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The Consortium for World Cultures promotes pan-institutional, interdisciplinary scholarship that enhances our knowledge and understanding of cultural diversity, creativity, environmental adaptation and the evolution of humanity. Our programs seek to inspire audiences to explore the cultural and artistic heritage of the world’s peoples and cultivate appreciation for diversity through collecting activities, public programs and community engagement.
Smithsonian Grand Challenges Awards—a competitive, internal granting program—advance cross-disciplinary, integrated scholarly efforts across the Institution which relate to the Smithsonian Grand Challenge Valuing World Cultures.These awards encourage Smithsonian staff to advance research, as well as broaden access, revitalize education, strengthen collections and encourage new ways of thinking that involve emerging technology.
Grand Challenges grants are awarded through the Smithsonian Consortia at two distinct levels:
Level One grants provide seed money to develop groups around promising concepts. Successful proposals at Level One provide the time and incentive for individuals with common interests to meet and crystallize ideas for major interdisciplinary/pan-Institutional projects. These projects are intended to be short in duration (6-12 months) and focused in purpose, such as support for arranging seminars, workshops, meetings, and brown-bag lunches.
Level Two grants are larger and aimed at maturing groups poised to confront relevant issues and prepared to secure external funding. Applicants apply for Level Two funding to conduct preliminary experiments, write a position paper, explore the design of an exhibition, conduct preparatory work for a major project or produce other evidence of scholarly capacity that is deemed essential for external competition. Successful proposals at Level Two provide a group that has defined a common goal with the resources they need to establish themselves as credible competitors for external funding. Applicants for Level Two funding may already have a collaborative history or may be building on the outcome of a successful Level One process.
Michelle Delaney is director for the Smithsonian’s consortia for humanities. Delaney and a committee consider proposals for innovative research, exhibitions and programs from around the Smithsonian to determine which ones will receive funding. Delaney also serves as senior program officer for history, art and culture, working with senior staff and directors to develop and implement the Smithsonian’s strategic plans. Her office reports directly to the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture.
Before she was named consortia director in summer 2010, Delaney was curator in photographic history at the National Museum of American History. Her research interests focus on American visual culture, early Daguerreian-era photography, art photography and pictorialism, Eadweard Muybridge’s locomotion studies, contemporary photojournalism and Washington, D.C., photography.