Working Through Upheaval: Leadership for a Diverse Society, 2021-22

The 2021-22 Working Through Upheaval: Leadership for a Diverse Society Grant is an 18-month award that supports UC PhD students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences interested in substantively engaging with PhD alumni around issues and questions pertaining to leadership in the 21st-century. Not your traditional leadership program, this grant will foster a cohort of doctoral students in conversation with PhD alumni and others in order to explore leadership-based professional development within a higher education-specific frame.

We have great need for thoughtful leaders with vision and reach, comprehension and compassion. Those who are members of the communities and organizations they help to galvanize, can respond critically and effectively to crises, as well as opportunities, in ways that build upon and respond to the heterogeneous histories, languages, and perspectives of our society and institutional structures inhabited. UCHRI’s Working Through Upheaval: Leadership for a Diverse Society Initiative identifies three distinct, interrelated work-focused areas of California’s economy: technology, government, and the university. These spaces, both distinct and interactive, provide the grounds to examine and imagine models of leadership that humanize the impact these systems have on the lives of people. At a moment when the dangerous fallout of violent systems are all too clear for everyone to see, it is imperative that we develop both counter- and alternative modes of thinking and acting in an uncertain world, where qualities like decisiveness and an attunement to the needs of the most vulnerable can (and must) go hand-in-hand. By engaging directly with PhD alumni, faculty, and others working in key sectors of the California economy, this Initiative addresses how systems, and the imperative to humanize them, shape models of leadership.

Applications must be submitted online via Submittable by 11:59 PM (Pacific time) on the deadline date.

Program Details

UCHRI’s Working Through Upheaval Leadership Grant will support a cohort of up to 20 PhD students to participate in a series of activities pertaining to imagining leadership for 21st-century work (and working leadership). Activities will include:

  1. Participation in a monthly webinar/seminar series that addresses the professional development needs and interests of the cohort. Topics may include how to read an institution, the stories budgets tell, and leadership in crisis (issues regarding trust/truth/decision-making). Participants will help determine monthly webinar topics based upon their interests and in consultation with advice from regional alumni working groups. 
  2. Participation in quarterly meetings with alumni/faculty working groups engaged in statewide conversations about how three sectors of the California economy (government, technology and industry, and the university) address different models of leadership. Stressing the need for more innovative models of leadership, the two regional working groups, comprised of PhD alumni and faculty representing the three sectors, will address critical issues related to leadership, collaboration, and work cultures within — and across — each sector(s), with an eye to integrating issues of diversity, infrastructure, discrimation, truth, trust, and gender throughout all conversations. These working group meetings will tackle broad-ranging issues that affect organizations at various scales by focusing on the local/regional context as a gateway into more macro narratives.
  3. Attend a culminating event that brings together the doctoral cohort and the three regional working groups at UCHRI for a daylong conversation about the future of leadership and work.

Participants will have access to a $750 fund for activities related to professional development generally, and/or their academic research in particular. In the spirit of past UCHRI programs, specifically Humanists@Work, UCHRI will support the engagement of participants with one another in order to form a cohort of networked doctoral students and alumni. The cohort will have access to infrastructural support (like a dedicated Slack channel or Facebook group, should it be of interest) and can determine what level of engagement they would like to foster among themselves, though UCHRI strongly encourages participants to form a networked cohort that can support one another in various realms of work. Each group’s interactive activities will be principally shaped by group members. 

All applicants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with UCHRI’s online journal, Foundry, and to consider submitting work pertaining to Foundry’s new open call series, Living Through Upheaval. Foundry seeks academic submissions that experiment with content and form, and that push beyond the constraints of traditional academic publishing.

Application Details

Applicants must be UC PhD students in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. Prospective applicants must apply online via Submittable.

Required documents include:

  • Project Title and Abstract (200 words max)
  • Project Description (1,000 words max, see details below)
  • Proposed Budget (see details below)
  • Curriculum Vitae (2 pages max)

Project Description

The project description should be a maximum of 1,000 words and include the following elements:

  • Project Description that addresses the applicant’s interest in the initiative overall. The project description should address what you understand by leadership, the models you would like to envision, and how it is different/new/impactful from the (hierarchical) models around us. Feel free to use this as an opportunity to be bold in your imagining of what the future of work under a drastically different mode of leadership might look like.
  • Proposed Objectives of participating in the initiative, with details regarding how engaging with alumni and faculty regarding leadership and work will impact/shape your current projects and future professional trajectories. In addition to your specific project objectives, what kind of informal support might you want to develop with other participants in the initiative? What kinds of professional development programming would you hope to see developed in the yearlong webinar/seminar series?

 Proposed Budget

The proposed budget is made up of two elements:

*The use of MRPI funds (including these grant funds) for travel is prohibited through the end of the 2021 calendar year. Any in-person meetings will not be possible before January 1, 2022. Additionally, if your professional development plans include travel for events anytime before January 1, 2022, please note that it will not be covered by the grant. If you are planning research travel or plan to attend in-person meetings from January 2022 onward, you may submit a budget that reflects this.

Proposed budgets may cover research-related travel, meals, and lodging expenses (in 2022 ONLY) related to professional development activities as well as membership dues to professional associations and necessary research materials. Minimal food costs will be permissible where appropriate, but should not exceed 10% of the total award amount. Grant funds do not cover alcoholic beverages. 

For program related questions, please contact Shana Melnysyn, research grants manager, at Please include the name of the grant for which you need assistance.

For technical assistance, contact Submittable at