This professional development seminar, or Proseminar, focuses on major scholarships, fellowships, and grants applications. It is designed for graduate students and advanced undergraduates in the humanities and qualitative social sciences at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and broader University of California System. The Proseminar is designed as a workshop, and has been developed over two decades of teaching and consulting at multiple institutions, in addition to insights from past and current award recipients and foundation referees. Drawing upon the creative writing workshop model’s attention to genre, style, and the revision process, as well as the research seminar’s practice of meta-critical interrogation, Proseminar activities are designed to optimize each component of an application, with special attention to refining participant research project designs and intellectual profiles. The Proseminar is in its fourth iteration at UCSB, and has been funded by the Deans of the Graduate Division, Humanities and Fine Arts, and Social Sciences, as well as the Robert and Liisa Erickson Presidential Chair in English.
The workshop is facilitated by Professor Ben Olguin, and two expert Teaching Assistants who are experienced and past major scholarship, fellowship, and grants recipients. It extends for a full quarter, and takes a piecemeal, sequential approach to the overall enterprise through large and small group activities. Each topic and exercise is strategically introduced to enable subsequent exercises and assignments pursuant to the development of a cogent intellectual profile and major research project. This Proseminar makes effective use of testimonial practice to situate each scholar in relation to their research, which referees have appreciated for providing biographical insights about an applicant’s background, experiences, interests, and motivations. That is, the Proseminar's principal focus is on sound project design, which is necessary for successful awards applications.
The Proseminar’s ultimate goal is to assist participants in developing, completing, and submitting high quality scholarship, fellowship, and grant applications. A parallel goal includes specialized supplemental mentoring for academic job applicants pursuant to preparing them to be competitive on the academic job market. Every application for an award or job usually requires three-months of intense daily work for 2-3 hours but may be completed in a slightly shorter time period if the participant develops a regular work regimen. Proseminar participants should expect to spend 100-200 hours on an application for any major award or job, with up to a dozen or more revisions for each component of an application.
The intermediate and long-term objectives—successful project design and completion that lead to awards, and jobs—are facilitated through pursuit of prerequisites that serve as the Proseminar’s immediate objectives: development of core components of a thesis, dissertation or book project, and articulation of a clear and unique, yet marketable, intellectual profile. The Proseminar also includes candid discussion of academic realpolitik that impact success and satisfaction in the academic profession.