. The likely impact of the proposed hires on undergraduate and graduate education should also be discussed.

New position descriptions: (up to 1 page per position)

Up to three new positions may be requested for each cluster. New positions will be hired into departments, or the appropriate equivalent in the professional schools. This section should focus on how the positions requested are synergistic with existing faculty expertise in the cluster and how the new faculty will enhance its impact. Consideration should be given to both teaching and research.   A brief summary of possible courses each new position might teach is encouraged.

Mentorship plans: (0.5 page per position)

For proposals to hire untenured faculty, plans for mentoring within the hiring department and through the cluster are required.   Specific information such as which senior faculty will be involved, which journals would be appropriate for publication in the interdisciplinary field, expectations for pre-tenure review, etc., should be included. For tenured faculty positions, this section should include information about the role the faculty member will play in mentoring junior faculty members who are part of the proposed cluster and/or other faculty members.


A. Programmatic Funds: (1 page)

Up to $100,000 per year may be requested to support the cluster. Expenses may include materials, supplies, workshops, visitors, student fellowships (e.g. graduate student stipends), and post-doctoral fellowships. A brief justification should be provided for each expense. Expenses may not include faculty salary, course relief, or administrative support.

B. Salary and Benefit: (1 page per faculty position)

For each proposed new faculty line within the cluster, an estimate of compensation and benefits should be given. Additional costs, such as startup packages, teaching support, space, and potential renovation costs should also be estimated.

*** We strongly recommend that faculty work with appropriate academic dean(s) as proposals are developed. ***

Submission and Review Process

The Cluster Initiative is managed through the Provost Office.

For this first call, the deadline for submission is March 28, 2014. Proposals should be submitted as a single PDF to Kristen Rhodes ( Questions about proposal preparation and submission may also be directed to Kristen.

Last Updated: 4/15/14