Einaudi-SSRC Dissertation Proposal Development Program

SSRC 2019 awardees at summer workshop
SSRC 2019 awardees at intensive workshop before pursuing international summer research.

The Einaudi-SSRC Dissertation Proposal Development Program offers seminars, workshops, and faculty mentoring to 12 PhD students in the social sciences or humanities who are developing research projects abroad, or domestic research projects on topics that connect to global issues and are related to the theme “Embarrassment of riches: Coping with knowledge in excess.”

Theme 2019: Embarrassment of Riches: Coping with Knowledge in Excess

Long before "big data" became a term of art, travelers, breeders, astronomers, astrologers, physicians, scientists, engineers, cartographers, ethnographers, demographers, explorers, and other experts (credentialed and otherwise) attempted to deal with surfeits of data and information about a given topic. The Einaudi-SSRC DPD Program, open to dissertation-stage students across the social sciences, humanities, and allied fields, aims to explore the idea of information excess across a wide historical and disciplinary frame.

What counts as data? Who and what are the relevant subjects and objects of analysis? Who is allowed to be an expert and what gets valued as information? What is the relationship between data and evidence? When can data count as evidence and when does it fail to? How have techniques, tools, and technologies (old and new) changed the way people grapple with problems of knowledge? How are notions of excess and paucity framed and re-framed in relation to conceptions of gender, sexuality, race, class, and disability? And how have the answers to all of these questions changed across times and places?

Many will recognize these questions as similar to those asked by their actors, but dissertation-writers will also recognize these as questions they must ask themselves each and every time they sit down to write. In following their actors’ struggles to contain data that threatens to overflow the sides of every vessel meant to contain it, dissertation writers may feel a twinge of empathy (and perhaps the uncanny). We will explore the embarrassment of riches that characterizes our efforts to make empirical sense of the world, and build shared understandings of the fundamental and often tacit practices of crafting research proposals, dissertations and monographs.


Second- and third-year graduate students in all humanities and social science disciplines who are enrolled full-time in PhD programs are eligible. Applicants are expected to have completed all or most of their required coursework and be ready to begin planning for dissertation research. First-year graduate students who have completed master’s degrees and fourth-year students who have not yet undertaken dissertation research may be eligible.


Up to $5,000 for summer research. Workshop and seminar costs are also covered.


November 15, 2018

To apply

Click here

Program details

Participants will attend seminars and mentoring sessions at Cornell, as well as intensive workshops at Cornell on May 22-24, 2019, and on September 16-18, 2019. They will also receive up to $5,000 for summer research. 

The Einaudi Center coordinates the program in collaboration with the Graduate School; College of Arts and Sciences; College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; College of Architecture, Art and Planning; Faculty of Computing and Information Science; Institute for the Social Sciences; Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future; Center for the Study of Inequality; and Society for the Humanities. 

The Einaudi-SSRC DPD Program is part of the University Initiative of the Social Science Research Council, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.