Berkman Klein Center Fellowship program at Harvard University 2024-2025
Deadline: Monday, January 22, 2024, at 11:59pm Eastern
The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is now accepting Berkman Klein Center Fellowship program fellowship applications for the 2024-2025 academic year through our open call. This opportunity is for scholars and practitioners who wish to spend 2024-2025 in residence in Cambridge, MA, as part of the Center’s vibrant community of research and practice, and who seek to engage in collaborative, cross-disciplinary, and cross-sectoral exploration of the Internet’s most important issues.
We have refined a number of elements of our fellowship program. Drawing on our experience engaging fellows over the last two decades, we seek to make our fellowship sustainable for participants while preserving the range of opportunities and special environment that fellows have both benefited from and worked to build.
Information about our 2024-2025 program is detailed below.
About the Berkman Klein Fellowship Program
“The Berkman Klein Center’s mission is to explore and understand cyberspace; to study its development, dynamics, norms, and standards; and to assess the need or lack thereof for laws and sanctions. We are a research center, premised on the observation that what we seek to learn is not already recorded. Our method is to build out into cyberspace, record data as we go, self-study, and share. Our mode is entrepreneurial nonprofit.” —BKC Mission
The Berkman Klein Center’s fellowship program provides an opportunity for innovative thinkers and changemakers to come together to hone and share ideas, find camaraderie, and spawn new initiatives. The program encourages and supports fellows in an inviting and playful intellectual environment with community activities designed to foster inquiry and risk-taking; to identify and expose common threads across fellows’ individual activities; and to bring fellows into conversation with the students, staff, faculty, and broader community at the Berkman Klein Center. From their diverse backgrounds and wide-ranging physical and virtual travels, Berkman Klein Center fellows bring fresh ideas, skills, passion, and connections to the Center and our community, and from their time spent in Cambridge, they help build and extend new perspectives and activities back out into their home networks, communities, and fields. Fellows appointed through this open call come into their fellowship with a personal research agenda, a set of ambitions, and a sense of the public scholarship and community interactions they wish to foster while at the Center.
Opportunities and Expectations
The specific expectations for individual participants in the fellows program will be unique to each scholar, with broad expectations outlined below.
Producing a Project that Contributes to Public Scholarship:
Fellows will be expected to produce at least one public output that impacts and informs the scholarly and public debates in the arenas in which they work. These outputs could take many forms, including:
- technical or design prototype(s)
- public writing, such as long form pieces, op-eds, blog posts, or interviews
- convenings organized and led by the fellow
- reports or white papers
- a website or other online resource
- academic writing, such as a research paper
Contributing to the Intellectual Life of the Fellowship Cohort:
In addition to each fellow’s personal research agenda, fellows will, together, actively design and participate in weekly all-fellows sessions at which research and ideas are presented and discussed, and they will participate in other cohort-scoped activities, such as working groups, skill-building sessions and trainings, workshops, and shared meals. While engaging in both substance and process is a baseline expectation, much of what makes the fellowship program rewarding is created each year by the fellows themselves to address their own interests and priorities. These entrepreneurial, collaborative ventures – ranging at once from goal-oriented to experimental, from rigorous to humorous – ensure the dynamism of the fellowship experience and program.
Contributing to the Intellectual Life of the Wider Berkman Klein Center Community:
The fellows program is housed under the Berkman Klein Center’s big tent of programs and institutional research efforts, and, in addition to each other, fellows will be in community with people who are part of the Center through these other forums. This includes people working with the Center’s Institute for Rebooting Social Media, participants in the Center’s research sprints, students from Harvard and other institutions who work with the Center in different research capacities, partners and collaborators at peer organizations, and more. The Berkman Klein Center is known for fostering a prismatic network that is both deep and wide, with people of all ages and career stages, from all over the world, coming from different sectors and disciplines, and tackling Internet studies with an enormous range of lenses and purviews. This incredible and generous community, built with intention and care over the life of the Center, is undoubtedly one of the Center’s greatest assets and engines, and fellows will engage and activate this far-reaching network through events, listserv dialogues, reading groups, joint projects, and more.
Areas of Interest for 2024-2025:
We invite applications from scholars whose research advances Internet & society studies in the public interest.
Alongside and in conversation with the breadth and depth of topics explored through the Center’s research projects, fellows engage the fairly limitless expanse of Internet & society issues. Within each cohort of fellows we encourage and strive for wide inquisition and focused study, and these areas of speciality and exploration vary from fellow to fellow and year to year.
Some broad issues of interest in the coming year include (but are not limited to) fairness and justice; democracy; authoritarianism and extremism; Web3 and decentralization; trust; global Internet governance; data governance; youth, media, and child protection; sociotechnical systems for learning and connecting; human rights; equity, agency, inclusion, and diversity; digital identity; artificial intelligence; quantum computing; the metaverse; generative AI and its implications for labor, regulatory regimens, and ethics; and digital economies. We look forward to hearing from potential fellows in these nascent specialities and learning more about the impact of their work.
You can also find information about the current work and interests of the Center’s Faculty Directors, which help energize the Center, in their bios here.
Community Principles, Policies, and Resources:
The Berkman Klein Center community, and how we interact with one another, is governed by norms and policies developed and maintained by Harvard University and Harvard Law School.
The Harvard Law School Community Principles, found in the Handbook of Academic Policies, read as follows:
“The Law School’s commitments to fairness, respect for the rule of law, and free inquiry require an environment of trust and mutual respect, free expression and inquiry, and a commitment to truth, excellence, and lifelong learning. Students, program participants, faculty, staff, and alumni accept these principles when they join the Harvard Law School community and thereby agree to respect the rights, dignity, and differences of others, pursue honesty and integrity in dealing with all members of the community in person and online, and accept personal responsibility in these efforts.”
Note that the Handbook has other sections applicable to BKC activities, notably the policies on Academic Honesty and Protest and Dissent.
The Berkman Klein Center maintains a page to highlight these policies, as well as other applicable policies and resources for accessing additional University support.
Eligibility and Qualifications
We invite applications from people whose work on the Internet and society may overlap with ongoing work at the Berkman Klein Center and may expose our community to new opportunities and approaches. We welcome applications from people who feel that a year as a fellow in our variegated community would accelerate their efforts and contribute to their ongoing personal and professional development.
We encourage applications from scholars, practitioners, innovators, engineers, artists, and others committed to understanding and advancing the public interest. Fellows come from across the disciplinary spectrum and different life paths.
- Some fellows are academics. For the 2024-2025 year, we invite academics who are post-docs or professors to apply. This year we will accept applications from PhD students and candidates as well.
- Some fellows are practitioners who have built their careers outside of academia, including technologists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, policymakers, activists, journalists, educators, and others from various sectors and callings.
- Many fellows wear multiple hats and straddle different pursuits at the intersections of their capacities. Fellows might be starting, rebooting, driving forward in, questioning, or pivoting from their established careers.
- For the 2024-2025 year, we will prioritize and select for fellows who have a demonstrated record of contributing to public and scholarly conversations in their area of study.
- Fellows are committed to spending their fellowship in concert with others, guided by a heap of kindness, a critical eye, and generosity of spirit.
The fellowship selection process is a multi-dimensional mix of art and science, based on considerations that are specific to each applicant and to the composition of the full fellowship class. Please visit our FAQ to learn more about our selection criteria and considerations.
International applicants: We work with the Harvard International Office (HIO) to sponsor immigration paperwork for our eligible international fellows. An outline of the visa application process and requirements may be found on the HIO website at: http://hio.harvard.edu/scholar-visa-process.
For PhD Students/Candidate Applicants:
People who are pursuing their PhDs and are selected as fellows will receive a stipend of $5,000 for the year of their fellowship. This is intended to support any additional research/ travel costs associated with the fellowship.
For All Others (i.e. individuals not enrolled in a PhD program):
There are two pathways for all other applicants (i.e. those who are not enrolled in a PhD program) to be considered for the fellowship program through the open call.
Option 1: Applicants Seeking Funding from Berkman Klein Center
The Berkman Klein Center has a limited pool of funding to support fellows, and funded fellowships, whether partial or full, are extremely competitive.
Some 2024-2025 fellows will have another source of funding during the fellowship year and rely upon the Center’s funding to help offset the higher cost of living in the Cambridge/Boston area and/or other incremental costs associated with the fellowship. A small number of 2024-2025 fellows will receive funds from the Center to cover the full costs of their fellowship year. Please note that the latter is extremely rare, and we anticipate offering very few fellowships with stipends of $50,000 or greater in the 2024-2025 academic year.
- Partial: For those applicants requiring funding to defray costs, you will be asked to indicate the amount that you are seeking for a partial stipend up to $10,000.
- Full: For those applicants requiring funding to cover the full costs, you will be asked to indicate the amount that you are seeking for a full stipend up to $75,000.
Applicants seeking funding, whether partial or full, are expected to indicate whether or not their ability to accept a fellowship is contingent upon receiving those funds.
Option 2: Externally-Funded Applicants
Each year, some of our fellows bring their own funding support, through means such as a grant, a scholarship, sabbatical, or the like. Over the course of the 2024-2025 academic year, people whose fellowships are externally funded will have the opportunity to request up to $5,000 from the Center to cover costs incurred for their fellowship research and travel costs for presentations/conferences related to their fellowship research. Unlike individuals in the categories above, the stipend amount is not fixed but dependent on the actual cost incurred and may only be applied to research-related costs.
Some important formalities: please note that fellowships through this open call are not considered employment, and fellows will not be entitled to severance pay or layoff benefits upon culmination of the fellowship.
If one is based in the United States but is not a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card” holder), one’s immigration status must allow for the receipt of a fellowship stipend.
Fellows are responsible for tax reporting on their stipends.
More information about fellowship stipends issued through Harvard University may be found here.
Time Commitment: The 2024-2025 fellowship program will run from September 1, 2024–August 31, 2025. Fellows are expected to be free of the majority of their regular commitments so that they may fully devote themselves to the work outlined in their application, though we recognize that fellows bringing their own funding might have specific commitments due to their funding arrangements, and that those pursuing a PhD will participate in the activities of their academic programs.
Location: 2024-2025 fellows will be required to be in Cambridge, MA from September 2024–May 2025. During the time spent in Cambridge, they will primarily work from the Harvard University campus and the Berkman Klein Center offices. We welcome fellows to spend the summer months—June, July, and August 2025—at the Center, but this is not required for the program.
Applications will be accepted until Monday, January 22, 2024, at 11:59pm Eastern Time.
Applications will be submitted online through the Berkman Klein Application Tracker at: http://brk.mn/2425apply.
Instructions for creating an account and submitting an application through BKC’s Application Tracker may be found here.
PDF attachments you will be required to upload include the following. Please consider this information carefully and ensure your attachments meet these requirements:
- A current resume or C.V.
- A personal statement that responds to the following questions. Responses to each question should be between 250-500 words; the personal statement should not exceed 1500 words total.
- What is the research you propose to conduct during a fellowship year? Please
- describe the problems are you trying to solve;
- outline the methods which might inform your research; and
- tell us about the public interest and/or the communities you aim to serve through your work.
- Why is the Berkman Klein Center the right place for you to do this work? Please share thoughts on:
- what kinds of activities you would conduct to engage other fellows and the broader BKC community;
- how the opportunity to engage colleagues from different backgrounds—with a range of experiences and training in disciplines unfamiliar to you—might stimulate your work; and
- the skills, connections, and insights you are uniquely suited to contribute to the Center’s community and activities.
- How does your personal background inform and influence your research?
- What is the research you propose to conduct during a fellowship year? Please
- A PDF of 1-3 work samples for a public audience, such as articles, op-eds, events, etc. Ideally, these should connect to the project proposal in some way, or help to demonstrate the feasibility of the project proposal. Please submit these samples as one combined PDF. Do not include more than three samples; we will only review the first three samples.
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