The CSAD Democracy Scholars Program provides opportunities for students to work in close collaboration with faculty members as full participants on some fundamental question, text, or theme of American liberal democracy. Students selected for these competitive awards will receive a $4,000 stipend, summer housing, and up to $500 in funds for research materials and supplies when necessary. A primary component of the program is the public presentation of the summer scholar's work at the conclusion of the research project.

The Democracy Scholars Program is supported by the Class of 1978 Summer Research Fund and the Pamela K. Jensen Faculty Research Fund endowments for the Center for the Study of American Democracy. Selections for these competitive awards are made by a committee of faculty members as part of the Summer Scholars program with input from the Center for the Study of American Democracy.

Dates & Deadlines

The next proposal due date is February 12, 2024, at midnight. 


The student member of a student/faculty research team is responsible for writing and submitting the proposal (see below) in consultation with the faculty member. The team conducts their research over an 8 to 10 week period in the summer, at the end of which the student member of the team submits a concise and accessible abstract of approximately 200 words describing the project and results. 

Students present their results at the research poster session during Family Weekend in October.

The CSAD Democracy Scholars Program supports student-faculty research teams in the humanities and social sciences addressing fundamental questions, texts, or themes of American liberal democracy. Students are eligible to apply for the summer after their first, sophomore, or junior year, and will generally be pursuing study in a relevant field. Students may apply for more than one summer, but among fundable proposals, priority will be given to students who have not had prior support, even for a different project. Faculty will generally have an appointment in a department or interdisciplinary program relevant to the study of American democracy. Both tenure track and continuing non-tenure track faculty may serve as mentors in the Democracy Scholars program.

A complete proposal consists of:

The Summer Research Application

Project Description and Budget: clear, concise description of the goals and methodology of the proposed project, understandable to individuals outside the discipline (limit 2000 words), as well as a budget detailing expenses limited to materials, equipment, and travel directly related to the research project — uploaded pdf as part of the application.

Faculty Mentor Form: This form allows the faculty mentor to describe how the proposed projects supports/advances their scholarly interests, to provide a clear plan for mentorship and collaboration, and describes the readiness of the student to take on the proposed research. The mentor also indicates whether grant funds may be available to support the student stipend and expenses beyond the $500 research budget.

The student member of the research team is responsible for completing the Summer Research Application. The student and faculty mentor should collaborate in composing the project description and budget. The faculty mentor completes the Mentor Form and submits it directly.

Awards will be announced in late February. Notification will be by email, copying the faculty mentor. Students may not accept this award if they are participating in another summer research program or if they have on-campus summer employment, and if they accept the award, they are expected to commit to the DS program and remove themselves from consideration in other programs.

CSAD Democracy Scholar proposals will be selected based on the following criteria:

The potential for the project to engage the student in authentic and compelling scholarly or creative work, with a clear plan for faculty mentorship and collaboration.

The potential for the project to support or advance the scholarly interests of the faculty mentor related to American democracy.

Considerations of disciplinary, mentor and student diversity, equity and inclusion.

The current fellowship award is $4,000 per student plus provision of on-campus housing. Students not requiring on-campus housing are not eligible for additional remuneration.

A budget of $500 is provided to purchase materials, equipment, or travel that directly supports the research project. Any durable materials, supplies, and equipment will become the property of the College and remain with the department after the summer. All expenses must be approved by the faculty mentor and submitted with original invoice or receipt to the administrative assistant for the faculty mentor’s department no later than the last day of October following the summer project. Additional funding for conference travel may be requested through a provost’s Student Research Grant.

Students who complete all requirements as stated above and who are endorsed by their faculty mentors will receive audit credit on their transcripts for this summer research experience. Students who will be abroad at the time of the poster session may prepare a poster in advance for display at the session, or they may present their poster in the summer science poster session the following year to complete the requirements for audit credit. If neither of these options is feasible, other arrangements may be made with the approval of the associate provost and the student’s research mentor.

Students awarded a summer research scholarship whose research involves the use of human subjects, must apply to the Kenyon College Institutional Review Board (IRB) for review of their research protocol. Information about the IRB application may be found on the IRB web page. IRB applications should be submitted well in advance of the start dates of your program and research.