The Dirksen Congressional Center
announces the resumption of its special project funding, now
named the Robert H. Michel Special Project Grants. Through these
financial awards, The Center will support work to enhance understanding
of the U.S. Congress. Individuals and organizations may apply
for a Michel Special Project Grant by following the procedures
Examples of eligible projects include conferences that bring
together congressional scholars, the collection or publication
of resources useful for research, efforts by teachers to develop
creative ways to teach about Congress, and publications, especially
those with appeal beyond academia. IMPORTANT: The projects
must have as their central focus the U.S. Congress. We
particularly value innovative endeavors that have the potential
to reach a broad audience.
As important and worthwhile as they may be, the following would not qualify for a Special Projects Grant: the development of teaching materials for a single classroom or school, field trips for students, service-learning projects, travel to conferences, the costs of professional development courses or workshops, the purchase of equipment, and basic research projects (see the Congressional Research Awards at http://www.dirksencenter.org/print_grants_CRAs.htm), among others.
Applicants may not use grant funds for indirect or overhead
Although funding for the Special Project Grants is variable,
we expect to award approximately $35,000 in total per year. Inidividual
awards will fall generally in the $2,500 to $5,000 range.
Center staff will review this initial proposal and work with
you to strengthen the application, if necessary.
2001 "The Macro-Politics of Congress," a conference co-sponsored
by the University of Colorado, The Dirksen Congressional Center,
and Yale University.
2001 Subvention for the publication of The American Congress:
The Building of Democracy, ed. Julian Zelizer (Boston
and New York: Houghton Miflin Co., 2004). The book features
40 essays that capture "the full drama, landmark legislation,
and most memorable personalities of Congress."
2001 MindUniversity won the third grant in November 2001 to
develop virtual field trips for high school students using
resources posted on The Center's Web sites and based on an
Internet organizer developed by MU (http://www.minduniversity.com/).
2004 Steve Frantzich, U.S. Naval Academy, "How a Bill Becomes
Law Interactive." This project will create an interactive "bill
becomes law" flow chart that can serve as a stand-alone activity
or as the basis of classroom instruction. Each stage of the
legislative process will be accompanied by a video clip example,
a textual description, a discussion of alternative methods
to accomplish that step, and a statistical summary (how many
bills are introduced, how many roll call votes per year,
etc.) The deliverables will include a PowerPoint presented
with video insertions, the content for textual descriptions,
and instructor's guide, and a plan to post the project results
on The Center's Web suite. The U.S. Naval Academy is providing
2005 Stephanie Vance, AdVanced Consulting, "The Congressional
Hearing Toolkit." "The Congressional Hearing Toolkit" will
help students understand the role of the congressional hearing
in the policy process, i.e., how committees operate and influence
legislation, through an interactive model. The deliverables
will include written materials, video of committee hearings,
and two committee hearing simulation models for student use.
AdVAnced Consulting is providing cost-sharing support.
2006 John Wilkerson, University of Washington, "LegSim:Senate." This
project will create a companion curricular resources to LegSim:
House of Representatives. Both permit students in classes
of any size to organize and operate their own legislature. LegSim includes
a host of instructional resources such as assignments, grading
tools, and learning icons, and is customized by the instructor.
Because LegSim is remotely hosted, students participate
from any web browser at any time and the instructor has the
flexibility to decide whether activities, such as committee
meetings, debates, or votes, occur in the classroom or outside
of it. Click here to visit the LegSim website: www.legsim.org.
2007 Jeffrey L. Bernstein, Eastern Michigan University, “What Do Our Students See When They Look at Congress?” This project uses “think-aloud” methodology to explore ways in which we can improve instruction on Congress. In the think-aloud, students are presented with a series of articles or videos about a particular issue (in this case, the Employee Free Choice Act of 2007) and about a particular legislative procedure (the filibuster). Students read source material and “think aloud” as they do so, enabling thoughts to be seen as they develop (rather than after they fully form, such as would be the case if a formal written paper is read). Bernstein’s research reveals the importance of understanding (1) the tension between majority rule and majority rights and (2) the essentially conflictual nature of legislative activity. When students have a low comfort level with these ideas, their ability to understand the work of the legislative branch suffers dramatically. See http://www.congresslink.org/print_expert_bernsteinlecture.htm for the project’s work product.
2009 FedNet, “TeachingCongress.net.” This project takes advantage of a unique, proprietary database consisting of all House and Senate floor proceedings since 1998 to produce a Web-based, interactive, multi-media resource for teaching about Congress. Conceived of as a glossary of commonly taught terms about Congress linked to digitized illustrations of those terms, TeachingCongress.net will provide a platform for the addition of lesson plans, expert commentary, and student activities. For an example related to Black History Month, visit http://www.fednet.net/tc/blackhistory.htm.
2009 American Judicature Society, “Screening Commissions for US District Judge Nominees: A Study of U.S. Senators and the Process of Choosing Federal Judges.” Funds will be used by AJS to establish a collaborative working group of scholars and researchers to design and oversee new research on senators’ use of screening commissions to recommend individuals for appointment to U.S. District Courts. As the only study of its kind since the Carter administration, it will provide an historic bridge between initiatives taken during that administration and current senatorial plans, allowing for better-informed study of the federal nominating process and senatorial practices to advance the selection of highly qualified judges.
2010 Scott A. Frisch and Sean Q. Kelly, California State University Channel Islands, “Pork: The Web Site.” Frisch and Kelly will create a multimedia website containing resources for students, teachers, researchers, the media, and the public aimed at increasing understanding of Congress and its power of the purse. The site will focus on congressional earmarks and the congressional appropriations process. This is a two-year commitment.
2010 Oxford University Press, pre-publication support for “Roll Call: A History of the United States Senate” by the late Neil MacNeil. As chief congressional correspondent for Time magazine, MacNeil had unique access to many of the major modern figures in the book—he was a good friend of Everett Dirksen and Lyndon Johnson, for example—and much of his information is drawn from his own archived reporter’s notebooks, in addition to standard historical research. The grant will assist the press in completing the manuscript and supplying footnotes.
2011 Stephen Frantzich, U.S. Naval Academy, "'So the Congressman Climbed in Bed with the Farmer's Daughter . . . .': The Serious Consequences of Congress as a Target of Humorists." This exploratory research is designed to analyze humorous representations correlated with public knowledge and evaluation of Congress. Congressional representations seem like fertile ground for testing a number of important hypotheses relevant both to Congress and a broader understanding of the sources of public opinion toward other political institutions. The research will result in a teaching module posted on The Center's Web site.
2012 Scott A. Frisch and Sean Q. Kelly, California State University Channel Islands, Politics to the Extreme: American Political Institutions in the 21st Century. This grant will help fund a conference with the purpose to examine the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to the hyper-partisanship and increasing incivility that are the hallmarks of modern American politics.
2012 Angela Evans, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, The Reclamation of the U.S. Congress. This project has three primary goals: (1) to provide recommendations to Congress for ways to improve its governance and operations given the current congressional environment; (2) to create for Congress a compilation of authoritative resources covering congressional attempts at reorganization and their outcomes; and (3) to teach students how to be engaged in, and contribute to, congressional deliberations through objective analyses.