Career & Leadership Development

Gessell Fellowship for Social Ethics: May 1 Deadline

This fellowship was established in 2004 by John M. “Jack” Gessell, Professor emeritus of Christian ethics of Sewanee's School of Theology, to provide funding for Sewanee students to do an independent research project in social theory or social ethics. One of outcomes that Dr. Gessell hoped for through this fellowship is that the recipient will come up with a "social prescription" to address the social ethics issue that was researched.

Application deadline: May 1, 2013

Eligibility: Students of the College who will return as full-time students the following year are eligible. (Awards alternate yearly between students from the College and the School of Theology)

Major: Any

Award: Students are awarded a stipend of $1500, plus expenses (up to $500)

Duration of Internship: Academic year



Previous Gessell recipients and research topics

2004-2005-Tom Purdy, "Economic Justice in Sewanee: The Case for the Living Wage"
2005-2006-Rosemary Puckette, "Photographic History of the Willie Six Neighborhood in Sewanee"
2006-2007-Joel Turmo, "Study of Handicapped Accessibility on the Sewanee Campus"
2007-2008- Joe Brew, "Race, Privilege, and the Past: African-American Student Presence at Sewanee"
2008-2009- Richard Houser, ""The Implementation and Impact of Small Eco-Friendly Changes at the School of Theology"
2009-2010- Tina Campomizzi, "Women in Rwanda"
2010-2011- Josh Bowron, "An Examination of the Social Ethics of Sewanee's Outreach Program"
2011-2012- Carrie Ryan, "Are We Being Good Neighbors? An Examination of the Relationship Between Sewanee and its Local Communities"


All applications must be submitted by the deadline; no late entries will be accepted. It is an electronic application form. In this form, you will need to include:

1. A carefully-edited and well-written proposal (12-pt, double-spaced text, normal margins); proposals are usually at least 3 pages
2. A resume
3.  A list (not a letter) of 2-3 references (with at least one from a faculty member)

To get started in applying for this fellowship, you need to find a topic about social ethics that you are very interested in researching in depth over the course of 9-12 months. Second, make an appointment with a faculty member of your choice to discuss your research ideas. It is expected that you meet with this faculty advisor at least 2-3 times to discuss your research proposal before you submit your application (the application will ask you who your faculty advisor is.) Meeting with your advisor will help you develop and refine your proposal; asking for him/her to review the final draft of your proposal before submitting it is highly recommended.

Proposal Guidelines

Here are some detailed guidelines for how to write a proposal for this fellowship. The length of the proposal can be as long or as short as needed to convey the information below (usually around 3 pages.) The content should contain the following sections:

1) Introduction
Introduce the specific question you will address and tell why is important; keep your research question narrow and focused. The introduction should include recent literature results (i.e., what have others said on the subject?) as well as preliminary data/information you may have already generated.  Tell what background/research skills you have to prepare you to undertake the research.

2) Statement of objectives
The statement of objectives should clearly show what will be learned via the research to be undertaken during your Gessell research.  It may include a restatement and expansion of the research question; for example, it may be useful to split an overarching question asked in the introduction into smaller questions that will be specifically tested/answered.

3) Methodology/ Plan of Work
The methodology is the plan that will be used to accomplish the goals of the research, including the specific processes and activities that you will use to conduct your research.

When explaining the methods for the collection and analysis of social science data, carefully explain these procedures.  The methodology should provide enough detail to convince the proposal reviewers that the questions can and will be answered through the proposed research.  It may be appropriate to include details about research tasks that will be done or texts that will be consulted. If interviewing people will be a part of the methodology, describe the sample of participants for the project and tell how you will gain access to these participants.

Include an anticipated timeline of when the activities and procedures will be completed. This timeline should be realistic so that it convinces reviewers that the project is feasible in the time available.

Potential difficulties and limitations of the proposed procedure should be discussed.  A strong proposal will anticipate the outcomes of a line of inquiry and offer alternative approaches in cases where the problems are anticipated. Although this may seem to weaken the grant proposal, it is actually a way to answer the questions and prevent potential criticisms of the reviewers. Provide alternative procedures, or a back-up plan, of how you plan to achieve the desired goals.

4) A statement of impact
The statement of impact should address both the intrinsic intellectual merit of the project and its broader impacts.

The intellectual merit can be demonstrated via answers to the following questions:  What will we learn as the result of the proposed project that we do not know now? Why is it worth knowing? How will we know that the conclusions are valid?
One of the hopes that Dr. Gessell had for this fellowship is that the recipient will come up with a "social prescription" to address the social ethics issue that was researched.

In stating the broader impacts, discuss how the proposed research will advance your personal and educational goals.

5) Bibliography
Include a brief bibliography of previous research on the subject that you plan to use in your research.

6) Budget
In addition to the $1500 award, up to $500 may be provided to help cover the costs of conducting the research, including transportation to the research site and equipment/material costs. Please consider these budget requests carefully and include a listing of your best estimate of these expenses.

Questions? Please contact Career & Leadership Development at or  x1121.