The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is now accepting fellowship applications for the 2017-2018 academic year through our annual open call. This opportunity is for those who wish to spend 2017-2018 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 some of the Internet’s most important and compelling issues.
Applications will be accepted until Monday January 16, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.
We invite applications from people working on a broad range of opportunities and challenges related to Internet and society, which may overlap with ongoing work at the Berkman Klein Center and may expose our community to new opportunities and approaches. We encourage applications from scholars, practitioners, innovators, engineers, artists, and others committed to understanding and advancing the public interest who come from — and have interest in — countries industrialized or developing, with ideas, projects, or activities in all phases on a spectrum from incubation to reflection.
Through this annual open call, we seek to advance our collective work and give it new direction, and to deepen and broaden our networked community across backgrounds, disciplines, cultures, and home bases. We welcome you to read more about the program below, and to consider joining us as a fellow!
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.”
Inspired by our mission statement, the Berkman Klein Center’s fellowship program provides an opportunity for some of the world’s most 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 faculty directors, employees, 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 help build and extend new perspectives and actions out into the world.
A non-traditional appointment that defies any one-size-fits-all description, each Berkman Klein fellowship carries a unique set of opportunities, responsibilities, and expectations based on each fellow’s goals. Fellows appointed through this open call come into their fellowship with a personal research agenda and set of ambitions they wish to conduct while at the Center. These might include focused study or writing projects, action-oriented meetings, the development of a set of technical tools, capacity building efforts, testing different pedagogical approaches, or efforts to intervene in public discourse and trialing new platforms for exchange. Over the course of the year fellows advance their research and contribute to the intellectual life of the Center and fellowship program activities; as they learn with and are influenced by their peers, fellows have the freedom to change and modify their plans.
Together fellows actively design and participate in weekly all-fellows sessions, working groups, skill shares, hacking and development sessions, and shared meals, as well as joining in a wide-range of Berkman Klein Center events, classes, brainstorms, interactions, and projects. While engaging in both substance and process, 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 a fellowship experience, the fellowship program, and the Berkman Klein community. As well, the Center works to support our exemplary alumni network, and beyond a period of formal affiliation, community members maintain ongoing active communication and mutual support across cohorts.
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 include (but are not limited to) economic growth and opportunity, health, fairness, security, privacy, access to information, regulation, politics, and democracy. As fields of Internet and society studies continue to grow and evolve, and as the Internet reaches into new arenas, we expect that new areas of interest will emerge across the Center as well. We look forward to hearing from potential fellows in these nascent specialities and learning more about the impact of their work.
We welcome applications from people who feel that a year in our community as a fellow would accelerate their efforts and contribute to their ongoing personal and professional development.
Fellows come from across the disciplinary spectrum and different life paths. Some fellows are academics, whether students, post-docs, or professors. Others come from outside academia, and are technologists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, policymakers, activists, journalists, educators, or other types of practitioners from various sectors. 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. Fellows are committed to spending their fellowship in concert with others guided by a heap of kindness, a critical eye, and a 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 that also consider the composition of the full fellowship class. Please visit our FAQ to learn more about our selection criteria and considerations.
To learn more about the backgrounds of our current community of fellows, check out our 2016-2017 community announcement, read their bios, and find them on Twitter. As well, other previous fellows announcements give an overview of the people and topics in our community: 2015-2016, 2014-2015, 2013-2014.
Commitment to Diversity
The work and well-being of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society are profoundly strengthened by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, disability, and much more. We actively seek and welcome people of color, women, the LGBTQIA community, persons with disabilities, and people at intersections of these identities, from across the spectrum of disciplines and methods.
While we embrace our many virtual connections, spending time together in person remains essential. In order to maximize engagement with the community, fellows are encouraged to spend as much time at the Center as they are able, and are expected to conduct much of their work from the Cambridge area, in most cases requiring residency. Tuesdays hold particular importance–it is the day the fellows community meets for a weekly fellows hour, as well as the day the Center hosts a public luncheon series; as a baseline we ask fellows to commit to spending as many Tuesdays at the Center as possible.
Fellowship terms run for one year, and we generally expect active participation from our fellows over the course of the academic year, roughly from the beginning of September through the end of May.
In some instances, fellows are re-appointed for consecutive fellowship terms or assume other ongoing affiliations at the Center after their fellowship.
Stipends and Access to University Resources
Berkman Klein fellowships awarded through the open call for applications are rarely stipended, and most fellows receive no direct funding through the Berkman Klein Center as part of their fellowship appointment.
To make Berkman Klein fellowships a possibility for as wide a range of applicants as possible, in the 2017-2018 academic year we will award a small number of stipends to incoming fellows selected through our open call for applications. This funding is intended to support people from communities who are underrepresented in fields related to Internet and society, who will contribute to the diversity of the Berkman Klein Center’s research and activities, and who have financial need. More information about this funding opportunity can be found here.
There are various ways fellows selected through the open call might be financially supported during their fellowship year. A non-exhaustive list: some fellows have received external grants or awards in support of their research; some fellows have received a scholarship or are on sabbatical from a home institution; some fellows do consulting work; some fellows maintain their primary employment alongside their fellowship. In each of these different scenarios, fellows and the people with whom they work have come to agreements that allow the fellow to spend time and mindshare with the Berkman Klein community, with the aim to have the fellow and the work they will carry out benefit from the affiliation with the Center and the energy spent in the community. Fellows are expected to independently set these arrangements with the relevant parties.
Office and Meeting Space
We endeavor to provide comfortable and productive spaces for for coworking and flexible use by the community. Some Berkman Klein fellows spend every day in our office, and some come in and out throughout the week while otherwise working from other sites. Additionally, fellows are supported in their efforts to host small meetings and gatherings at the Center and in space on the Harvard campus.
Access to University Resources
Library Access: Fellows are able to acquire Special Borrower privileges with the Harvard College Libraries, and are granted physical access into Langdell Library (the Harvard Law School Library). Access to the e-resources is available within the libraries.
Courses: Berkman Klein fellows often audit classes across Harvard University, however must individually ask for permission directly from the professor of the desired class.
Benefits: Fellows appointed through the open call do not have the ability to purchase University health insurance or get Harvard housing.
Additional Information about the Berkman Klein Center
The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is dedicated to exploring, understanding, and shaping the development of the digitally-networked environment. A diverse, interdisciplinary community of scholars, practitioners, technologists, policy experts, and advocates, we seek to tackle the most important challenges of the digital age while keeping a focus on tangible real-world impact in the public interest. Our faculty, fellows, staff and affiliates conduct research, build tools and platforms, educate others, form bridges and facilitate dialogue across and among diverse communities. More information at https://cyber.harvard.edu.
To learn more about the Center’s current research, consider watching a video of the Berkman Klein Center’s Faculty Chair Jonathan Zittrain talking about Why the Internet Matters from fall 2016, and check out the Center’s most recent annual reports.
Don’t Take Our Word for It
Those who have come through the program have shared reflections on their experiences, and provide great insights and specifics from an insider’s view.
– Sara Watson
– Nathan Matias
Frequently Asked Questions
To hear more from former fellows, check out 15 Lessons from the Berkman Fellows Program, a report written by former fellow and current Fellows Advisory Board member David Weinberger. The report strives to “explore what makes the Berkman Fellows program successful…We approached writing this report as a journalistic task, interviewing a cross-section of fellows, faculty, and staff, including during a group session at a Berkman Fellows Hour. From these interviews a remarkably consistent set of themes emerged.”
More information about fellows selection and the application process can be found on our Fellows Program FAQ.
If you have questions not addressed in the FAQ, please feel welcome to reach out Rebecca Tabasky, the Berkman Klein Center’s manager of community programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Required Application Materials
(1.) A current resume or C.V.
(2.) A personal statement that responds to the following two questions. Each response should be between 250-500 words.
- 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:
- 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;
- which perspectives you might seek out to help you fill in underdeveloped areas of your research; and
- what kinds of topics and skills you seek to learn with the Center that are outside of your primary research focus and expertise.
(3.) A copy of a recent publication or an example of relevant work. For a written document, for instance, it should be on the order of a paper or chapter – not an entire book or dissertation – and should be in English.
(4.) Two letters of recommendation, sent directly from the reference.
Apply for a 2017-2018 Academic Year Fellowship Through Our Open Call
The application deadline is Monday January 16, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.
Applications will be submitted online through our Application Tracker tool at:
Applicants will submit their resume/C.V., their personal statement, and their work sample as uploads within the Berkman Klein Application Tracker. Applicants should ensure that their names are included on each page of their application materials.
Recommendation letters will be captured through the Application Tracker, and will require applicants to submit the names and contact information for references in advance of the application deadline. References will receive a link at which they can upload their letters. We recommend that applicants create their profiles and submit reference information in the Application Tracker as soon as they know they are going to apply and have identified their references – this step will not require other fellowship application materials to be submitted at that time.
Instructions for creating an account and submitting an application through the Application Tracker may be found here.
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