Alumni Innovation Fund


The GEN Alumni Innovation Fund supports members’ innovative work with one another, and with global networks of colleagues and organisations. It supports them to apply the knowledge, skills and approaches developed in GEN events in collaborative initiatives of shared learning, convening and on-the-ground action. An important goal of the Fund is to enhance cross-learning among academics and practitioners in the field, bringing science, policy and practice together.

Over the years, the fund has enabled GEN alumni to design and carry out a variety of projects, including supporting their leadership as organisers and resource people in other GEN events. We are currently fundraising to replenish the fund in order to support future collaborations among GEN alumni. We are not currently accepting applications.


Application Process

GEN alumni are invited to submit project proposals that tap into the alumni’s collective potential for innovation and action to solve contemporary environmental issues. Initial concept papers should be shared with relevant GEN members, who can be found using the GENet online platform and can provide comments and suggestions. Final two-page (1000 word) proposals, with an itemised budget and an indication of which GEN member reviewed the concept note, are then submitted to GDF for review by a grants committee. Preference will be given to applicants that have never received a GEN Innovation grant in the past, and only one proposal could be submitted per person per calendar year.

We are anticipating awarding relatively small grants of €1000 to €3000 per person; for group grants these limits would be multiplied by the number of alumni involved (e.g. a project proposed as a collaboration between two alumni could have a budget range of €2000 to €6000 whereas a project involving four alumni could range from €4000 to €12,000).

Requests may be submitted throughout the year, and the grants committee will seek to make a decision within a month after receiving a final proposal. A short report with photos should be sent to the GDF International Programme Director within a month after the funded event or initiative finishes, and a short description of the activity with one image should be uploaded to the GEN stories page.

Download the Global Environments Network Alumni Innovation Fund Application Procedure here.


Eligible Initiatives

The Alumni Innovation Fund entertains proposals that include creative ideas for tapping the alumni’s collective potential for innovation and action to solve contemporary environmental issues. Eligible initiatives would include:

  1. joint projects that would involve two or more alumni in a collaborative initiative (e.g. joint action research or dissemination of results in the field sites of one or more of the alumni); the focus should be on elements that are not typically supported by academic funding councils or institutions, but are integral to ethical and proactive research approaches. These could include, for example, advance consultations and dialogue with communities to ensure research is designed to serve questions and problems identified by local groups; and returning research results in forms of value to communities such as manuals, video, radio, and other means;
  2. collaboration on applied conservation and sustainable development projects designed and implemented by alumni with support from GESA faculty; this could include participation in the planning and development of a new community-based organization, local initiative or non-governmental organization;
  3. participation in a policy venue (e.g. World Conservation Congress, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Conference of Parties of a multilateral environmental agreement, etc.) to increase alumni’s knowledge and practice of advocacy;
  4. accompanying community representatives from the areas the alumni conduct field research to international meetings (such as the International Society of Ethnobiology, which has an Indigenous Forum and a proactive Code of Ethics);
  5. involvement in a future GESA, that is, returning to Munich in August to interact as a resource person with the new participants as a short-term fellow of the Rachel Carson Center;
  6. formal co-presentation of innovative applied research at academic conferences and professional meetings that facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue and exchange, especially as part of a panel of alumni who would participate in a multidisciplinary session;
  7. organization of a workshop at the Rachel Carson Center to follow up on a specific environmental issue; the workshop should have tangible goals and outputs, such as a collaborative document (jointly written paper, edited volume or policy guidelines); enhancement of a website, video or podcast to disseminate results; design of a research tool or approach to analysing data; or development of curricula and materials for training courses, including future GESAs (and regional academies), high school outreach or community-level capacity-building.

For further information, please contact GEN Co-Director Susannah McCandless (

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