Application Guidelines

1.)  Uncomfortable Learning: Successful proposals would be expected to stretch beyond the the applicant’s anticipated academic major. The fellowships are aimed at challenging a student’s world view,whether in the context of their anticipated major or by investigating new fields of study.  The proposals should emphasize exploring new perspectives outside the familiarity of his or her prior academic emphasis and/or life experience. The Board will look favorably on, for example, a Christian who proposes working with a Muslim organization, or a politically liberal student working at a conservative think tank, or a suburban upper-middle class student pursuing a project on a Navajo or Ojibwa reservation.  Emphasis on research, especially research which is an extension of the student’s previous research, is less likely to provide the student with the experience of “uncomfortable learning” which is critical to the intent of the Gaudino Fund. Nor do projects that incorporate “Learning By Doing” opportunities, projects that are inherently dangerous (e.g., projects in war zones), or projects that are physically challenging (e.g., climbing the North Face of the Eiger) necessarily meet that standard. The Gaudino Fellowships encourage a sometimes “uncomfortable” process of personal exploration that combines new experience and academic preparation.  The Selection Committee will support projects which bridge the discomfort of new exposures and the challenge of integrating that real life experience with subsequent academic inquiry.

2.)  Homestays: Gaudino Fellows are particularly encouraged to live with families during their independent study. (The Board is more than willing to engage its resources to facilitate this, if necessary.)  This experience integrates the focus of the inquiry with the cultural mores and human values of the people who live in this unfamiliar (to the student) environment.  Gaudino Fellows are expected to learn not just within the context of a narrow assignment in January, but in the context of community. Projects should expose and ideally immerse the student in an unfamiliar culture (eg., the Christian student living with the family of a Muslim working in the aforementioned Muslim organization), affording them the opportunity to discover both the contrasts and the commonalities between his or her own culture and that of the host family and community.

3.)   Domestic vs. Foreign Proposals: Because exposure to “otherness” and unfamiliar cultures does not necessarily require traveling to foreign countries, the Gaudino Trustees will look favorably on students who consider domestic projects that explore the multiplicity of cultures within the United States.  Going forward, there will be a parity between approved international and domestic projects and available resources will be allocated appropriately. This parity underscores the value of the family stay for international students who create WSP 99’s in the United States .

4.)  Eligibility: All students beyond their freshman year are encouraged to apply.  However, Sophomores and Juniors are particularly encouraged to apply, in the hope that they will be able to take advantage of their Fellowship experience with subsequent course selections with appropriate faculty over the balance of their career at Williams.