Smithsonian Environmental Justice Fellowship: Envisioning a Shared and Sustainable Future
Climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss, and other environmental challenges affect everyone, but their impacts are felt most by those who are the most vulnerable. This includes historically underserved and marginalized communities, especially communities of color. Coupled with environmental challenges, social and health inequities disproportionately affect these vulnerable communities; emphasizing the need to raise awareness of these injustices, support community-based solutions, and empower community members for change.
As the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex — with 21 museums, the National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, numerous science and cultural research centers, including the newly launched Center for Environmental Justice at the Anacostia Community Museum — the Smithsonian Institution strives to play a leading role in addressing environmental justice.* Given the complexity of this challenge ahead, the Smithsonian seeks to convene diverse perspectives from a multitude of stakeholders, especially those closest and most impacted by the challenges, to inform and identify solutions. For any solution to be effective, rights and stakeholders must take into account the role of science, art, history, and culture in our society.
The Smithsonian will award two to five 2-year Environmental Justice Fellowships starting in Fall 2023. Fellows will be able to leverage the Institution’s vast resources and expertise to study environmental injustice and inform potential solutions. All proposals are welcome, but the following focus areas have been suggested by Smithsonian scholars who are poised to serve as advisors.
*Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
Deadline: August 31, 2023.
Notification Date: Fall 2023
Term: 24 months (in residence)
Stipend: Recipients will receive a stipend of $62,000 per year. Stipends are prorated for periods of less than 24 months. A maximum research allowance up to $10,000 is available for the fellowship period.
Potential research themes include, but are not limited to:
- Environmental Justice Fellowship with the Anacostia Community Museum (ACM)
- Environmental justice and community health in coastal urban watersheds (SERC)
- Understanding and addressing barriers to agricultural and conservation programs (VWL)
Environmental Justice Fellowship Eligibility
Minimum: Enrolled in Masters degree program, and relevant research and community-based engagement preferred.
How to Apply for the Environmental Justice Fellowship
Apply Through the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System (SOLAA). Select “Start Your Application” and only enter the program name.
Application Materials for the Environmental Justice Fellowship
The SOLAA application will allow you to upload the following files types (there is a 3MB limit and only the following types of documents are supported: .bmp, .doc, .docx, .gif, .jpeg, .jpg, .pdf, .png, .rtf, .tif, .tiff, .txt, .xls, and .xlsx):
Applicants are encouraged to propose to conduct research in-residence at the Smithsonian based on the research topics listed in either the Smithsonian Climate Change Fellowship or Smithsonian Environmental Justice Fellowship. Your proposal should include the following components:
Abstract: Abstract of the proposed research, not more than one page double spaced.
Research Proposal: No more than 1500 words, double spaced with a maximum of 6 pages. (Excluding all other parts of the application, such as the abstract and bibliography). Paper size should be 8.5 by 11 inches (210 mm x 297 mm), do not use type smaller than 12-point font.
In preparing your proposal, be sure to provide and address the following:
- A description of the research you plan to undertake, including the methodology to be utilized.
- The importance of the work, both in relation to the broader discipline and to your own scholarly goals.
- Justification for conducting your research at the Smithsonian and utilization of Smithsonian collections and resources.
- Identification of the member of the Smithsonian’s research staff who might serve as your principal advisor/host. Also identify potential co-advisor(s) and/or consultant(s) if applicable. The publication, Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study (SORS), contains the necessary information on staff research specialties and current departmental interests to help you determine which staff members are best suited to your research needs. Research staff may be named by applicants to serve as principal advisors, co-advisors or consultants. Affiliated research staff may be named as co-advisors or consultants if they will be in residence during at least a portion of the tenure period proposed. You are strongly encouraged to correspond with your proposed advisor(s) as you prepare your proposal.
Timeline: Estimate of time period for each phase of the research proposed for the full time period (regardless of one or two years).
- Please address – How your perspective, experience, and/or project contribute to a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable discipline.
- No more than one (1) page, double spaced.
- This needs to be uploaded for the application material name “Other” in SOLAA.
Budget and justification: Budget and justification for equipment, supplies, research-related travel costs, and other support required to conduct the research itself (excluding stipend and relocation costs). You are encouraged to discuss potential research costs with your proposed advisor(s) before submitting your application. If the funds required to support the research exceed the maximum research allowance of $10,000, please explain the source of additional funds.
Bibliography: Bibliography of literature relevant to the applicant’s proposed research.
Curriculum vitae: Curriculum vitae, including previous and current fellowships, grants, and/or awards, and a description of your research interests. Also, if English is not your native language, describe the level of your proficiency in reading, conversing, and writing in English.
Transcripts (unofficial are acceptable): Applicants for postdoctoral fellowships need only submit graduate transcripts. If transcripts or other materials are not in English, the applicant should provide translations.
References: You will need the names and email addresses of two persons familiar with your work. Please note that all reference letters are considered confidential unless confidentiality has been specifically waived by the referee. Do not list Smithsonian staff members as your referees; they will have the opportunity to review your application after it is submitted. Please provide a copy of your proposal and a copy of Letter to Referee (downloadable pdf) to your referees. Please be sure reference letters are submitted by the application deadline.
- Through SOLAA you will send an email from the system to these referees so they can provide references through the SOLAA system. Please note: referees will not be able to view your application and you may send the request any time prior to submission. They will still be able to submit their reference before or after you submit your application.
- Referees are encouraged to submit references no later than the application due date. However, references can be submitted after the deadline and but there is no guarantee it will be included once the review process begins.
- Applicant’s can check their SOLAA application to determine if letters of recommendation have been submitted or not. Applicants are encouraged to follow-up with referees who have not yet submitted.
Contact: Office of Academic Appointments and Internships with questions or for more information. E-mail: FellowsSI@si.edu.
The Smithsonian Environmental Justice Fellowship Program does not discriminate on grounds of race, creed, sex, age, marital status, condition of handicap, or national origin of any applicant. No employee or contractor of the Smithsonian Institution may hold a Smithsonian fellowship during the time of his/her employment or contract, nor may an award be offered to any person who has been employed by or under contract to the Institution in the previous year, without the prior approval of the Office of Academic Appointments and Internships.
Environmental Justice Fellowship with the Anacostia Community Museum (ACM)
By placing environmental advocacy in the contexts of community life and larger ongoing justice movements, the Environmental Justice Fellow at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) will explore and engage models of community-led environmental justice action. This fellowship aligns with the museum’s decades-long environmental justice research and programming which will culminate in April 2023 with the launch of ACM’s Center for Environmental Justice (CEJ).
The CEJ is organized in four pathways of inquiry: cultural practice, faith, public policy, and inclusive leadership. Central to the museum’s practice is the investigation of societal inequities impacting those furthest from justice in urban communities, particularly in places where people “live, work, learn, play, and pray.” This phrase was coined by women of color environmental justice activists and advocates to center the impacts of environmental issues on everyday people.
Environmental justice and community health in coastal urban watersheds (SERC)
Urban health disparities linked to unequal exposure and vulnerability to environmental risks (e.g., polluted waterways, flooding) are tied to historical and ongoing disinvestment, especially in lower-income communities and communities of color. New community-focused urban waterway revisioning projects aim to reconnect urban communities with their waterways.
These projects provide opportunities to assess and redress underlying distributional injustices, while also providing avenues for procedural and restorative justice by centering communities in planning and implementation of projects. Our goal is to (re)connect communities and the waterway at the frontlines of environmental injustices through environmental research.
Understanding and addressing barriers to agricultural and conservation programs (VWL)
Minority and underserved farmers and landowners often face significant challenges when enrolling in agricultural and conservation programs throughout the United States. Recent studies have shed light on a range of obstacles that impede their involvement, highlighting systemic barriers and disparities that contribute to inequitable access and limited opportunities. These obstacles include limited access to land, institutional barriers, financial constraints, limited availability of technical assistance, and social and cultural factors.
Through existing collaborations with landowners, state conservation and agriculture programs, and community partners, Smithsonian’s Virginia Working Landscapes program is uniquely suited to build upon existing research to better understand the foundation of these injustices and to use findings to guide the development of targeted interventions that address the specific needs and challenges of underserved farmers and landowners in Virginia.
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