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Destination Areas

Destination Areas 2.0

Planning & Development Grants for Transdisciplinary Discovery, Learning, and Outreach

Soliciting Proposals for Projects

The university is soliciting proposals for projects that are aligned with the Beyond Boundaries vision and that will achieve the strategic priorities in The Virginia Tech Difference: Advancing Beyond Boundaries.

Projects will target transdisciplinary discovery, learning, and outreach efforts that yield solutions to complex problems that advance the human condition and that have a high likelihood of Virginia Tech sustaining or establishing an international leadership position in the area of interest. This effort is intended to build upon and continue the foundational work of the Destination Areas, an initiative that has created transdisciplinary communities of faculty who have connected across disciplinary boundaries. As the university actualizes the Beyond Boundaries vision, these project-based awards are designed to deploy the expertise and assets that have been cultivated within the university to address compelling problems of global importance.

Project Expectations

In order to fulfill the aims and goals of the university’s vision, proposed projects are expected to be transdisciplinary in nature and encompass the Beyond Boundaries themes of global engagement, distinctive programming that differentiates the excellence at Virginia Tech of innovative approaches to grand challenges, transdisciplinary learning and discovery, experiential learning, and partnerships involving non-university entities.

The Destination Areas 2.0 Planning and Development Grants will be awarded up to the amount of $50,000 and are expected to support team and project development over an approximately 6-month period. Funding is intended to support awardees in as they engage in a process of project development that is designed to:

  • better understand and articulate the strategic opportunities and additional resources (e.g., talent, facilities, equipment, partners, etc.) that would be needed to advance the project ideas further and fully realize longer-term project goals; and
  • gauge the probability of success in achieving long-term project goals.

At the end of this initial funding period, selected awardees are expected to have a more fully formed project proposal and select awardees will be invited to participate in a second-level submission process that will require a comprehensive project proposal and budget request for more significant university resources, potentially including faculty positions.

Proposal Requirements

Proposal guidelines require submitting teams to present a long-term compelling vision, describe how that vision aligns with Beyond Boundaries goals, existing Destination Areas, and other university initiatives such as Research Frontiers.

Successful proposals will articulate the transformative nature of the work outlined and how it places Virginia Tech in the top tier of global institutions working to solve the problem identified.

The proposal should describe what the current state is in relation to the project team’s long-term vision, and consider what will be needed to better understand how that vision can be realized.

All proposals are expected to address the key topics identified under Phase I below. Awardees are expected to use the funds to prepare a more complete project proposal that will be considered for Phase II funding. An overview of the criteria that will be expected for Phase II is outlined in the additional table.

The proposal review team, chaired by the Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation and the Dean of the Gradate School, will evaluate proposals based on the extent to which they have addressed the questions outlined.

Section Heading

Criteria

Key Questions that Need to Be Answered

Compelling Problem Statement and Team Vision

Brief overview of the complex problem and why transdisciplinary collaboration and unique, innovative approaches are necessary to address the problem.

What is the complex problem and how will project outcomes impact the human condition (communities served, undergrad/grad students engaged, faculty involved, and external partnerships)?

How does the project connect to the discovery, learning, and outreach goals of a global land grant?

Project Team and Activities

Describe the transdisciplinary approach that will be used to explore solutions to the identified problem.

Who will be involved in the team (including overview of colleges, institutes, early-career/senior faculty, national/international partners)?

How is Virginia Tech and the identified team uniquely positioned to lead in addressing this problem and achieve the long-term vision inclusive of discovery, learning, and outreach goals?

What is the projected timeline that will allow the project team’s long term vision to be achieved?

How does this project strengthen and deploy the Destination Area (DA) networks and communities that have been established (e.g., DA hires, DA stakeholders, DA listservs of interested faculty, DA related seed grant awardees)?

Need for Team Formation and Further Project Development

Describe what resources the team has to assist with transdisciplinary team formation and identify what resources the team will be able to use over the next six months to formulate a compelling project proposal.

Over the six month period of the grant how will the team engage in activities to better understand and articulate the strategic opportunities and additional resources (e.g., talent, facilities, equipment, partners, etc.) that would be needed to advance the project ideas further and demonstrate the probability of success in achieving long-term project goals?

What existing university resources will the project team engage with over the next six months to create a compelling Phase II proposal (e.g., OVPRI, VP for Strategic Research Alliances, LINK+LICENSE+LAUNCH, VP Information Technology)?

What other university resources are identified to contribute towards this team and the related project (provide letters of support)? This could include contributions from colleges (e.g., cost sharing, existing college specific awards), space/facility access from investment institutes, access to equipment, support from seed grant awards under the previous DA stakeholder committees, etc.

What external resources are identified to support this project (provide supporting documentation in the form of grant award letter, etc.)?

Use of Funds

Describe how the award ($50,000 maximum) will be used to support the team in preparing a Phase II proposal.

Work is expected to start in Fall 2022 and end early Spring 2023; budgets should reflect these dates

Provide detail about which faculty member(s) will use funds and how funds will be used to support activities that will lead to a well-developed team and project idea for the Phase II proposal.

Additional Proposal Details

Proposals should be no more than 3 pages in length for the narrative addressing the criteria and sections above. An additional page is allowed for the budget and budget justification for a total submission of no more than 4 pages. Letters of support and 2-page project team CVs can be included as an appendix.

Email proposals to Catherine Amelink, Associate Vice Provost, Office of the Executive Vice Provost. Proposals are due by September 30, 2022 at midnight EST and should be submitted as a single PDF attachment. All submissions will receive confirmation of receipt by email. Notice of awards for funding is anticipated to be made by October 31, 2022.

If project teams have questions about the solicitation and/or need additional information about related university initiatives (e.g., Destination Areas), email Catherine Amelink, Associate Vice Provost, Office of the Executive Vice Provost.

Phase II Proposal Expectations

As noted above the Phase I awardees will be expected to use the Phase I Destination Areas 2.0 Planning and Development Grant to prepare a proposal for Phase II funding. In order for teams to understand what will be expected in Phase II the table below has an overview of the criteria that will be included in the Phase II proposals that will be expected to be submitted in Spring 2023.

Phase II submissions will be invited from the Phase I awardees

Overview

Criteria

Key Questions that Need to Be Answered

Project Description and Results from Team Development Activities

Description of project design and team members.

Description of results from planning and development grants that identify current strengths and how additional university investments can be used to strategically achieve long-term project goals.

What is the overall project idea and who are the team members?

What are the long-term project goals and timeline?

What are the current team strengths with regard to being able to achieve the long-term project goals? Teams are expected to provide sufficient detail about what was learned through engagement with internal resources about strengths, unique position with regard to being able to achieve project goals.

Beyond Boundaries Alignment: Communities of Discovery

Description of what opportunities this project could provide for new or enhanced partnerships internally and externally in a manner that could advance Virginia Tech’s global footprint and position Virginia Tech for future major external funding.

What is the scope and scale of the opportunity for engagement across multiple colleges, institutes, and other units internally?

What additional faculty resources will be required to enable Virginia Tech to build a world-class program in the proposed area?

What external partnerships and external funding align with this discovery, learning, and outreach effort?

Beyond Boundaries Alignment: Nexus of Discovery

Identification of existing strengths and alignment with research institutes, colleges, advancement, LINK+LICENSE+LAUNCH, and university goals.

Identification of alignment with university priorities related to diversity and inclusion that are connected to the discovery, learning, and outreach project goals.

What are college and institute commitments with regard to faculty, space, facilities, etc. related to the project?

What additional space and equipment will be required to enable Virginia Tech to build a world-class program in the proposed area?

How does this project strengthen and deploy the Destination Area (DA) networks and communities that have been established (e.g., DA hires, DA stakeholders, DA listservs of interested faculty, DA related seed grant awardees)?

How does this project align with other strategic discovery and outreach goals in the Beyond Boundaries framework (e.g., Research Frontiers, global engagement hubs, diverse networks)?

How does this effort support university priorities related to diversity and inclusion?

Beyond Boundaries Alignment: VT-Shaped Discovery

Description of transdisciplinary learning experiences that are envisioned to be part of the project and overview of how the planning grant will allow for further development of the learning experiences.

What existing transdisciplinary learning opportunities and support structures will be leveraged into this effort (Pathway Minors, Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Programs (IGEPs), etc.)?

How does this effort produce future leaders that have skills necessary for solving complex problems?

How does the effort support the university’s experiential learning goals?

What existing (e.g., ISERC) or new curricular spaces will the student learning experience involve?

Budget Justification (TBD maximum amount)

Course release, summer salary, travel, and GA support are allowable expenses. Equipment expenses may be justified with compelling justification.

Faculty lines may be available for request in Phase II.

How will requested central university investment be used to achieve project goals?

What other university resources are identified to contribute towards this project (provide letters of support)? This could include contributions from colleges (e.g., cost sharing, existing college specific awards), space/facility access from investment institutes, access to equipment, support from DA stakeholder committees, etc.

What additional faculty, equipment, and space will be required to support the initiatives?

What external resources are identified to support this project (provide supporting documentation in the form of grant award letter, etc.)?

Frequently Asked Questions

Depending on the nature of the proposed project, teams can be comprised of a combination of personnel including but not limited to tenured faculty, tenure-track faculty, collegiate faculty, research faculty, and postdoctoral researchers. It is expected that successful proposals will have strong representation on the leadership team from senior and junior full-time faculty.

This process is intended to build upon the foundational work of the Destination Area initiative and help the university determine what projects and teams might be positioned to actualize the Beyond Boundaries vision. The call for proposals and review process will help the university identify projects that have support from a variety of stakeholders including multiple college, institutes, and external groups. It is expected that the Destination Area 2.0 Planning and Development grants (Phase I) and the awarded funding will yield additional data and information about whether project goals are feasible and what additional resources might be needed to achieve long-term project goals and global impact. It is expected that teams awarded funding during Phase I will use this information and have refined their team so that they can create a well-defined proposal for Phase II.

Teams can work internally with units on campus such as Information Technology, Advancement, Research and Innovation, the VP for Strategic Research Alliances, Executive Vice Provost and Vice Provost units, Graduate School, and others. Interactions will allow for a gap analysis so the university can more clearly identify what resources are needed to advance project goals as well as develop capabilities for goal oriented transdisciplinary team-based approaches. The process will involve a collaborative effort between the Office of the Provost, Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation’s office, and the grant team.

Successful proposals will have elements of all three areas and submissions will have clearly explained how all three elements work together to yield solutions to complex problems that advance the human condition. Research efforts are provided with a higher weighting in the proposal review process because increased external funding and relationships are the most critical desired outcome.

Successful proposals would be expected to have letters of support from departmental and college level leadership as well as institutes and centers. Ideally, proposals will also be able to identify existing strengths and support upon which they are building. Existing internal support might include, for example, current space and facility support from institutes and/or centers, existing college-level funding in the form of seed grants or special initiatives, and/or support from university-level initiatives such as the seed grants awarded previously Destination Area stakeholder groups.

The review committee includes representatives from the institutes, college leadership involved in discovery, learning, and outreach efforts, faculty senate, faculty identified by the Department Heads Council, and administrative professionals who support Outreach and International Affairs, Student Affairs, experiential learning efforts, and student learning at the undergraduate and graduate level. The Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation, Dan Sui, and the Dean for Graduate Education, Aimée Surprenant will lead the review committee.

If project teams currently have external funding that is related to the proposed project this information can be briefly highlighted in the 3-page project description. If additional detail is warranted it can be included in an appendix that briefly describes the nature of the funding/partnerships and in what ways existing support will be leveraged to grow and expand work connected to the proposed project. It is not necessary to include external grants or partnerships that are no longer active and/or will not be expanded through the proposed effort.

The award amount provided through this call for proposals is intended to be used to achieve goals outlined related to team and project development over six months. Appropriate expenses include course release, travel to conduct research, and GA support, etc. Equipment expenses may be included with compelling justification. Project teams will also need time to engage with university resources as they engage in team and project development.