Research Seminar Guidelines

To facilitate the thriving of diverse faculty/staff intellectual life and particularly the development of interdisciplinary conversations and projects, the Oakley Center sponsors research seminars each year that involve a semester- or year-long commitment to convene regularly (8-10 meetings total). These seminars can be imaginatively construed, but their goal is to help bring a broad and diverse array of faculty, staff, and/or community members into directed conversation around a particular theme, approach, topic, etc. Faculty and/or staff members who apply may engage with scholarship or creative work around a particular subject, and/or share works-in-progress. The number of participants is capped at one organizer plus up to five participants. The Center is open to hybrid proposals that combine discussion with the circulation of research papers by participants.

A seminar will include a supplementary budget of $500, and a preference that groups meet at the Oakley Center for their conversations. The seminar organizer is offered $500 for their work and each group participant is paid $400.

Application Guidelines

Seminar applicants should submit proposals to the Oakley Center via email ([email protected]) or to the Director and Associate Director directly via email.


The deadline for receipt of seminar applications for fall semester and year-long proposals is generally late September to early October; proposals for spring semester are generally due in early February, or can be submitted by the fall deadline. For fall 2023 proposals, the deadline is October 10; spring 2024 proposals are due February 16.


Research Seminar proposals should be 1-2 pages in length and should include the following:

  • description of the topic of the group including key questions motivating and shaping the seminar,
  • explanation of why the topic is of import, particularly interdisciplinary import, to the humanities and social sciences,
  • discussion of the means by which the group will investigate relevant theme(s),
  • tentative bibliography,
  • list some of the people who are most likely to attend,
  • budget for supplementary funds (up to $500) and an explanation of how they will be used.

Proposal Review

In addition to the Director and Associate Director, an anonymous tenured faculty member from each of Division I and Division II will review all seminar applications so as to provide applicants with helpful feedback such as additional interdisciplinary readings, approaches, and faculty/staff they might consider including. The Director will compile the reviews in as timely a manner as possible and contact applicants with final decisions and/or requests for clarification.


In some years, it may not be possible to support all applications. The Center places highest priority on Research Seminars that examine new methodologies or fields of study and which incorporate participants from a range of disciplines, areas of expertise, and backgrounds. Proposals largely focused on curricular or pedagogical questions in established departments/programs will be accorded lower priority when ranking proposals.  Beyond meeting fully its legal obligations for non-discrimination, the Oakley Center supports Williams College’s commitments to building a diverse, accessible, and inclusive community where members from all backgrounds can live, learn, and thrive. This aspiration is based on an understanding that diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility are central facets of educational excellence. We prioritize applications that align with Williams College’s commitments to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.

Requirements and Additional Information

  • Each seminar should be proposed and managed by one organizer and may include up to five other participants.
  • Organizers must be Williams College faculty or staff.
  • Seminar organizers are offered $500 for their work and each group participant who attends a minimum of half the group’s gatherings is paid $400.
  • The organizer may request a supplementary budget of up to $500 to advance the goals of the seminar--e.g., by bringing to campus a scholar with relevant expertise for a lecture or workshop.
    • Although such seminar-related events may be held at the Oakley Center on a space-available basis, organizers are expected to manage their own budget and handle logistics themselves.
    • If organizers would like to host a larger, open campus event for a speaker, then they should not include that event as part of their budget. Instead they should seek sponsorship from their academic units and a co-sponsorship from the Oakley Center.
    • Organizers may also propose to bring an outside speaker as a colloquium speaker if there is space in the Director’s calendar.
  • If the group plans activities that may overrun the $500 supplemental funds, the organizer may apply for additional funding once the initial budget has been spent.  The deadlines for such requests are November 30 for fall seminars, and March 30 for spring and year-long seminars. This additional funding is not guaranteed, but every effort will be made to offer some assistance when the Center budget allows.
  • Do note that while the Center is focused on supporting research and works-in-progress, it cannot support endeavors directly tied to the tenure process.
  • At the conclusion of the seminar, a summary and evaluation will be submitted by the organizer to the Oakley Center’s Associate Director.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Director and Associate Director with any questions you have about research seminars.