What are Mountaintop Projects?
Mountaintop projects are interdisciplinary deep dives where faculty, students, and external partners come together and take new intellectual, creative, and/or artistic pathways that lead to transformative new innovations, new expressions, and new questions. We expect students to take radical ownership in their projects, and envision faculty mentors as partners and co-creators striving to propel their projects forward on the journey towards tangible, sustainable impact: impact which builds the skillsets, mindsets, and portfolios of pioneers and change-makers in a rapidly changing world.
Program Info / Proposal Format and Submission Process
The Office of Creative Inquiry is seeking proposals from Lehigh faculty for these two signature summer programs, which provide resources and infrastructure for advancing interdisciplinary, innovative, faculty-guided, student-driven projects. The Mountaintop Summer Experience (MTSE) runs for 10 weeks (2021 program dates are June 1st - August 6th) and the Data for Impact Summer Institute (D4I) runs for 8 weeks (June 14th-August 6th). At this time, both programs are scheduled to operate fully virtually.
Projects can be proposed for either or both programs, at the proposer’s discretion. Most projects will be considered for Mountaintop, which is open to projects from all disciplines, fields, and areas of inquiry. Projects with a specific focus on, or need for, data science, analysis, visualization etc., can be considered for D4I. Creative Inquiry partners with the Martindale Center and the Institute for Data, Intelligent Systems, and Computation (I-DISC) to design the D4I program and select projects. The D4I program provides a week-long “bootcamp” of data-focused workshops during its first week in order to bring students up to speed with core concepts, methodologies, and praxis.
All summer program projects are expected to continue into the fall 2021 semester (and, preferably, beyond), either through the CINQ courses or existing courses in the faculty member’s home department or program. Projects which intend to conclude at the end of the summer programs will be given lower priority for consideration (see “Proposal Format and Submission Process” below for more details).
For the Mountaintop program, projects selected are typically offered two funded student spots. A third funded student will be considered by request and if funds are available. Funded students (referred to as “Mountaintop Fellows”) receive stipends of $4,000 for undergraduates, or $5,500 for graduate students, for the summer, paid in five biweekly increments beginning mid-June. Projects may not request more than one funded graduate student. Faculty may also recruit or select as many unfunded students as they wish (referred to as “Mountaintop Associates”) for their project teams - see Student Selection below.
The D4I program does not fund students with stipends. However, some financial assistance will be available to students with demonstrated need who apply.
Lead faculty project mentors in both programs can utilize up to $500 in discretionary funds. These funds are not tracked by the Office of Creative Inquiry, and faculty may use them as they choose. However, the intention of these funds is to help disseminate the work of the project (through conference registration fees and the like) and/or to supplement (or in some cases support) project expense budgets. **NOTE: These funds are subject to adjustment or change if unexpected budgetary constraints arise**
Project expense budgets (for needed equipment, supplies, reagents, resources, etc.) will be considered as requested. Faculty should include a preliminary expense budget in their initial proposal. Final expense budget requests from selected projects will be due by Friday, April 2nd.
Student applications for both programs in 2021 will open on March 22nd and close on April 11th. Selected projects will be determined, faculty informed, and will be made public no later than March 21st. Both MTSE and D4I will have separate (though similar) applications for students. These applications will include a list of available projects and a link to a brief description for each. Student applicants will rank their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice of projects (one 3rd-choice option will be “any”). After applications close, faculty project mentors will be given a list of student applicants who indicated an interest in their project in the application process, and can then reach out to those students for a brief interview. The Office of Creative Inquiry will not select students for specific projects; those decisions are entirely at the discretion of the faculty lead mentor(s). Faculty mentors should inform the Office of Creative Inquiry of their student selections no later than Friday, April 23rd.
Faculty lead mentors are welcome, and in fact encouraged, to recruit students for their own projects. Those students will need to fill out an application form to the program but will be automatically accepted based on faculty recommendation / request.
Student Mountaintop Fellows (funded through stipends) are required to participate full-time in the program during the 10-week duration. They may not have summer courses, jobs, internships, or other major obligations which conflict with this commitment. Mountaintop Associates (unfunded) are expected to commit a minimum of 10 hours per week to their projects, but otherwise are allowed to have other summer commitments, employment, etc. This expectation must be explicitly conveyed to any student being considered. D4I students are generally expected to make a full-time commitment, but may have one summer class or a part-time job as long as they demonstrate the motivation and willingness to engage with their project and program elements.
Both summer programs will offer a variety of developmental, informational, and practical workshops and activities, as well as an array of guest “Innovators in Residence,” many of whom will offer guest lectures and/or meet with individual teams who could benefit from their expertise. If the programs are held in-person in Building C, lunch is provided each weekday for participating students; faculty are welcome to partake as well. Students in both programs will have the opportunity to present their work in formal and informal settings, to other program participants and external audiences (through an end-of-summer Expo).
A final word on the expectations for faculty mentors: faculty are not expected to “teach” as part of these programs. Projects proposed should have direct relevance to the faculty mentor’s research agenda and/or impact agenda. The most successful MTSE and D4I students are those who demonstrate self-efficacy, an execution-focused mindset, strong teamwork skills, openness to learning new skill sets and mindsets, and a comfort level with open-ended questions and problems. The primary roles of the faculty mentor are to advise and guide, provide resources when needed, and sync up with the team on a regular basis (at least weekly) to monitor progress.
Proposals for 2021 Mountaintop and Data for Impact projects must be submitted by the faculty member who will serve as lead mentor for the project. Staff members may submit proposals with approval from their department or stem leadership. Submit proposals in a PDF document, attached to an email sent to email@example.com, with the subject line “Summer 2021 Proposal: <Project Title>.”
Deadline for proposal submission is 11:59pm EST on Sunday, March 14th. Proposals should be ~2 pages in length and should include the following:
• Project title (will be used in program communications and marketing materials) • Name of lead faculty mentor (also the primary faculty contact)
• Names of partnering faculty/other mentors if applicable
• Names of students are already committed to the project, if any
• Types of students who would be ideal for this project…majors, skill sets, competencies, interests, etc.
• Ideal location for conducting your work (if some form of in-person work is possible)...Building C or another on-campus location
• Special equipment or setup you anticipate needing for your project
DREAM and IMPACT
∙ What is the dream?
∙ How will you pursue this dream?
∙ What is the topic/question/possibility/mode of inquiry you will employ? ∙ What is the project’s potential for impact? What might your impact look like? What disciplines, fields, or spheres will your work influence?
∙ How is this project collaborative, and what communities of practice would be involved in seeing it through, evaluating its progress, assessing its importance?
∙ What are you inspired by, what are you building on, and how are you standing on the shoulders of giants?
∙ What is the new intellectual/creative pathway you are taking?
∙ Why is this a game-changer?
∙ Who cares and why? What communities of practice are you contributing to, and calibrating against?
All project proposals will be reviewed by at least 2 evaluators based on their adherence to the set of equally-weighted criteria known as the “5 C’s”:
1. Creative Inquiry - does the project propose to forge new ground, create new knowledge, or advance praxis in some field?
2. Convergence - does the project allow for a plurality of disciplinary approaches, methodologies, cultural perspectives, ways of knowing, doing, being?
3. Continuity - does the project have sufficient scope and intention to continue into the academic year and allow for multiple teams of students to participate over multiple semesters and years?
4. Community - does the project offer to contribute to a broader community of innovation in Building C over the summer, and will its participants be active members of that community?
5. Commitment to Impact - does the project propose to advance the world forward, solve a new question or problem, or otherwise create sustainable, lasting impact in some way?
Submissions will be evaluated and funding decisions will be made no later than March 21st, 2021.