Project Grants

The Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics awards project grants each year to community organizations, university faculty and departments, and student organizations. Awards are given to projects that stimulate and support educational events and activities related to the Center’s 2019-21 theme of inquiry, Science, Policy and the Public. The maximum award is $10,000, but most awards range from $1,000 to $5,000.

Applying for 2020-21 Project Grants

Applications for projects that will take place in fiscal year 2020-21 (which begins July 1, 2020) are due on Wednesday, February 19, by 5 p.m. Successful applicants will be notified of their selection in mid-March 2020.

Apply now

Project Focus

Over the two years of our theme of inquiry into Science, Policy and the Public, we will contemplate a number of overarching questions about the relationship between scientific research, decision-making, and the public interest. How are scientists and their communities engaging with the public and shaping policy discussions? What are the consequences when science is politicized and doubt is cast on its empirical methods of discovery? Who has the ability to exert political power, pass or reject laws, make educated decisions about natural hazards or medical technologies, and access government resources and public services related to environmental and bodily health?

During 2019-20, our current project grant year, we have focused on the topic of Environmental Disasters and Resilience within our broader theme of inquiry.

In 2020-21, we will turn our attention to the biomedical sciences and biotechnology, considering topics from the ethics of gene editing to the implications for disability.

We seek proposals for projects that relate to the following topics:

The Public Life of Science and the Public Roles of Scientists
What is the role of science and scientists in the policy process? When, why, and how are recommendations by scientists incorporated into the legislative, regulatory, legal and planning process? When and why have these efforts been included in or excluded from the process for political reasons? To what extent is scientific illiteracy responsible for the lags between science and the responses of elected officials, government agencies, and ordinary citizens? How do we address the gap between scientific complexity and the need for public solutions that are simple and familiar?

Genetic Decision-Making and Disability
With genetic technologies, there is no bright line between cure and enhancement. Who will have the authority to make the determination about where the former ends and the latter begins? Will individuals and families make these decisions? Governments? Employers? What are the implications for individuals with disabilities, especially if those disabilities originate in genetic diseases that technologies promise to cure or correct?

The Unequal Distribution of Technology’s Benefits and Harms
The actual and potential health benefits of genetic technologies (e.g. cancer treatment) and their potential harms (e.g. designer babies) are going to be unequally distributed. Will access to genetic technologies be structured by already-existing social inequalities or are they likely to create new forms of inequality? Who decides which technologies will be developed and how they will be used? What can we learn from the long history of biological determinism and eugenics that will help to navigate the challenges of the present and future?

The Challenges of Public Engagement, Regulation, and Privacy
Democratic publics need to be well informed about genetical technologies. But what does meaningful public education and engagement look like, especially when it comes to decisions about whether and how genetic technologies should be regulated in research and in the marketplace, within nations and internationally? Do individuals “own” information related to their genetic histories and identities? Does the availability of genetic information pose unique challenges for the preservation of privacy? What are we to make of popular enthusiasm about personalized genetics such as and 23andMe?

Project grant applicants should propose activities that complement the focus topics. The theme of inquiry is broad and is intended to include topics and issues from many community perspectives and academic disciplines, including the arts.

Applicant Eligibility

The Project Grant program is open to community organizations (including nonprofits and schools), university faculty and staff, university departments and programs, and student organizations. The Center does not offer grants to governmental or quasi-governmental organizations (except for schools), but such organizations may partner with a community organization or university department to jointly submit a proposal. Additionally, the Center is unable to fund projects that involve advocacy for or against a specific ballot measure, constitutional amendment or candidate for office. Projects that educate the public on the anticipated impacts of a ballot measure or constitutional amendment are acceptable.

We are looking for applicants with a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences to enhance the conversation at the Center. Awarded funds may be used for program expenses, speaker honoraria and travel, summer support for scholarly work, and faculty release time. A wide variety of projects have been funded in the past including lectures, new classes, workshops, art exhibits, conferences and theatrical performances.

Duties and Conditions

  1. Projects must be related to the theme of inquiry—specifically the topic areas listed above.
  2. Projects must impact the university and/or Oregon communities.
  3. Projects may commence no earlier than July 1, 2020 and be completed no later than June 30, 2021. If the grantee is unable to use the award during this time period, the award is forfeited. Project grants cannot be deferred. However, the grantee may reapply during the next application period.
  4. Projects must be independently administered by the grantee, without reliance on the staff of the Wayne Morse Center. Applicants must show they have the capacity to organize and carry out the project successfully.
  5. Details of project events (dates, times, locations, speakers, etc.) will be provided to the Wayne Morse Center as early as possible, preferably three months prior to the event.
  6. Projects must include The Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics as a supporter on all printed materials, publicity and websites.
  7. Within one month of completion of all work associated with the grant, we request that you submit a report to the Wayne Morse Center including a description of how the money was used, an explanation of the funded activities, and a summary of the goals achieved through the grant.

Selection Process
The selection committee consists of interdisciplinary university faculty, at least one community member, and Wayne Morse Center staff, Law Fellows and advisory board members.

Applications are judged on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to the theme of inquiry, specifically the topic areas listed above.
  • Capacity of the individual or organization to complete the project successfully
  • Strength of links to the university, the community and the state
  • Impact on the lives of individuals and/or or impact on scholarship or policy
  • Overall quality of the proposal, including whether the applicant followed the directions listed below

Proposals must be written in language accessible to readers from several disciplines. Applicants must fill out the online application, which includes the following parts:

  1. Short summary of project (100 word maximum).
  2. Description of the project (1,000-word maximum). Describe the nature of the project, proposed speakers (if any), target audience, publicity, volunteers and/or staff who will complete the project, and other relevant information. Please indicate if there are cosponsors and the timelines for planning and executing the project. Proposals should address links between the university and community.
  3. Statement of qualifications and resume (resumes limited to 2 pages per person, combined into one PDF). Please describe your qualifications to carry out the project. Explain your experience in administering similar projects and your capacity to complete the project. University applicants should demonstrate departmental support for the project.
  4. Project budget and amount requested (grant request). Please include a budget for the project and the amount requested from the Wayne Morse Center. Please indicate other sources of support and any cosponsors. Be sure to include expenses for outreach and publicity.
  5. Supporting materials. Additional materials are NOT required. (Sometimes less is more.) If you submit supporting materials, a maximum of two pages will be considered. Materials in excess of this limitation will not be considered or reviewed. If you submit a video of a performance or documentary, know that selection committee members will not view more than five minutes of it.

The selection committee may request additional information from applicants.


Applications for the 2020-21 fiscal year are due on Wednesday, February 19, by 5 p.m. Successful applicants will be notified of their selection in mid-March 2020.

Apply now

2019-20 Project Grants

The Wayne Morse Center is supporting in part or in full the following efforts:

350 Eugene will organize a Climate Town Hall in West Eugene with a focus on outreach to and gaining perspectives from historically marginalized groups who are often disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate disruption. The goal is to elicit input in setting community and government priorities for addressing climate breakdown and for implementing the City of Eugene’s Climate and Energy Action Plan. 

Beyond Toxics will hold the Environmental Justice Pathways Summit at UO in April 2020. The summit will bring together frontline communities, government officials, students, and scholars to develop a framework of environmental justice principles that will be turned into a resource guide for advocates and policymakers to embed an environmental justice framework in policy and practice. 

Cascadia Prepared is developing a Cascadia Resilience Scorecard in anticipation of the impending Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake/tsunami. The scorecard will inform policymakers and the public about the earthquake resilience status of numerous lifeline infrastructure areas, such as emergency services, transportation, communications, utilities, healthcare, etc. It will also offer recommendations on what must be done to achieve maximum survival rates and recovery. 

Eugene Science Center acquired a new immersive, full-dome planetarium show entitled Our Violent Planet, focused on three of Oregon’s natural threats -- earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes -- as well as other earth science topics such as plate tectonics. Science Center educators will work with UO scientists to develop educational programs aimed at informing our community about the hazardous environments in which we live and how we can prepare to face those hazards when they occur.

KLCC Public Radio Foundation will host a series of twelve in-depth audio reports titled Resilience and Natural Resources in Oregon. The radio features will allow Oregonians to learn about efforts around the region to address the threats presented by current and future environmental disasters. The series will culminate with a public gathering and discussion. 

Oregon Environmental Council will partner with facilitator and UO associate professor Alaí Reyes Santos to organize a series of community conversations across the state gleaning priorities, desired outcomes and stories of creative solutions from rural minority and low-income households to shape the State of Oregon’s future investments in Oregon’s natural and built water infrastructure. These perspectives will be incorporated into a report that will be publicly disseminated through OEC communications and advocacy channels and made available to the state legislature as a 100-year water vision is developed to meet the diverse water quality and quantity needs of communities across Oregon.

UO School of Journalism and Communication’s Media Center for Science and Technology and UO Institute for a Sustainable Environment will host a symposium at UO bringing together researchers, policy makers, and the public to foster decision-making focused on building resilience to future wildfire and smoke events. 

2018-19 Project Grants

2017-18 Project Grants

1999-2017 Project Grants