Pressing Matters

Taubman Incentive Funding for Research, Creative Practice and Pedagogy – Request For Proposals

Proposal Deadline: 6pm Friday January 19th, 2024

Taubman College’s Pressing Matters program supports research, creative practice, and pedagogy that advances the state of knowledge and teaching in architecture, planning, urban design, and urban technology; addresses societal priorities and challenges of our time; and demonstrates the value that our disciplines can bring to bear on these pressing matters.

The 2024 round of Pressing Matters funding invites proposals for both research and pedagogy projects, as well as productive synergies between them. It aims to advance work across the breadth of domains represented in the college’s work of discovery and education, in order to further our climate and sustainability goals and advance other initiatives such as the U-M Center for Innovation in Detroit.


The 2024 Pressing Matters grants seek adventurous and impactful faculty proposals to advance design and planning approaches that address the focus areas of CLIMATE ACTION AND RESILIENCE and/or EQUITABLE CITY-MAKING. Work engaging any scale, medium, and methodology encompassed within our disciplines and professions is welcome. All project proposals should clearly define anticipated results and project impacts. 

Climate-oriented projects should demonstrate ways that architecture, urban design, urban & regional planning, urban technology, and/or real estate can limit anthropogenic climate change or promote human resilience in confronting it. These might address domains such as energy design and transition, low-carbon building, circular economies, reversible urbanism, design for reuse, retrofits, modular and prefabricated systems, supply chains, labor relations, metabolic interdependencies, data systems and assessment, policies, water infrastructures, or real estate pathways, for example. 

Equity-centered projects should demonstrate ways that our disciplines and professions can promote just outcomes and equitable human flourishing in and through the built environment. These might address domains such as design justice, antiracism, housing access and affordability, environmental justice, accessibility, reparative design and planning, generative AI, or labor ethics, for example.


Track I: Research and Creative Practice Proposals must be led or co-led by a faculty member from the tenured, tenure-track, or professor of practice ranks. Priority will be given to proposals that:

  • Activate collaboration among more than one faculty, faculty from other disciplines, leading professionals, nonprofit organizations, and/or community representatives.
  • Position Taubman College in relation to major grant funding streams and peer-reviewed publication and exhibition channels, and/or in relation to university, city, regional, and state initiatives. 
  • The total amount of funding for this track is $100,000, and grants will be competitively awarded for up to $20,000 each.

Track II: Pedagogy Proposals may be led or co-led by faculty of any rank. Priority will be given to proposals that:

  • Activate collaboration among faculty at Taubman College and/or other units on campus, particularly in domains with existing or potential joint offerings.
  • Align with our objectives in academic excellence, cross-disciplinary collaboration, project-based learning, diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and accessibility. 
  • Promote diverse pathways into and through architecture and planning education; advance graduate education in current or potential degrees; and/or develop certificate or credential offerings for non-degree learners.
  • The total amount of funding for this track is $50,000, and grants will be competitively awarded for up to $10,000 each.

We welcome crossover proposals (e.g. a research proposal that includes a pedagogy component, or a pedagogy proposal with potential research outcomes), but the proposal should sit primarily within one track or the other and meet the corresponding eligibility criteria.   

*N.B. If you are PI on a previous Pressing Matters grant, you are only eligible to be PI for this cycle if that project is completed and closed out before the new funding start date (March 2024). 


  • ** MAX 7 pages**

Please assemble all materials into a single pdf “PI last name_Pressing Matters_Proposal Title.pdf” and send to by 6pm on the proposal due date.



•  Project title and Abstract (up to 250 words; summarizing the topic, need for research or pedagogy, questions that will be addressed, scope and proposed methodology of the work, and the expected outcomes. If a pedagogy proposal, include course number(s).

•  List of PI(s) and participating collaborator(s), with their project roles listed

•  Partner organizations listed with brief description of roles, where applicable

•  Award Track and Amount requested for award (up to $20,000 for R+CP and up to $10,000 for Pedagogy)

•  Project milestone dates (up to Sept 30 2025 end date)


Project narrative including description of anticipated outcomes and impacts (up to 2000 words). To help structuring your document, we suggest addressing the following:


•  WHAT IS THE PROBLEM OR ISSUE THAT YOU ARE ADDRESSING AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? Open the proposal with a sense of urgency. How is this project positioned to address the Pressing Matters theme topics? This section should tell a compelling disciplinarily-relevant story, grounded in facts, relevant literature, and/or statistics.


•  WHAT IS YOUR PROPOSED OBJECTIVE, WORKPLAN, AND APPROACH ? WHAT WILL YOU DO AND HOW? IN RESEARCH AND CREATIVE PRACTICE, WHAT IS YOUR METHODOLOGY?  Outline your broad goals and specific activities planned  for the project, developing a step-by-step workplan that is clear, concise, and jargon-free.


•  WHAT IS THE TEAM’S PREVIOUS RELATED EXPERTISE OR EXPERIENCE? Does this build on previous work, or open new pathways? How has the PI’s previous experience prepared them to lead a successful project?

•  WHO ARE YOUR PARTNERS? HOW WILL YOU ENGAGE OTHERS? What is your plan for coordination with others, including team members, collaborators, or other partners? If your work is with a community, make it clear that you are already engaged and respected in the community in which you’re working.


•  WHAT WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED BY YOUR WORK? WHAT WILL ITS OUTCOMES BE? WHAT CHANGE COULD RESULT FROM YOUR PROJECT? Who will be empowered by this work, and what actions will you take to make this more likely?

•  HOW WILL YOU EVALUATE SUCCESS? Reviewers will want to know how you intend to learn from the work and integrate those insights into subsequent activities. What metrics will you use to measure success, and what do you expect the outcomes of your work to be? 

•  WHAT WILL YOUR PROJECT LOOK LIKE AFTER THIS GRANT? HOW WILL IT BE DEVELOPED AND SUSTAINED? The Pressing Matters research incentive program is intended to support and stimulate original, risky, and pathfinding new research and creative practice and pedagogy activities. As such, this award program is not an end to itself. Articulate a specific plan for developing the project in the context of your research program along with activities that will result in sustainable support. R+CP proposals should identify pathways for future external funding.


•  Budget (including any matching or collateral funding applicable) – use budget form (link)

•  Budget Justification – line item narrative (link to template)

Eligible expenses: Funding may be requested for materials, research and production assistance, project-related travel, direct costs for external participants, and services, all consistent with university procurement policies. Faculty are also encouraged to creatively leverage the resources at Taubman College and U-M such as the FABLab, the TVLab, Studio Reassembled, the Duderstadt Center, etc. in their proposals.


•  Applicant PI and co-PI brief CVs (3-pg each, highlighting topic-relevant previous work)

 Images: Up to 10 images can be included to demonstrate prior work or illustrate the narrative, if applicable.

•  If you are working with community or external partners, letters of collaboration from those entities, briefly describing how you will work together and in what capacities, must be included as part of the proposal submission.


Proposals will be reviewed by a jury of external reviewers (to be announced), who will evaluate proposals relative to the detailed submission requirements above and will be asked to make recommendations to the dean.


•   Friday, January 19, 2024 Proposals due. All submissions should be sent as a single PDF file to by 6pm.

•   Early March 2024: Target timeline for awards announcement. 

•   September 30 2025: Projects completed. (All funding must be processed prior to end of September, 2025 via M-Reports)

•   September 2025: Public presentation of the work in symposium format.

This grant program is generously supported by The Alan and Cynthia Berkshire Fund for Prototyping Tomorrow and The A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning Fund.

Questions & Clarifications:

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