Collaborative Inquiry Teams

Louisville Institute’s Collaborative Inquiry Team (CIT) program supports teams typically of four to eight pastors and professors who propose projects to strengthen the life of North American Christian congregations. Teams must have a balance of pastoral and academic researchers who will spend from 18 to 36 months exploring together a living question currently confronting church and society.

2021 CIT Information posted by June 1, 2020
GRANT TIMEFRAME: July 1, 2020-July 31, 2021 (18-36 Months)

Grant Amount: Up to $45,000 for up to three years

Deadline for Application: April 15.

2020 CIT Application Guide

Apply for a CIT today.

Louisville Institute’s Collaborative Inquiry Team (CIT) program supports teams typically of four to eight pastors and professors who propose projects to strengthen the life of North American Christian congregations. Teams must have a balance of pastoral and academic researchers who will spend from 18 to 36 months exploring together a living question currently confronting church and society.

Previous CIT Grants


Collaborative Inquiry Teams are comprised of both academic and pastoral leaders (an equal number of each) based in the United States or Canada. Applicants must have earned the terminal degree in their chosen vocation. For academy-based professionals, this is usually the Ph.D., Th.D. or the pontifical S.T.D.  For many pastors, it is the Master of Divinity degree, depending on the ecclesiastical tradition.

Proposed projects may employ a variety of methodological perspectives, including, but not limited to, historical, systematic and practical theology, the social and natural sciences, history, ethics, or biblical studies. Preference will be given to innovative, interdisciplinary research strategies that investigate adaptive challenges faced by North American congregations and faith communities.

Previous LI grantees are eligible and encouraged to apply; however, all program and financial reports for any previous grants/fellowships must be submitted prior to April 1st. Applicants may only apply to one Louisville Institute grant program within the same grant year (June 1-May 31).

Grant funding does not support tuition or degree program expenses.

Contact Jessica Bowman with eligibility questions.

CIT Application Process & Feasibility Feedback

Due to the collaborative nature of the CIT grant, LI requires a three-step process toward submitting a grant proposal:

    1. Feasibility Feedback by January 1
    2. Video Conference with LI by March 1
    3. Submit online application by April 15

Mandatory CIT Feasibility Feedback: Deadline January 1
Louisville Institute staff will be glad to provide brief initial feedback to help you determine if your CIT project idea fits our funding criteria. Consultation does not guarantee funding. However, staff feedback can help you discern whether to develop your ideas into a full grant proposal.

Before contacting us, please do the following:

    • Describe your professional/institutional context (2-3 sentences) and provide a website link (if applicable)
    • State your project’s core question — framed as a question — and say why it is vital to the church in North America (one paragraph).
    • Identify how your team plans to investigate this question, indicating potential research strategies (2-3 paragraphs).
    • Name your prospective team members and their professional locations/contexts.
    • Share your outline with several trusted colleagues and incorporate their feedback.

After completing these steps, email your core question and prospectus (500 words maximum) to Don Richter with the subject “CIT feedback.” We will respond to all feedback requests submitted prior to January 1.

Mandatory Video Conference: Deadline March 1 
By March 1, the project director and at least one other confirmed team member must have a video conference with an LI staff member in order to review the CIT core question, project timeframe and activities, and primary funding requests. LI will schedule and host the virtual meeting via Zoom. This consultation does not guarantee funding, but will strengthen your proposal as you complete for submission.

Application Deadline: April 15
Having received Feasibility Feedback by January 1, and having then fulfilled video conference expectations by March 1, the project director should have sufficient time to compile and submit a complete CIT application by the April 15 deadline.

CIT Application Requirements

All documents must be submitted by the April 1 deadline. Go to APPLY to complete application information and upload each requirement in *.pdf format (preferred). Recommenders must submit their letters by April 23rd. If you encounter problems, contact Jessica Bowman.

The CIT Project Director will submit application requirements online.  All other Team Members will receive an email to create accounts and upload résumés.

A complete proposal must include:

  • Applicant Information (time frame, amount, etc.)
  • Project Quotation: If you only had one sentence to say something about your project, what would you say?  Provide an intriguing, “quotable caption” to accompany your Project Summary.
  • Core Question: In 1-3 sentences, state your project’s core question – framed as a questions – and say why it is important to the church in North America.
  • Project Summary: Summarize your project in approximately 200-words.
  • Narrative statement: In 5-7 pages (12-point and double-spaced) describe your proposal in detail using the following outline:
      • Core Question: State concisely the primary question of your project.  What is the living question that is important to the church and society?
      • Rationale: What makes your core question a living question for church and society? Why is the topic important to your team members and to a wider public? What are the consequences if not investigated and addressed?
      • Plan: How do you intend to study and investigate the concern? Describe specific ways in which you will conduct the inquiry: field work (if appropriate), travel, team meetings (include potential dates and meeting places), and other resources and activities necessary to complete the project. How will you build trust and share project ownership among team members? Having identified a living question confronting church and society, what change theory undergirds your project activities? In what ways do you assume that your proposed project activities will lead to changes in the situation you describe? In what ways will members of your CIT live out the changes you hope for in the world? How will your plan foster genuine collaboration, not merely a multi-staged process of siloed, solo projects?
      • Sharing: Who are your intended audiences for this research?  Realizing that dissemination strategies may evolve during the course of your project, what oral forms of communication do you anticipate (e.g. sermons, education venues, speeches, conference papers, webinars, podcasts, etc.)? What written forms of communication do you anticipate (e.g., essay, article, book, blog, website, possible publication venues)?
      • Impact: What personal, academic, and spiritual impacts do you see for the team members engaged in this project? As project director, how do you imagine this project will benefit your academic or ecclesial institution? The church? in North America?
      • Timeframe: With a flexible time frame that can range from 18 to 36 months, what schedule and timeline do you envision for your CIT project? As project director, how will you fit the work of guiding this CIT into your other responsibilities?
  • Bibliography of the main sources to be consulted (2-3 pages double-spaced)
  • Budget  – see pp. 11-15 2020 CIT Application Guide
  • Team Expectations: a one-page summary of the work each team member will contribute to the project. This includes the meetings each must attend (with time and place of each), the reading and research each will do, and any other requirements related to outcomes that the team envisions (Team Expectations Template)
  • Curriculum Vitae or résumé for each team member (no more than four pages per person).  Each team member received instructions to upload their resume once the application has been submitted.  Note to applicants whose CVs exceed four pages: only the first four pages of each CV will be included in the application sent to the selection committee.
  • One-page executive summary of Team Members: Include one paragraph for each member, noting qualifications and expected contributions.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation Assessing Project Feasibility and Institutional Support Declaration for Project Director: When uploading your application requirements, provide name, email addresses and phone for recommenders and for an appropriate representative verifying institutional support.  LI will immediately email recommenders with a link to submit letters online. LI will notify you via email as each person successfully submits a letter.  Applicants should contact their recommenders in advance to explain procedures and guidelines (below).  Letters of Recommendation must be submitted by April 23rd.
      • Two Letters Assessing Project Feasibility: Feasibility letters should come from colleagues who can provide a candid assessment of the need for this project, the feasibility of this project, and the distinctiveness of this project in light of what others are doing or have already done. Your recommenders will be asked to us how you are well-suited to undertake this collaborative venture and why the proposed project addresses a living question that is vital to the church in North America.
      • Institutional Support Declaration: This online form will be completed by the appropriate representative of your church or academic institution verifying that you will be given time off to direct this project should a grant be awarded.

Review and Selection Process

Every year the LI Board appoints a selection committee to review proposals and award Collaborative Inquiry Team grants. Committee membership and deliberations remain confidential.

Applicants whose projects are not funded will be notified by mail as soon as possible following the adjudication process. Due to the large number of applications the Institute receives, LI Board and staff members do not provide additional feedback on declined proposals.

Term and Amount of Grant

Research periods supported by the CIT grant may range from 18 to 36 months. The total grant request may not exceed $45,000. Normally, the Louisville Institute will pay the grant directly to the project director’s institution. The Louisville Institute allows up to 5 % indirect costs based on the total direct costs of the project ($2,143 maximum for a $45,000 grant).


Collaborative Inquiry Team members may apply to other Louisville Institute grant programs following the first year of the CIT grant, subject to the relevant restrictions and conditions for each of those grants.