Proposing an annual theme for a research group at the Katz Center

Shaping the theme of a fellowship year at the Katz Center is an opportunity to have a major impact on scholarship, directing the center’s resources in support of more than twenty scholars each year, generating new conversations and collaborations that include conferences and a book, and helping to set an agenda for new research and thought. The center welcomes scholars to propose a theme and will consider all submissions it receives.

Proposing a theme for a seminar year is different from proposing a book project. The goal is not merely to identify a specific topic that needs investigation but to advocate for a theme, question, or issue that will draw scholars together from a variety of disciplines, from within and beyond the field of Jewish studies, and that will push research in directions that it has not gone before. Proposals should include a brief history of the relevant scholarship and/or a description of current research that helps reviewers understand the significance and potential impact of the fellowship year. It will be to the advantage of a proposal if it can connect its focus to questions, issues and approaches in other areas of humanistic and social scientific research.

Any individual or group of scholars in Jewish studies may submit a proposal, but an ideal proposal will come from a team of 2 or 3 scholars at different stages in their careers who represent divergent national perspectives and will encompass different disciplines or intellectual viewpoints.


The submission process involves two stages:

1)    Submit a preliminary proposal of not more than 1000 words that briefly makes the case for the theme and how it will advance Jewish studies or scholarship more broadly. The proposal should lay out the rationale for the theme, not simply explaining its importance but specifying the benefit of devoting a year of collaborative research to it. It should also indicate the kinds of scholars and fields it might involve.

  • Proposers should append their CVs to the proposal, which should be sent to the associate director, Natalie Dohrmann (; for question call her at 215-238-1290.

2)    After a review process, the center will be in in touch with selected proposers to invite them to develop their proposal in response to specific questions that the reviewers may have. The expanded proposal might include a more specific list of the questions that such a theme provokes, expand on the history of the relevant scholarship, map out a vision of how collaboration will unfold over the year, and address any other questions that the center may pose about the preliminary proposal. If approved, this version of the proposal will eventually be incorporated into the center’s call for applications.

A developed proposal should also include a list of scholars who might participate in the year as a long term or short term fellow in order to demonstrate how broad and how appealing the subject might be to a wide range of scholars. Those appearing on the list need not be approached in any formal way and will not have any advantage in the fellowship selection process. The list is only to provide some indication of potential interest on the part of scholars around the world.

The center may encourage the development of more than one proposal per year, and will make a final selection based on fully developed proposals developed in response to reviewers’ questions. In evaluating proposals, the center favors themes that are interdisciplinary, comparative, and attractive to large numbers of scholars, internationally, from both within Judaic studies and from adjacent disciplines. A good proposal will attract as many as 80–100 applicants from which 20 will be selected.

Having composed a successful proposal will be to the advantage of the authors should they chose to apply to become fellows themselves for that year (though the fellows selection process is separate from the theme selection process). Developed proposals not selected for a given year may be reconsidered for future years.

Before submitting a proposal, scholars are to consult with the director or associate director who can offer guidance and advice in developing the proposal. Once submitted, proposals will be carefully evaluated, and proposers can expect collaborative input from the center and affiliated scholars as part of the process of developing the proposal.

The proposal process is ongoing, there is no formal deadline. Please work out timing issues in conversation with Natalie Dohrmann ( Please note, however, that the center usually plans the seminar themes years well in advance, and a successful proposal may result in a research year scheduled anywhere from 3 to 5 years from the date of the original proposal.

Click on the links below to see some successful proposals from previous years: