Higher Education
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Higher Education

Overview

Higher education has been a focus of the Foundation’s grantmaking since the Foundation’s very first grant in 1936 to Yenching University in Beijing. Over half of all grant monies awarded since the Foundation’s establishment have been to higher education institutions.

Through its grants to colleges and universities, the Luce Foundation aims to advance three goals:
  • To stimulate and support scholarship, especially projects that break new ground and that cross disciplinary and geographic boundaries
  • To ensure that high-quality research, especially in the humanities and qualitative social sciences, informs policymaking and public discussion
  • To prepare the next generation of diverse scholars and academic leaders
Most of the grantmaking in support of these goals takes place through the Foundation’s thematic programs (such as American Art, Asia, Theology, or Clare Boothe Luce) or its special initiatives (like that on Religion in International Affairs). More details about those programs’ guidelines and lists of previous grants, including to colleges and universities, can be found by following the links above.

Focus

A limited number of grants are also awarded each year for higher education projects that advance the goals above but that fall outside the boundaries of its other programs. Those grants are made through the Higher Education Program.

Such grants have several characteristics:
  • They support projects in the humanities and qualitative social sciences (with one exception: projects that encourage diversity in certain STEM fields are also supported)
  • In general, they will support team-based projects or institutional initiatives rather than purely individual research projects
  • The projects they support will not only produce new knowledge but will also model new approaches to the production, dissemination and application of knowledge

Today, grantmaking in the Higher Education Program is focused on several particular strategies, as described below:
  • Encouraging new approaches to the dissemination of research outside of the academy—including to the general public or to particular communities of interest, like policymakers or practitioners
  • Facilitating collaboration, dialogue, or another kind of exchange or partnership between scholars and practitioners or policymakers
  • Facilitating and nurturing trans-disciplinary and trans-national research and training, especially across institutional boundaries and barriers of various kinds
  • Supporting dialogue and collaboration between US and non-US institutions about higher education goals and strategies, especially in order to strengthen non-US institutions and the higher education sector in other parts of the world
  • Supporting innovation in doctoral education, especially in ways that empower graduate students and equip them to thrive personally and professionally in the more challenging contemporary context
  • Eliminating obstacles to a diverse professoriate and administration, especially in the physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics

Grantseekers should review our guidelines for more information about submitting an inquiry.

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The Foundation’s vice president, Sean T. Buffington, serves as program officer for higher education. Buffington has long experience in higher education, having served most recently as president of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and before that as associate provost at Harvard University.


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