Otis Fellowships Application Guidelines

The purpose of the Otis Fellowship Program is to encourage among Bates students the kinds of concern for and interests in the worlds of nature that Phil Otis ’95 demonstrated. These concerns and interests focused on the consequences for other living things of human pretensions to dominion over the rest of nature. Phil was interested in studying and reflecting upon new and innovative ways to understand, appreciate, and express our interdependencies with the earth. He was especially interested in reflecting upon how diverse cultural perspectives, especially moral perspectives, might contribute to the transformation of attitudes toward nature. Phil trusted new adventures and new personal experiences as occasions that might provide “new beginnings” for appreciating our places within the natural world.

Application Deadline: February 1

The criteria for the selection of Otis Fellows are:

(1) the degree to which the proposal is an innovative or imaginative way to carry out a personal concern or interest in the natural world;

(2) evidence of academic and other preparation for the kind of activity proposed (it is expected that Otis recipients are prepared for the intended exploration through a combination of academic work, readings, or other appropriate actions);

(3) evidence of planned activities that can be implemented and completed in the time allotted and with the funds requested.

Fellowships provide support for a student-designed project, usually undertaken over several weeks during the summer. Academic credit is not granted for Fellowships.

Since the Fellowship program aims to encourage individual students to carry out innovative and imaginative proposals, the grants may not be used to cover the costs of affiliation with another institutionalized project or program unless such participation is a small part of the otherwise individualized activities. Fellowships are not granted to support explicit research goals or programs of either the student applicant or a faculty member.

Eligibility. All full-time first-year, sophomore, and junior students, regardless of major, are eligible to apply. Seniors are not eligible. A joint application with another Bates student is possible. The budget for a joint project may be up to $12,000 if the need for extra funds is justified in the request.

Deadline. Proposals will not be accepted after the deadline. All interested students are urged to talk with one of the members of the Otis Selection Committee (see next page) prior to completing their essay. Please note: Students planning to study off campus in the 2011-2012 academic year must contact Professor Tom Wenzel in the summer or fall of 2011 to discuss their interests. Students planning to be away in the winter semester are encouraged to submit an application by December 1 in the event that the committee would like to interview them before the end of the semester.

Announcement of the Fellowships awarded is made by March 15. Applicants are informed of the selection before any public announcement is made. Students selected are expected to confirm the acceptance of their awards.

Application package. Six sets of the following items must be included in the package: (a) application form (; (b) a one-paragraph abstract; (c) a personal statement of approximately 1,000 words (3-5 pages double-spaced) that describes the focus of your activities, your reasons for doing them, the ways they will be accomplished, and what you predict the experience will mean to you; (d) a short (not more than four typed lines) summary of the activities; (e) a resume-like summary of your academic work to date and other activities that give evidence of your interest in the purposes of the Otis Fellowship; (f) the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of three persons who can attest to your qualifications for succeeding in the project; (g) a statement indicating if the project involves the use of animal or human subjects and was subject to review by the Animal Care Committee or the Institutional Review Board, and if so, whether the project was approved; (h) a concise and realistic budget for the project; (i) a project timetable with the begin and end dates of the project (these dates will be used as the basis for the contract).

Awards and budget. Awards, which usually do not exceed $6,000, are made through the Otis Fellowship program. A budget should accompany the application that includes: (1) any travel or living expenses; modest equipment costs; or translation, guiding, or transcription costs and (2) plus an additional supplemental amount up to $400 / week. Students are encouraged to discuss their budget with Kerry O’Brien in the Dean of the Faculty’s Office (122 Lane Hall, ext. 6952, email:

Financial Responsibility
If for any reason the recipient of the grant is unable to fulfill their project obligations as stated in their proposal, the student will be responsible to repay back the grant money awarded.  If the College has purchased airline tickets that the student does not use, the student is responsible to repay to the College for the price of the ticket.  If the project has been started, then the amount of payment back will be determined by Kerry O’Brien in the Dean of the Faculty’s Office.

Academic record. The selection committee may review applicant transcripts.

Interview. The selection committee reviews all proposals and may interview some applicants.

Campus report. Following the completion of the project, each Fellow offers a presentation to the College community. Details of this obligation are discussed with each Fellow.

Selection committee. The Otis Committee welcomes questions. Its members are  Jane Costlow, Professor of Russian and Christian A. Johnson Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies; Lillian Nayder, Professor of English;  Thomas Wenzel, Charles A. Dana Professor of Chemistry; and Kerry O’Brien, Assistant Dean of the Faculty.

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