Clarke Forum Theme / Faculty Seminar Series Guidelines

In the interest of promoting a vibrant intellectual culture exemplifying the liberal arts at Dickinson, the College has implemented a program of one-semester Faculty Seminars that will draw scholars from across campus together to discuss compelling issues and generate new ideas and methods that they will carry back to their research, as well as to their classrooms and the community at large.

Faculty Seminars will be interdisciplinary and, whenever practicable, cross-divisional. They are intended to facilitate faculty interaction with one another as intellectuals and encourage creativity and scholarly achievement. Each seminar will focus on a topic sufficiently broad to engage a number of different fields, research agendas, and teaching interests, but also specific enough to concentrate inquiry. While many participants will take what they’ve learned in the Faculty Seminar back to their teaching, pedagogical and curricular outcomes are not its primary objectives.

Given that the Faculty Seminar’s objective of fostering intensive intellectual exchange among liberal arts colleagues complements the mission of the Clarke Forum, the Faculty Seminar and the Clarke Forum will typically share the same theme each semester. Applicants are therefore encouraged to propose seminar topics suitable as Clarke Forum themes. Past seminars have examined “Food,” “Disability,” “Inequality and Mass Incarceration in the U.S.,” “Living in a World of Limits,” “The Meanings of Race,” “Language,” “Water,” “Food,” and “War at Home.” Proposed faculty seminars not suitable as Clarke Forum themes will, however, still be considered, although the Clarke Forum will not be able to fund visiting speakers.

Faculty Seminar proposals will be selected by a subcommittee of the Research and Development Committee, in consultation with the Director of the Clarke Forum.

Faculty Seminars will typically incorporate four outside speakers to complement both the seminar and Clarke Forum programming. These speakers will meet directly with the seminar as well as deliver a typical Clarke Forum public lecture. Given the ample lead-time needed to secure these speakers, Faculty Seminars will be solicited a semester or more in advance.

Each seminar will meet for at least ten hour-long sessions during the semester, including the four sessions with the guest speakers. There will be a maximum of ten participants per seminar; each participant will receive $100.00 per seminar session; the maximum stipend for each participant is $1,000.00. The seminar chair(s) will receive an additional $400.00 for his or her additional organizational and administrative duties (to be divided if there are co-chairs). A small budget for books and supplies will also be provided. Although formal, semester-long participation in the seminar is limited to ten faculty members, seminars can, if the participants wish, open their sessions to other members of the Dickinson community.

During the four-year period for which College has been awarded a Mellon Civic Engagement Grant (through Spring 2020), one additional Faculty Seminar each year will be funded as a special Mellon Civic Seminar. This seminar will share all of the elements described above, but will add the following distinctive features. First, the topic must illuminate questions central to civic engagement. Second, the additional funding from the Mellon grant will support twelve faculty participants (rather than the usual ten) as well as a short-term campus residency for an artist or public intellectual (in any field relevant to the seminar topic). Third, participants in the Mellon Civic Seminar will be eligible to apply for post-Seminar Mellon-funded grants or course reassigned time for scholarly research or curricular development.

Proposals for a Faculty Seminar should be sent to and should include the following:

1)     A 250-word description of the topic, including a rationale for why the topic is well-suited to cross-disciplinary scholarly inquiry;

2)     The name(s) of the seminar chair(s) and of faculty interested in participating (proposals need not name an entire cohort of ten faculty—others can be added later). As this is intended to be an interdisciplinary seminar, preference will be given to proposals that draw faculty from multiple departments and all three divisions at the College.

3)     A brief preliminary list of potential readings.

4)     The names of 4-8 potential speakers who might be invited to campus as Clarke Forum speakers and guest seminar participants.

For a model of a Faculty Seminar, please see the proposal for Disability.

Questions regarding Faculty Seminars should be sent to Cotten Seiler, chair of the Faculty Seminar R & D subcommittee, at and Amy Farrell, executive director of the Clarke Forum, at