Professional Development Proseminar: Funding (Fall 2021)

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Professional Development Seminar: Funding (COM 594 A)
Instructor: Benjamin Mako Hill / (or many other ways to contact me)
Office Hours: By appointment (I'm usually available via chat during "business hours.") You can view out my calendar and/or put yourself on it. If you schedule a meeting, we'll meet in the Jitsi room (makooffice) you'll get a link to through the scheduling app.
Meeting Times: Tuesdays 4:30-6:20pm
Important Links:

Course Overview[edit]

General description of series[edit]

COM 594 is a series of five professional seminars designed to help students develop a range of professional competencies. Communication Ph.D. students are required to take three of these courses as part of their programs of study, and M.A. students are welcome to enroll. In these proseminars, faculty and other guests share their experiences as teachers, researchers, and public intellectuals. As a faculty, we view this series as an important, thought-provoking, and fun part of your graduate education, and we are excited to incorporate these seminars into our program.

Specific course description[edit]

This proseminar on research funding introduces students to the resources available to help scholars fund their research, both at the graduate level and beyond. Specifically, the course is designed to orient you to the identification of funding sources, introduce you to the grant-writing process, and provide you with an opportunity to begin obtaining funding for your own work. Because participants in this course are at various stages in their academic career and have a wide range of research interests, it is virtually impossible to speak to specific funding sources or requirements. Rather, we will discuss commonalities that transcend research interests. Also given the lack of common research-based focuses, your work for this class will be geared toward individualized course goals that you will negotiate with the instructor over the first week or so of the quarter.

Learning goals[edit]

I will consider this course a complete success if, at the end of the course, all students in the course:

  • Feel comfortable looking for funding, evaluating whether a particular funding opportunity is a good match for their own research, and can point to several concrete potential sources of funding for their work, both at UW and from outside.
  • Can effectively argue the case for funding for their research, both verbally and in writing, in ways that are effectively tailored to the potential funder, call, or source.

Course Design & Resources[edit]

I'm designing this class as a "workshop based class" built around the research funding proposals that everybody will be developing as part of the course. There will be readings and weekly assignments but these are almost exclusively in the service of helping everyone carry out their own proposals. Each week we will spend a good chunk of the class checking in everyone's projects.

As a result, there will be no textbook for this course and the readings will be short and easier to read. Most of the readings will be drawn from two sources:

Note About This Syllabus[edit]

You should expect this syllabus to be a dynamic document. Although the core expectations for this class are fixed, the details of readings and assignments will shift based on how the class goes, guest speakers that I arrange, my own readings in this area, etc. As a result, there are three important things to keep in mind:

  • Although details on this syllabus will change, I will try to ensure that I never change readings more than six days before they are due. I will send an announcement no later than before each Wednesday evening that fixes the schedule for the next week. This means that if I don't fill in a reading marked "[To Be Decided]" six days before it's due, it is dropped. If we don't change something marked "[Tentative]" before the deadline, then it is assigned. This means that if you plan to read more than six days ahead, contact the teaching team first.
  • Because this syllabus a wiki, you will be able to track every change by clicking the history button on this page when I make changes. I will summarize these changes in the weekly an announcement on Canvas sent that will be emailed to everybody in the class. Closely monitor your email or the announcements section on the course website on Canvas to make sure you don't miss these!
  • I really value feedback — especially in the first few weeks. Please let me know what is working and what can be improved. In the past, I have made many adjustments to courses that I teach while the quarter progressed based on feedback.


This has basically two classes of assignments:

  1. Completion of a written draft for a requests for funding to an external funding source (i.e., outside of the University of Washington). If it makes much more sense to apply for funding internally given your career interests, I'm willing to negotiate a modified version of the assignment that might involve more than one internal grant application.
  2. Engagement with the course content via weekly responses and in-class seminar discussion.

The request for funding project will be broken down into a series of milestones. These involve an initial plan due on the second week of the quarter that explores at least two options, weekly updates that you will provide during class over the course of the quarter, a final presentation of your work at the end of the quarter, and written material that you can incorporate into your final project.

In terms of engagement, the course relies heavily on discussion and in-person participation. It is important to realize that we will not summarize reading in class and I will not cover it in lecture. I expect you all to have read it and we will jump in and start discussing it. The "Participation Rubric" section of my detailed page on assessment gives the rubric I will use in evaluating engagement.


I have put together a very detailed page that describes the way I approach assessment and grading—both in general and in this course. Please read it carefully I will assign grades for each of following items on the UW 4.0 grade scale according to the weights below:

  • An initial written plan for your funding proposals: 10%
  • Weekly updates on funding proposals: 10%
  • Final presentation describing funding proposals: 10%
  • Final written funding proposal: 40%
  • Weekly participation demonstrating mastery of reading: 30%


This is a one-credit course which typically maps to about 10 hours of classroom time. Because we are booked into a two-hour slot, we have some flexibility in terms of how we organize things this quarter. My proposal is to use the first seven weeks of the quarter (skipping one week to focus on projects) and then end on November 23 before the Thanksgiving break.

Session 1: October 5[edit]

Topic: Course Overview/Expectations

Readings: (finish before class)

  • Braithwaite, Dawn O., and Patrice Buzzanell. 2008. “Understanding and Applying for Grants and Funding for Communication Studies.” In Getting the Most from Your Graduate Education in Communication a Student’s Handbook: A Student’s Handbook, edited by Sherwyn Morreale and Pat Arneson, 145–58. Washington, DC: National Communication Association. [Available free online]

Assignment: (finish before class)

Find the curriculum vitæ of at least 6 senior and/or highly respected scholars who are doing working your area and collect information about if and where they have received funding over their entire career. Ideally, these will be people whose work you have cited and read as well as people who have had generally successful careers. Your advisor might be one of them I want you to look further afield as well.

  • I want you to look at least 3 people who are communication scholars doing work in your discipline (i.e., rhetoricians, interpersonal communication scholars, and so on).
  • I want you to look at least 3 people who are studying the phenomena you are interested but who are in other disciplines or fields. For example, if you are studying social support you might look at related work in psychology, public health, or computer science. If you are interested in racial inequality you might look at demographic, sociology, political science, or public health. If you can, choose individuals from fields who typically relies on grant funding.

Six is the absolute minimum and I strongly encourage you all to do this for twice as many if you can. This assignment shouldn't take very long. If you can, please do more.

Class Plan:

  • Introductions to each other
  • Brief lecture introducing to the course + Q&A
  • Discussion of synchronous communication options
  • Share-outs & feedback from assignments
  • Walk through and discussion for next week's assignments

Session 2: October 12[edit]

Topic: Identifying Funding Sources


  1. Collaboratively build and organize a list of funding resources: [Finish before class.]
  2. Identify your research-funding plans for the quarter. [Turn in via Canvas dropbox EOD the day before class.]

1. There are ton of resources out there for potential funding. As you sort through these, lets take notes collaboratively on the shared "Etherpad" above. Other than what you've learned by looking at others CVs, these are likely useful places to start:

2. In terms of the plan, I want outlook two potential funding “goals” from two potential sources. These should span include at least one internal source (department or university) and one external source (grant or fellowship). For each goal articulated, be sure to: (1) explain why and how your research falls within the purview of the funding source; and (2) identify the challenges you anticipate in applying for funding.


Class plan:

  • Questions from the readings
  • Presentations of funding plans
  • Short lecture/discussion on developing fundable ideas
  • Review of next steps and plan for next week

Session 3: October 19[edit]

Topic: Developing ideas for funding research


  • Share a link to your 2-3 paragraph "pitch" for your external funding application on the course Slack before class
  • Be ready to give a 3-5 minutes update on your funding proposals in class


Class plan:

  • Questions from the readings
  • Presentations of funding plans
  • Revisit the short lecture/discussion on developing fundable ideas
  • Review of next steps and plan for next week

Session 4: October 26[edit]

Topic: Building Intellectual and Geographical Bridges


  • Identify the full set of deliverables for the grant application (e.g., budgets, documents, etc) and identify what you'll be working on for this course.
  • Share a link to your "two-pager" version of your document
  • Be ready to give a 3-5 minutes update on your funding proposals in class


Class plan:

  • Questions from the readings
  • Presentations of two-pagers
  • Short lecture/discussion on writing
  • Review of next steps and plan for next week

Session 5: November 2[edit]

Topic: Writing your proposal


  • Finishing negotiating deliverables for the class (this should be in writing but it can be in a private message with Mako on Slack)
  • Revise your 2-pager based on feedback from the class last week
  • Be ready to give a 3-5 minutes update on your funding proposals in class



Class plan:

  • Questions from the readings
  • Presentations of two pagers
  • Revisit the short lecture/discussion on developing fundable ideas
  • Review of next steps and plan for next week

No Meeting: November 9[edit]

Session 6: November 16[edit]

Topic: Practicing your pitch



  • Rehearse your "pitch" and be ready to give a 2-4 minutes pitch as you would to a program officer you met at an academic conference

Class plan:

  • The first part of the class will be devoted to trying out pitches in a sort of "speed dating" where everyone will get an opportunity to try out your pitch, respond to some questions, and get some feedback
  • The second part of class will be for discussion and reflection on grant followup

No Meeting: November 23[edit]

No meeting: November 30[edit]

No meeting: December 6[edit]

Final Project Due: December 17[edit]

Final project will be due in Canvas.

Administrative Notes[edit]

Teaching and learning with COVID-19[edit]

The COVID-19 pandemic will impact this course in various ways, some of them obvious and tangible and others harder to pin down. On the obvious and tangible front, we all be wearing masks. UW has made it very clear to all of us that if anyone of us feels sick, they cannot come to campus or class. This might translate into some hybrid course sessions at some point over the quarter. Since the room we'll be meeting in is not set up for hybrid learning, I might just move the whole course online. All of this will reshape our collective "classroom" experience in major ways.

On the "harder to pin down" side, many of us may experience elevated levels of exhaustion, stress, uncertainty and distraction. We may need to provide unexpected support to family, friends, or others in our communities. I have personally experienced all of these things at various times over the pandemic and I expect that some of you have too. It is a difficult time.

I believe it is important to acknowledge these realities of the situation and create the space to discuss and process them in the context of our class throughout the quarter. As your instructor and colleague, I commit to do my best to approach the course in an adaptive, generous, and empathetic way. I will try to be transparent and direct with you throughout—both with respect to the course material as well as the pandemic and the university's evolving response to it. I ask that you try to extend a similar attitude towards everyone in the course. When you have questions, feedback, or concerns, please try to share them in an appropriate way. If you require accommodations of any kind at any time (directly related to the pandemic or not), please contact the teaching team.

This text is borrowed and adapted from Aaron Shaw's statistics course.

Your Presence in Class[edit]

As detailed in my detailed page on assessment, your participation in discussion is an important way that I will assess learning. Obviously, you must be in class in order to participate. In the event of an absence, you are responsible for obtaining notes, handouts, assignments, etc. If you can't come to campus due to COVID-19 related issues please be in contact as soon as you can and we'll figure this out. Don't risk the health of yourself or your classmates.

Religious Accommodations[edit]

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.

Student Conduct[edit]

The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at Safety

Call SafeCampus at 206-685-7233 anytime–no matter where you work or study–to anonymously discuss safety and well-being concerns for yourself or others. SafeCampus’s team of caring professionals will provide individualized support, while discussing short- and long-term solutions and connecting you with additional resources when requested.

Academic Dishonesty[edit]

This includes: cheating on assignments, plagiarizing (misrepresenting work by another author as your own, paraphrasing or quoting sources without acknowledging the original author, or using information from the internet without proper citation), and submitting the same or similar paper to meet the requirements of more than one course without instructor approval. Academic dishonesty in any part of this course is grounds for failure and further disciplinary action. The first incident of plagiarism will result in the student’s receiving a zero on the plagiarized assignment. The second incident of plagiarism will result in the student’s receiving a zero in the class.

Disability Resources[edit]

If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to uw at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

Other Student Support[edit]

Any student who has difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live, and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is urged to contact the graduate program advisor for support. Furthermore, please notify the professors if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable us to provide any resources that we may possess (adapted from Sara Goldrick-Rab). Please also note the student food pantry, Any Hungry Husky at the ECC.