John W. Gardner Award

The John W. Gardner Award is awarded to one graduate student with the best dissertation in the Social Sciences, in the judgment of the Social Sciences Research Institute (SSRI) Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC).

Qualifications for the nomination are as follows:

  • Must be nominated by a faculty member
  • Only one nomination per department
  • The thesis must be on track for a successful defense by the end of the spring academic term

Please submit the following items by Sunday, April 23, 2023, 11:45 p.m., CST to Chris Rodriguez (

  1. A PDF copy of the dissertation
  2. A sample of text from the dissertation (Limit: Approximately 30 pages)
  3. A letter of recommendation/support (no more than two pages) from the nominating faculty member. The letter should focus on the quality and merits of the dissertation, including:
    • An overview of the dissertation/research
    • A detailed discussion of the intellectual merits and broader impacts of the dissertation, with attention to the selection criteria for the award:
      • Its significance, sophistication, and/or innovativeness: to what extent is the dissertation ground-breaking or moves knowledge to a new level?
      • Clarity of exposition: are the leading ideas and their significance clearly articulated? Are the research methods well-presented and justified?
      • Is it likely to result in a significant publication?
      • Describe any other characteristics of the dissertation that make it an exceptional contribution to the field.
  4. A one-page C.V. for the student

The SoSS Dean and Associate Dean for Research will review the nomination letter and sample of text to identify finalists. The SSRI Faculty Advisory Committee will then select the awardee.