The Waterhouse Family Institute (WFI), housed within Villanova University’s Department of Communication, was established by a generous gift from Lawrence Waterhouse Jr., VU class of '59.

The WFI was founded to highlight the centrality of Communication in the creation of social change. Our goal is to serve as the center of an international network of Communication scholars, students, practitioners, and activists working to create a more just social world.

WFI Research Grants

The Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society (WFI) – housed within Villanova University’s Department of Communication – was founded on the principle that the study and practice of communication requires attention to values, ethics and social justice. One of the ways that we enact this mission is through the funding of research grants. These grants support the scholarly work of Communication scholars across the world, work examining communication, its impact on the world around us, and its ability to create social change and social justice.

Call for Research Proposals
Communication scholars, national and international, are invited to apply for funds to support initial or ongoing phases of scholarly research aimed at presentation and publication. Although we do not limit our grants to a specific methodological orientation or subdisciplinary focus, all projects supported by the WFI have two things in common: they make communication the primary, and not secondary, focus, and they engage communication in terms of its impact on the world around us, its ability to create social change.

Research Grants are available for faculty at all institutions of higher education, postdoctoral researchers, doctoral candidates, and other doctoral-level scholars. However, eligibility to apply for the WFI grant program is limited to those in Communication or a closely related discipline.

The WFI Research Grants are awarded selectively on the basis of academic peer review of all submitted proposals; in recent years, our acceptance rate has typically been 13-15% and roughly 18.9% for grants accepted in 2022-2023. Awards for research grants are typically in the range of $5,000-$10,000, though larger amounts may be awarded for projects that are deemed especially meritorious. The total number of grants awarded will vary, based upon budgetary constraints; however, in recent years, we have annually awarded 5-10 WFI Research Grants. Funds granted by the WFI and Villanova University (as an educational institution) may be applied to the hiring of graduate assistants, acquisition of resources or equipment, travel, and/or any other appropriate research related expenses. However, these funds may not be used to provide or supplement salaries. In addition, the WFI and Villanova (as an educational institution) do not provide funds for indirect costs associated with any grant. Each submitted proposal should include a budget that clearly indicates how granted funds will be used, excluding using funds for salary payments or indirect costs.

Application Process
Applicants for the WFI research grant program should submit formal proposals to the Director of the Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society, Dr. Bryan Crable, using Submittable. All applications will be evaluated by a committee convened by the WFI Director, one whose members' expertise reflects the content and methodology of the proposed project. The application deadline for 2023/24 is May 15, 2023, at 11:59pm EST. Absent extraordinary circumstances, proposals will not be reviewed or considered for funding if received after this date. Review of proposals will normally be completed within one-month. For purposes of planning, for grant year 2023/2024, we anticipate that funds will be available by the middle of July, 2023.

All proposals MUST be submitted through Submittable's online system. You will be asked to create a Submittable account (if you don’t currently have one); this website will take you through the process of submitting your application and will allow you to upload three files to support this application. You will be asked to provide contact information (including institutional affiliation) for the PI(s) who will be directing the project, along with the title of your project.

The following three items must be included in .doc, pdf, or rtf formats:
1. A current CV of Principal Investigator(s). Multiple files can be uploaded.
2. Abstract of the proposed research project in no more than 200-350 words.
3. The full proposal. This should be prepared for blind review, using an abbreviated title as the file name (e.g., whitenessproject_wfiproposal.pdf). Since we evaluate proposals using anonymous peer review, please do NOT include identifying information in the naming, running heads, or content of these documents, such as last names, institutional affiliations, or the like.

The proposal must include the following elements:
1. Narrative of the proposed research project. This should be no more than 10 pages in length (single-spaced, 12-point font, 1" margins), and should include:
o Rationale: (a) a clear statement of the research goals of the project and importance of the topic, (b) a description of how the proposed project specifically exemplifies the mission of the WFI, and (c) a description of the potential audience(s) for and concrete impact of the research project.
o Research Proposal: (a) brief positioning of the project within the relevant scholarly literature, (b) a clear statement of the theoretical/conceptual framework and/or methodology to be employed in the project, and, if applicable, (c) statement explaining any ethical considerations (e.g., human subjects review) related to the proposed research.
NB: Although we will award grants to projects that are in the process of securing IRB approval, we will not disburse funds until we have been provided with evidence of IRB approval. Approval for and work on grant project must be started by May of the same fiscal award year or funds will be forfeited, and the project will have to be resubmitted the following year for consideration; for this grant year, this means the deadline will be May 31, 2024.
o Time schedule: a description of the stages of the project and its expected beginning and ending dates.
o Outcome section: a description of the research outcome that will evidence success of the project.

2. References: a complete and properly formatted list of sources cited within proposal narrative.

3. Budget: A complete list of all resources and financial support needed for the project should be provided. This should also include a list and brief description of any other sources of funding for the proposed project (grants, awards, etc.).

Evaluation Process
Evaluation will be proceed according to the standards of anonymous peer review. The following criteria will be used by the Director and the evaluation committee to judge the merits of each proposal:
· The proposal includes all information requested and is formatted according to guidelines.
· The proposal has a clear rationale and a set of well-defined objectives which will advance the understanding of communication as central to social change and social justice.
· The proposed project addresses timely and important topics, in a novel or innovative way.
· The proposal is methodologically and conceptually sound and makes a significant contribution to the scholarly literature.
· The project is judged as feasible, given the time schedule, the amount of support requested, and the resources available to the researcher(s).
· The funding requested is appropriate to the scope of the project.
· The project has the potential to have significant impact, either within the academy or in relation to a specific community.
NB: The WFI Director and evaluation committee reserve the right to award grants to applicants that may be less than or more than the amount requested.

Outcomes Report
Successful grant recipients will be required to submit a brief progress report to the WFI Director midway through the timeline proposed, indicating progress toward the project's goals. Following the completion of the project, grant recipients may be asked to present the results of a project supported by a WFI grant on Villanova's campus, to provide an interview to be published on the WFI’s or Villanova’s website, or to summarize initial results in a WFI or Villanova University publication. Recipients will also be required to complete a final report, summarizing the outcome of the research project supported by the grant. Recipients are required to submit this report before requesting additional grants from the WFI, or no later than 12 months after receiving the grant. Failure to submit a report may result in ineligibility for consideration of future grants.

WFI Recognition
All scholars whose WFI-supported research is published (whether online or in print) are required to include an acknowledgement of the support of Villanova University’s Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society—and to provide a copy to the WFI’s director.

For more information on the WFI Research Grants, including information on past WFI Research Grant recipients, please visit:

Waterhouse Family Institute