New funding opportunity supports research into contemporary social problems

Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison

At least $1 million is available from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduation Education (OVCRGE) to support UW–Madison’s new Contemporary Social Problems Initiative.

The initiative is supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

Next spring, the OVCRGE will award two-year grants for research with implications for tackling contemporary social problems in order to promote economic prosperity, enhance social and psychological well-being and improve health outcomes in the United States. Abstracts are due Nov. 16 with full proposals due Jan. 18, 2019.

The Contemporary Social Problems Initiative is intended to broadly complement the goals of the campuswide Alliance for the American Dream: DreamUp Wisconsin initiative, which is led by the Institute for Research on Poverty, funded by Schmidt Futures. The initiative seeks to improve economic security and expand, strengthen and stabilize the American middle class.

“We were thrilled with the response to the call for proposals for DreamUp,” says Lonnie Berger, director of the Institute for Research on Poverty. “The Contemporary Social Problems Initiative allows UW–Madison to expand beyond the Dane County focus of DreamUp and more fully put the Wisconsin Idea into action.”

UW–Madison researchers are invited to submit proposals addressing a wide range of topics related to economic security and prosperity, enhancing social and psychological well-being and promoting health. Applicants can be single or collaborative investigators.

“The Contemporary Social Problems Initiative is intended to foster new avenues of research that are interdisciplinary, grounded in modern technological tools and data science, and both draw from and benefit a diverse set of people and communities,” says Norman Drinkwater, interim vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “Examples include projects that look at the role of the private sector, including entrepreneurship, in promoting shared economic prosperity. We are interested in policies and programs to promote socially and economically stable families and child well-being.”

Other key research themes that will be considered for the initiative include, but are not limited to, income and wealth distribution, labor market dynamics, determinants and facilitators of economic prosperity and stability, and the causes, characteristics and consequences of income inequality.

Researchers are also invited to submit proposals that explore policies and programs to promote economic prosperity; social and psychological well-being and health through education, training, and human capital development throughout the life course; and innovative use of technology to promote economic security, social and psychological well-being and healthy lifestyles.

For questions regarding submitting an abstract or eligibility, please contact Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Jan Greenberg (

This story first appeared at

By Natasha Kassulke / October 2, 2018