The Institute on Religious Pluralism in the United States will provide a multinational group of up to 18 experienced foreign university faculty, scholars, researchers and religious leaders with a deeper understanding of U.S. society and culture, past and present, through an examination of religious pluralism in the United States and its intersection with American democracy. The program will include a survey of the religious landscape of the United States, including religious groups; an exploration of the historical and contemporary relationship between church and state in the United States; an examination of the ways in which religious thought and practice have modified and have been influenced by, the development of American-style democracy; and discussions on the intersections of religion and politics in the United States in such areas as elections, public policy, and foreign policy. Participants will have opportunities to meet U.S. community leaders of different faiths who advocate for collaboration and tolerance among religious groups. The Institute for Training and Development (ITD) in Amherst, MA will oversee and administer this program; Seattle University in Seattle, WA will conduct and host the Institute.


Program Overview

Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars (SUSIs) are intensive post-graduate level academic programs whose purpose is to provide foreign university faculty and other scholars the opportunity to deepen their understanding of U.S. society, culture, values, and institutions. The ultimate goal of the Institutes is to strengthen curricula and to enhance the quality of teaching about the United States in academic institutions abroad.

Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars (SUSIs) will be conducted by various colleges, universities, and academic institutions throughout the United States beginning in or after June 2021. Each Institute will include a virtual academic residency and an integrated in-person experience approximately two weeks in length at a U.S. host institution. During the academic residency, participants will engage remotely from their home countries in Institute activities. If conditions allow, participants will travel to the U.S. in fall 2021 or winter 2022 to participate in educational and cultural activities inside and outside of the classroom, lectures and site visits to local communities. The in-person component in the U.S. will be organized taking into consideration all necessary safety guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state, local and campus authorities. Prospective applicants can find general information about SUSI on the website,

Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars comprise the following themes in U.S. Studies:

  • Journalism and Media;
  • Religious Pluralism in the United States;
  • U.S. Foreign Policy;

Program Funding

All participant costs will be covered, including international and domestic travel in the United States, housing and subsistence, and book, cultural, mailing, and incidental allowances.

Housing and Meal Arrangements for the in-person component

Each participant will have a private room and bathroom during the in-person portion of the Institute. Most meals will be provided at campus facilities; participants may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals on their own. Full details will be provided at a later stage. Care will be taken to ensure that any special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, housing, and medical care are satisfied.

Travel Arrangements

International and visa travel will be covered. Each participant will also be provided with a $100 travel allowance. In all Institutes, the host institutions will cover any travel within the United States during the Institute.

Health Benefits

All participants will receive the Department of State’s Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) health benefit that provides coverage of up to $100,000 with a $25 co-pay per medical visit and a $75 co-pay per emergency room visit, for the duration of the program. COVID-19 is treated like any other illness under the ASPE policy. Information on the health benefit program may be found online at

Program Requirements and Restrictions

Participants must complete the entire virtual program in order to participate in the in-person program component in the United States. Candidates should be aware that they are applying for an intensive, rigorous, academic program and are expected to fully participate in all aspects of the program. The Institute is not a research program. Participants must attend all lectures and organized activities and complete assigned readings. During the U.S. component of the Institute, family members and/or friends may not accompany participants on any part of the program. Please note that Institute curriculum will not formally address teaching methodology and pedagogical methods.

Program Model

The virtual program will consist of a minimum of 36 hours of required programming and will be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning. To the extent possible, the virtual programming will include lectures, small group discussions, videos, readings, panels, site visits, assignments, and individual and group activities. Participants are required to fully participate in the entire virtual program from their home country. Participants must complete the virtual program in order to continue to the in-person program in the United States.

Technology Requirements

In order to participate in the initial virtual program component in their home country, participants must have access to a computer and a stable internet connection. If a participant does not have a computer or adequate internet access ITD and the University of Montana will work with the participant to facilitate computer access on an as-needed basis. For the in-person component of the program, the host institutions will provide participants with access to a computer and internet.


Participants will be expected to actively engage in all program activities, and therefore, they should notify immediately the host institution of any issues with their online access during the duration of the program as well as any difficulties affecting their participation.

Candidate Description and Qualifications

Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars are highly competitive. Priority will be given to candidates who have firm plans to enhance, update or develop courses and/or educational materials with a U.S. studies focus or component; who have no prior or limited experience in the United States; and who have special interest in the program subject areas as demonstrated through past scholarship, accomplishments, and professional duties.

Candidates should be mid-career, typically between the ages of 30-50, highly motivated, experienced scholars and professionals generally from institutions of higher education or research-focused organizations (not-for-profits, think tanks, etc.). While the educational level of participants will likely vary, most should have graduate degrees and have substantial knowledge of the thematic area of the Institute or a related field.

Ideal candidates are individuals whose home institution is seeking to introduce aspects of U.S. studies into its curricula, to develop new courses in the subject of the Institute, to enhance and update existing courses on the United States, or to offer specialized seminars/workshops for professionals in U.S. studies areas related to the program theme. While the nominee’s scholarly and professional credentials are an important consideration, the potential impact and multiplier effect from their participation in the Institute is equally important. Ideal candidates will have little or no prior experience in the United States.

Candidates must demonstrate English language fluency. Institutes are rigorous and demanding academic programs conducted entirely in English. Participants will be expected to read and comprehend substantial written materials and assignments in English and to fully and actively participate in all seminar and panel discussions. English fluency is vital to a successful experience in the Institute, for participants as individuals and to foster a cohesive and interactive group.

Candidates should be willing and able to fully take part in an intensive post-graduate level academic program and study tour. It is important that participants are comfortable with campus life and an active program schedule. Candidates from disadvantaged groups, individuals with disabilities, and women are encouraged to apply. While senior faculty members and new professionals to the field are eligible applicants, first consideration will be given to mid-career professionals with little or no prior experience in the United States.

Application deadline

Competition opens on February 22nd and closes March 7th 2021.

<<Access the application form here>>.

Selection process

Only pre-selected candidates will be invited to an interview. All candidates will be notified of application results until late March.

Information requests

Please, direct your information requests to

Important information

  1. All participants must be fully proficient in English; throughout the Institute, they will need to fully understand lectures, actively participate in discussions, and read and write assignments in English.
  2. U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) are NOT eligible to participate in this program.
  3. Candidates with some experience in the United States can be considered for the program.  Please be sure to clearly indicate the purpose of your prior visit(s) to the United States, the year, and the length of stay.
  4. Participants in Scholar Institutes may, at their own expense, opt to extend their stay in the United States after the close of their program to the extent allowed by visa regulations.
  5. We will consider candidates from a variety of professional backgrounds who are professors at all stages of their careers, practitioners in a designated field, college and university administrators, and community leaders, among others.
  6. Because of the intensive nature of the Institutes, participants will NOT be able to leave the Institute to visit relatives or friends.
  7. Relatives are NOT permitted to travel or stay with a participant during the program. There are no exceptions to this rule.
  8. The Study of the U.S. Branch strives to have the best possible diversity and gender balance in each Institute.
  9. Participants are expected to arrive on the Institute start date. Occasionally flight schedules necessitate that a participant to arrive a day early. These situations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Participants will have an opportunity to review their flight itinerary before it is booked. Once the host institution has booked the itinerary, the participant is responsible for making and paying for any itinerary changes, should the participant choose to change their plans.
  10. Under the terms of their J-1 visas, participants have up to 30 days after the end of the program to depart from the United States. However, the participant must be aware that s/he is responsible for all expenses after the end of the Institute and will no longer have sponsored health benefits.
  11. All participants are expected to participate in all scheduled lectures, events, site visits, trips, and activities.
  12. The Study of the U.S. Institutes cover all costs of an individual’s participation including transportation, lodging, and meals. Generally, host institutions provide for meals through a combination of a cafeteria meal plan and cash allowance to permit participants to cook or eat at local restaurants. Information on housing and meal arrangements will be provided by the host institution prior to the start of the Institute. Participants should bring their own spending money if they wish to purchase souvenirs or other items during their time in the United States. All participating scholars will receive a stipend to purchase books and research materials while in the United States.
  13. The Study of the U.S. Branch welcomes individuals with disabilities. We are committed to working with our Institute hosts to arrange reasonable accommodations for all participants. While notification of a disability will not negatively impact selection, we ask that you identify disabilities during the application process to ensure appropriate accommodations.