The Religion, Race & Democracy Lab is committed to continuing our documentary research program for UVA students during the current pandemic. The Lab provides students with financial support to report on religion, race, and the democratic process.

To ensure the safety of students, required workshops and meetings will take place online. As part of students’ training, the Lab will provide instruction on the technical and creative challenges of doing production work remotely. We will not fund any projects which require travel; all subjects must be reachable remotely.

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The Religion, Race & Democracy Lab invites undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Virginia to join with faculty, staff, and fellow students to investigate the complex interrelationships between religion, race and democracy. Select students will receive a stipend—$3,000 for undergraduate students and $5,000 for graduate students—to produce media-rich non-fiction narratives on any topic that explores religion, race, and democracy. Several of our undergraduate awards are designated for first-generation students.

We seek topics from around the globe and throughout history that will result in a short audio or video documentary. Final projects should engage the broadest possible audience. Please note: the stipend does not support the writing of a dissertation chapter or an academic article.

The Lab requires all student collaborators to participate in an online workshop in the documentary arts, led by UnionDocs Center for Documentary Arts. The three-day training is scheduled for June 2–4.

Throughout the research period, student collaborators receive one-on-one support from the Lab’s editor and senior producer, with additional help from instructors at Light House Studio, a Charlottesville nonprofit that trains aspiring filmmakers. Student collaborators must identify a faculty mentor with whom to consult about their research efforts. Students are expected to follow a production schedule and submit a final documentary by October 4, 2021. Stipends will be awarded in three installments and issued only when key project milestones are reached.

The ultimate goal is to present final projects on the Lab’s website, however, the Lab retains the right to publish or not publish any student-produced content. To see samples of student documentaries, visit:

Applicants must:

  • be enrolled at UVA throughout the fall 2021 semester
  • be able to participate in an online training workshop, June 2–4
  • first-generation undergraduates are strongly encouraged to apply

Students who have received Lab funding in the past are welcome to apply again.

All application materials must be submitted no later than 5 pm, on Monday, May 3, 2021.

  • completed online form, which includes:
    • project pitch (no more than 2 pages double-spaced, .pdf or .doc only); see sample pitches from This American Life
    • resume (no more than 1 page single-spaced, .pdf or .doc only)
  • brief statement of commitment from a faculty mentor emailed to
  • brief statement of commitment from a research contributor (i.e. interviewee, archivist, scholar) emailed to

Have questions? Contact us at

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We’d like to thank the SEG Family Fund at Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, the Genan Foundation, and the Jefferson Trust for so generously supporting first-generation and undergraduate research.