Fellowships

The D. F. Plett Historical Research Foundation provides graduate fellowships for students in the Master’s and Ph.D. programs at the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba, and in the Master’s program at Canadian Mennonite University. The Foundation also has a Postdoctoral Fellowship for applicants who already have their Ph.D. and are pursuing research related to the Foundation’s mandate.

These fellowships are intended to encourage graduate students and new scholars who are pursuing studies and research in the history of the forerunners and descendants of the 1870s Mennonite migrants to Manitoba.

Value of the Fellowships

A maximum of two Fellowships can be held at the University of Winnipeg at any given time. Ph.D. Fellowships are $15,000 while Master’s Fellowships are $10,000. Ph.D. Fellowships may be renewed once, subject to the availability of funds and a satisfactory progress report. This results in a maximum award for a Ph.D. Fellowship of $30,000 and $10,000 for a Masters Fellowship candidate. The Postdoctoral Fellowship is $20,000.

At the Canadian Mennonite University, one Master’s Fellowship is available for $7,500.

Eligibility

At the University of Winnipeg, eligible candidates must have been admitted or are applying to complete a Master of Arts degree in history in the Joint Master’s Program of the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba, or a Ph.D. in history at the University of Manitoba. The Postdoctoral Fellowship is available for students who have successfully completed a Ph.D. program.

At the Canadian Mennonite University, eligible candidates must have been admitted to complete a Master of Arts degree in Theological Studies and have completed the 36 hours of course work in the program.

Conditions of the Fellowships

The award will be held in the year for which it was granted. The thesis or dissertation must be supervised by the Chair in Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg or by a faculty member in the Biblical and Theological Studies Department at Canadian Mennonite University and must be based on primary source research. The Postdoctoral Fellowship is available for students who have successfully completed a Ph.D. program and who will be supervised by the Chair in Mennonite Studies or designate.

Next Application Deadline for all Fellowships: January 1, 2018

FAQs

What types of Fellowships does the Plett Foundation offer?

The Plett Foundation offers three distinct Fellowships at the Master’s, Ph.D., and Postdoctoral level. Please read the conditions of the Fellowships above.  The three types of Fellowships available are:

  • An annual Master’s Fellowship of $10,000 is offered to students accepted into the University of Winnipeg/University of Manitoba Joint Master of Arts Program in history. An annual Master’s Fellowship of $7,500 is offered to students pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Theological Studies at Canadian Mennonite University and who have completed 36 hours of course work in the program.
  • An annual Ph.D. Fellowship valuing $15,000 is offered to students enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the University of Manitoba.
  • An annual Postdoctoral Fellowship valuing $20,000 is offered to a recent Ph.D. graduate who is pursuing research in a field related to the Foundation’s mandate.
On what basis are Fellowships awarded?

Applications are evaluated by an awards committee consisting of the Executive Director, the Board Chair, and an additional Board Member. The award is competitive and is based on an assessment of how the proposed research project fits with the Foundation’s mandate, previous academic performance, and letters of reference.

How long can a recipient hold a Plett Foundation Fellowship?

Master’s Fellowships at the University of Winnipeg, University of Manitoba, and Canadian Mennonite University may be held for one year, in the year they are awarded.

Ph.D. Fellowships at the University of Manitoba may be held for one year, in the year they are awarded.  They may be renewed for one additional year, subject to the availability of funds and the submission of a satisfactory progress report.

Postdoctoral Fellowships at the University of Winnipeg may be held for one year, in the year they are awarded.

Can any of the Fellowships be renewed?

Yes, the Ph.D. Fellowship at the University of Manitoba may be renewed for one additional year.  Please note that this renewal is subject to the availability of funds and to the submission of a satisfactory progress report.

The Master’s Fellowships at the University of Winnipeg, University of Manitoba, and Canadian Mennonite University and the Postdoctoral Fellowships may not be renewed and must be used in the year they are granted.

Can any of the Fellowships be held concurrently with other fellowships, grants or awards?

Masters and Ph.D. Fellowships may be held concurrently with other awards. Other sources of funding should be clearly outlined in the application. The Foundation reserves the right to consider the total funding available for a candidate in making its selection. A Postdoctoral Fellowship may not be held concurrently with another Postdoctoral Fellowship award.

Can the Fellowship be supervised by a professor from another university?

Master’s and Ph.D. Fellowships held at the University of Winnipeg or the University of Manitoba must be supervised by the Chair in Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg.  Master’s Fellowships held at Canadian Mennonite University may be supervised by a CMU faculty member in the Bible and Theological Studies Department.  Postdoctoral Fellowships are also typically supervised by the Chair in Mennonite Studies.

Under special circumstances, Fellowships at the Ph.D. and Postdoctoral levels may be supervised by a professor from another university, to be designated by the Chair in Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg.  Please contact us with inquiries regarding supervision of the Foundation’s Fellowships.

How are Fellowships disbursed?

Fellowships are disbursed in two installments, one when the Fellowship is taken up, and one six months thereafter. Renewals are subject to receiving a satisfactory progress report.

Where will I work if I receive a Plett Foundation Fellowship?

Office space within the University of Winnipeg’s History Department is awarded for recipients of the Postdoctoral Fellowship for the duration of their tenure.  Master’s and Ph.D. Fellowship recipients will not receive designated office space.

Recent Fellowship Recipients

Aileen Friesen, Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Winnipeg, 2015

As a Plett Foundation postdoctoral fellow, Aileen will be exploring the migration of Russian Mennonites in the second half of the nineteenth century. During this period, Mennonites living in Ukraine chose to move in opposite directions; while many are familiar with the 1870s Mennonite migration west to the Americas, only a few decades later, Mennonites also relocated east to Siberia. Using these two cases, her project will investigate comparatively the mobility of Mennonites. It will shed new light on the structures that enabled Mennonites to move, the meaning they ascribed to this process, and how Mennonites fit into the larger story of global migration during this period.

Joseph Wiebe, Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Winnipeg, 2014
This program of study compares the land cultures of two highly distinctive cultural groups in western Canada between 1870 and 1925, analyzing the ways Mennonite and Métis relationships to the land shaped their religious identities within decidedly different legal contexts.  Wiebe’s research will draw Indigenous and Mennonite studies together by comparing and contextualizing Métis-Mennonite relations, and investigating the extent to which they are interlinked with land issues – land claims, immigration, settlement, and displacement.

Susie Fisher, Ph.D. Fellowship, University of Manitoba, 2011

With emphasis on the 1870s Mennonite migrants from pre-Revolution Imperial Russia who assembled villages in Manitoba’s West Reserve, Fisher’s inter-generational study investigates the emotional histories of rural Mennonite communities, which contributed to the production of a Canadian Mennonite ethno-religious identity between 1870 and 1950.  Her study looks at both the discourses and the material culture of emotion in order to help us understand anew processes of migration, settlement and identity construction among ethno-religious groups.  By working with existing historiography and transported artifacts, Fisher addresses the importance of emotions in shaping human mobility, modernity, attachments to homeland, transnational relationships, gendered identities, and ethno-religious communities, and the ways these processes shaped wider community ideas about acceptable emotional expression. 

Victor Kliewer, Master's Fellowship, University of Winnipeg, 2009

“Nonresistant or Pacifist? The Peace Stance of the Conservative Kanadier Mennonites, 1874-1945″

This thesis argues that the conservative Kanadier Mennonites, who first came to Canada in 1874, were committed to absolute pacifism. This commitment–one of the basics of their faith–caused major tensions with the host society, notably in times of war. In this thesis I investigate three kinds of resources, each offering a different perspective on the pacifist conviction of the conservative Kanadier Mennonites. The first consists of three migration accounts; the second includes six sermons; the third is a unique set of minutes of the “Aeltestenrat”–the Council of Elders–which record the deliberations of the church leaders who met with government officials to negotiate the alternative service program for conscientious objectors during World War II. The documents demonstrate that the conservative Kanadier Mennonites were not socially or politically engaged pacifists but that their commitment to absolute pacifism was an integral part of their overall understanding of being Christian.

Karen Warkentin, Master's Fellowship, University of Winnipeg, 2008

“‘So ha’ wie daut emma jedohne,’ (that is how we have always done it): The Collective Memory and Cultural Identity of the Old Colony Mennonites in Bolivia”

The Canadian-descendent Old Colony Mennonites first arrived in Bolivia from Mexico in 1967. Their collective identity has been shaped by a series of migrations through several countries, including Russia, Canada and Mexico. In this thesis I look at which memories are retold and how they are used to define their identity as an anti-modern people, and vice versa, how this identity filters their memories. I also look to see what it is that the Old Colony Mennonites recall of their migration history: the years before arriving in Bolivia in the 1960s, the pioneer years and succeeding decades of life in Bolivia. In addition, I examine how they have used their history to define their worlds and how their views on technology, language, and clothing are articulated by historical accounts.

Jeremy Wiebe, Ph.D. Fellowship, University of Manitoba, 2007
“A Different Kind of Station: Radio Southern Manitoba and the Reformulation of Mennonite Identity, 1957-1977″
In 1957 the Southern Manitoba Broadcasting Company launched radio station CFAM in Altona, Manitoba. The privately owned outlet emerged from the province’s Mennonite community at a moment when its people were negotiating the powerful forces of social, economic, and cultural change that were transforming North American rural life. This study describes the origins of what became known as Radio Southern Manitoba and its development into a regional cultural institution as it cultivated a broad audience over its first two decades on the air. The primary focus of this analysis is Radio Southern Manitoba’s role in the Mennonite community, and its influence in the cultural reformulation that transmuted Mennonite group identity in the latter half of the twentieth century. Through an examination of the activities and materials pertaining to the production of the radio broadcast, and a limited consideration of sources describing its consumption, this thesis explores how the broadcaster reflected and attempted to shape the culture and practices of its Mennonite audience segment. It finds that through an unconventional mix of farm programming, classical and semi-classical music, religious broadcasts, and community services, CFAM (and its later sister stations) encouraged a version of Mennonite identity deemed acceptable by members of this ethno-religious group as it shifted from being a relatively isolated people to subjects in a pluralistic, modern society.

Preservings

An annual magazine that appears each December.

Funding

Fellowships, grants for research, and publication.