building 21

[B]eautiful [L]imitless
[U]nconstrained [E]xploration


The Vision

Building 21 and Student Life and Learning at McGill are proud to announce the creation of the BLUE (Beautiful Limitless Unconstrained Exploration) Fellowships. Inspired by B21's core mission—to enable scholars to freely seek and pursue "crazy" ideas and projects that don't fit into conventional research domains—BLUE are not your traditional fellowships.

Through BLUE 15 students will receive a $3k stipend to explore ideas, projects or processes that push boundaries and comfort zones, and potentially touch on multiple disciplines.

Whether you have an "out-there" idea—or ideas—already ruminating in your mind, or are simply the type that has a passionate need to explore strange notions and learn in unconventional ways, we want to hear from you. 

Students from any level and any Faculty (including Continuing Studies) are welcome to apply. The more varied the mix, the more perspectives and possibilities.  Project completion does not need to be assured—we are much more interested in the process. Propose an idea you'd like to play with, tinker with, delve into. We can't wait to hear what you're dreaming up.


The Examples

Not sure what we mean by ideas and projects that are "different" and multi/cross-discipline? Projects can be entirely arts focused, science focused, or a mix. Here are a few examples:

  • How can we use augmented reality to teach philosophy?
  • How can we reinvent democracy?
  • Can we use bacteria’s quorum sensing to create poetry?
  • Can physics equations explain human’s need for art?
  • Can we reinvent website design to enhance intelligence?
  • Can we power the whole world without any waste products, or feed the whole world without harming any animals, plants or ecosystems?
  • Is our sense of the beautiful, and of aesthetic different when free floating in the space station?
  • How do we prepare for true General Artificial Intelligence?
  • What could we learn about medical education by looking at dancers?

The Details


  • 15 selected students will be granted $3k in total funding for an eight-week intensive fellowship that will occur from mid-May until mid-July, 2018 at B21. To learn more about application, selection and fellowship dates, visit the Important Dates page. 
  • $2.5k of the total $3k will be a stipend, and the remaining $500 will be reserved for the purchase of materials. The stipend ensures accessibility of the BLUE Fellowships to all McGill students, regardless of financial status.
  • Students may apply individually or as already formed groups (of up to 3 members), and can work both individually and with others.
  • Participants will be required to work out of—and be physically present at—Building 21 over the course of the eight week Fellowship. 
  • Students who graduated this year (Fall 2017 or Winter 2018) are still eligible to apply
  • We guarantee that we will not use any idea for future projects without consent, however, please stipulate in your application if you would like your idea to remain confidential if you are not selected for the fellowships.
  • Participants are required to devote a minimum of 20 hours per week to the project, divided among 4 days at B21. Participants are encouraged to work with partner laboratories and facilities (official partners to be announced shortly).
  • While projects don't need to be completed by the end of the Fellowships, fellows will be asked to present their work to the committee at that time.

The Application

To apply, students will be asked to ‘wow’ the selection committee in the manner they prefer. This means choosing whatever platform you feel will best highlight both your ideas and personal strengths (video, text, music, filmed performance, unusual and original research work, etc.).

Committee members will devote between 10-15 minutes per application. Students are invited to keep this in mind when applying and preparing their application.

The application should highlight the originality, boldness and creativity of the applicant(s) and/or the idea submitted. We are looking for students who are passionate, engaged, autonomous and are obsessed with knowledge, and learning.

Undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from any Faculty or level are invited to apply. Students may apply individually, or as already formed groups (of up to 3 members).