Thomas D. Sayles Research Grant

The Ethics Institute seeks to advance Dartmouth's unique teacher scholar model by providing graduate and undergraduate students funds to work on a research project under the supervision of a Dartmouth faculty advisor. Students develop and present their proposed project to the Ethics Institute as outlined below. Projects may take place either off-campus or in Hanover. Research opportunities are not given academic credit. The Sayles Grant is available to students during all terms.


  • Applicant must be enrolled for at least one term following the research
  • Applicant must submit a complete application to the Ethics Institute by the deadline
  • A 3-5 page Final Report must be submitted evaluating the completed research in terms of its value and its impact on the student. Copies of any formal work resulting from the research period will be submitted with the Final Report or when completed
  • A brief Financial Report must be submitted showing how funds were utilized
  • The Final Report and Financial Report are due the third week of the term following the research


Amount of award may vary. As determined by Dartmouth’s Grants Coordinating Committee (GCC), award maximums are set at $2,000 per student for domestic research projects and $2,500 for projects that take place abroad.

Grants are awarded on the basis of:

  • the merits of the project and the strength of the proposal
  • a solid academic background and overall grade point average
  • faculty recommendation and/or sponsor support for the project

Application Information

  1. Review the online application in its entirety. If you have questions, contact the Ethics Institute at 646-1263 or via email.
  2. Decide on a research arrangement that fits your interests and, if off-campus, discuss these arrangements with a sponsor for that agency/ institution/ organization. Select a Dartmouth faculty member who is willing to act as your advisor in designing the research, in providing a sounding board during the research, and in evaluating your work.
  3. On the online application, upload a letter of support from your faculty advisor.
  4. Provide an itemized detailed budget of expenses during the research period. Costs may include:
    • Travel (airfare, bus, subway, automobile (current rate per mile)
    • Rent (hotel accommodations)
    • Supplies & Equipment (e.g. photocopying or library materials, fees for translators, coding interviews, long distance call related to research, rental equipment)

Application Deadline

The sixth week of term preceding term of research.

For Winter Term '20: October 21, 2019

For Spring Term '20: February 12, 2020

For Summer Term '20: May 7, 2020

For Fall Term '20: August 2, 2020

Sample of recent grant recipients' work

Internship and experiential learning which focuses on ongoing Tribal community initiatives focused on developing Indigenous Youth and future environmental leaders by hosting community workshops. I will be partnering with the Intertribal Council of Michigan to continue ecological and ethnographic fieldwork.


Thomas Jefferson thought America’s democratic ideal could expand westward
as an ethical “empire of liberty;” the paradoxic realities of settler colonialism
fueled by a uniquely democratic frontier escaped him. Decades later, Alexis de
Tocqueville sees further, toward a kind of research still needed today: inquiry
into how the democratic restlessness of American culture interacted with the
frontier, and the resulting injustices. Using both field methods (interviews,
observations), and theoretical study (archives, other writings), I would expand
geographically and historically Tocqueville’s insight into this democratic enigma.
How is the democratic frontier spirit ethically distinct from other spirits of
expansion, such as those that motivated imperial conquests by monarchies?
What is the relationship between this democratic frontier culture and the myth of
the Wild West, Manifest Destiny, and the ethical record of settlers’ encounters
with Native Americans and the Western landscape? During a five week
immersion in the history, culture, and ethics of American expansion, I will visit
historic sites, museums, universities, and archives to analyze these
questions. This field project lays the foundation for a political theory thesis in
which today’s ethical tensions and policy debates in the American West can be
better approached through a balanced grasp of their intellectual and historical


Given that immigration is becoming a more divisive topic and that framing is
becoming a commonplace tool used to influence public opinion, I use a survey
experiment with a component of conjoint analysis to examine Americans’ truthful
preferences for immigration policies and whether framing of undocumented
immigrants. I study how respondents’ immigration policy preferences change
with the usage of “unauthorized immigrants,” “undocumented immigrants,” and
“illegal aliens.” Framing has several relevant questions: does immigration
framing incite certain attitudes and behavior among Americans, and is using
these frames to achieve a goal ethical, and is using certain terms ethical, given
their implications and connotations?


Coding Justice Alito's opinions by argument to determine his most important
judicial philosophies. This will consist of reading all of the Justice's opinions and
identifying the specific reasoning patterns he most commonly uses.


Conversations among politicians are often heated and passionate, but sometimes they cross the line of civility. While some politicians apologize for their uncivil statements, how much do these apologies matter to the public? Furthermore, do in-group and out-group characteristics, specifically gender of respondent and candidate, moderate how favorably people view candidates after an apology compared to no apology? I hypothesize if the message is uncivil then politician favorability and likeliness to vote for the politician goes down; however, there will be little difference in candidate evaluation between the cases where the politician apologizes and where they do not apologize. Based on previous studies, I expect that if a participant identifies as female, they will judge uncivil messages from female politicians more harshly than uncivil messages from male candidates. To study politician incivility and apologies, I would like to conduct a between-subjects randomized survey experiment of voting age citizens in the United States and Japan. To design the two surveys, I will use Qualtrics. In the United States, I will use MTurk to collect responses; and in Japan, I will use CrowdWorks to collect responses.