Your project must fall into one of the categories below.
Be sure to clearly state your research topic and category in your submission materials.
Please note that subtopic include, but are not limited to, those listed here.
Example topics from previous INSPIRE contestants are available on the Winners page.
Your submission MUST belong in one of the following categories:



Subtopics (including but not limited to)

Example Research Projects


Comparative study of human cultures; how customary ideas, actions, and institutions shape individual and collective experience

Cultural, physical, linguistic, and medical anthropology; archaeology

  • Comparing nationalism in republics and monarchies
  • Treatment of HIV/AIDS in West Africa

Comparative Media Studies

The study of how media technologies and their uses can enrich the lives of individuals locally, nationally, and globally

Mass media, cultural studies, digital media, film theory, games

  • Media production and influences in North Korea
  • Bollywood's influence on the Indian social context
  • Impact of electronic, video and mobile games on social development of teenagers

Art and Architecture

The study of works of art and architecture and critical engagement with their social, political, and material contexts

Museum and exhibition studies, art and gender, aesthetic philosophy, modes of creative production, new technologies in art and architecture, monuments, man-made landscapes, patronage and audience, production of space, design across scales
  • Historical debates about polychrome sculpture in ancient Greece
  • Graphic techniques in Soviet propaganda posters
  • Expressions of nationalism in Le Corbusier's plans for Chandigarh

Cultural Studies

Focused on the political dynamics of culture and its historical foundations, conflicts, defining traits, aesthetics, and practices.

Can focus on a particular medium or message: ideology, social class, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, popular culture, etc.

  • Comparison of the use of gestures across various cultures
  • Race in comparative perspective
  • Social movements: Rethinking globalization


The study of the behavior of individuals, groups, and organizations when they use scarce resources to achieve desired ends

Microeconomics, macroeconomics, game theory, international economics, labor, laws and policies, natural resources; behavioral, environmental, and cultural aspects of economics

  • Why unions still matter: The effects of unionization on the distribution of employee earnings
  • Factors influencing the economic recession of 2008
  • Trafficking networks and the Mexican drug war


The study of the past and how it relates to humans; specifically, the analysis of a sequence of past events, and the determination of their causes and effects

Military, cultural, economic, environmental, gender, and public history

  • French politics and theater of the 17th and 18th centuries
  • Russian and Soviet history


The study of the rules underlying the structure of language, and what they reveal about the general principles that determine the development of language in the individual and species

Phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, psycholinguistics, speech science and technology

  • Locality and feature specificity in OCP effects: Evidence from Aymara, Dutch, and Javanese
  • German particles, modality, and the semantics of imperatives


The study of written work

Fiction, non-fiction, novel, short story, genres: romance, mystery, etc.

  • Biblical allusions present in modern literature
  • Common themes in English Renaissance literature
  • Travel writing and cultural encounters



The study of general and fundamental problems, using a critical, systematic approach and rational argument

Epistemology, logic, metaphysics, ethics and political philosophy, aesthetics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind

  • Can science explain consciousness?
  • Is morality objective?
  • Do you know that you are not dreaming?

Political Science

The study of national, state, and local government, politics, and policies.

Political theory, comparative politics, public administration, international relations, public law, political methodology

  • Trends in voter turnout since the 1980's
  • Is representative democracy the best form of government? 


Music Research

Understanding how music functions, has changed over time, and affects and is affected by the cultures in which it is made

Music history, music in culture (ethnomusicology), music theory and analysis, perception/cognition of music, music technology

  • Folk performance in Cincinnati today
  • Unusual key changes in the early works of Gustav Holst
  • Studying the average time to learn notation software

Science, Technology and Society

The study of how science and technology affect and express human values, politics, and culture

Bioethics; science and politics; history of science and technology; science, innovation, and regulation; science, technology and identity; technology and privacy

  • Technology in American history
  • Human-machine interactions
  • Self representation in social media
  • Drugs, politics, and culture

Women’s and Gender Studies

The study of women, gender, and sexuality in intersection with race, ethnicity, religion, and class

Women and development, gender and technology, gender and media, psychology of sex and gender, gender equity, social policy, reproductive rights and technology, gender and sexual identity

  • Characteristics of global female leaders in the 21st century
  • Comparing workplace and social policies in different countries
  • The history of industrialization and changing gender roles