The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is now accepting fellowship applications for the 2023-2024 academic year through our open call. This opportunity is for scholars who wish to spend 2023-2024 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 2023-2024 program is detailed below.
We look forward to bringing together an exceptional cohort of fellows in the coming year!
Applications will be accepted until Monday, January 9, 2023, at 11:59pm Eastern Time.
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 Statement
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 have the opportunity to engage this far-reaching network through events, listserv dialogues, reading groups, joint projects, and more.
Areas of Interest for 2023-2024
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 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, at 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 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 2023-2024 year, we invite academics who are post-docs or professors. Please note that in the 2023-2024 academic year we are not welcoming students into our fellowship cohort. (We will spend the year focused on supporting Harvard students through other types of programming, and may solicit applications from students from other institutions through other efforts, such as our research sprints.)
- 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 2023-2024 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.
Commitment to Diversity
The work and well-being of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society are profoundly strengthened by our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, ability, and more. We actively seek and welcome applications from people of diverse backgrounds, including Black, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic, and Latino/Latina/Latinx people; LGBTQIA+ people; non-binary people; women; people with disabilities; people at intersections of these identities; and people from and working across the spectrum of disciplines.
Stipend: There are two pathways for people to be considered for the fellowship program through the open call: those who apply for funding from the Berkman Klein Center, and those who apply supported by external funding.
- Berkman Klein Center funding: the Center has a limited pool of funding to support fellows. BKC funded fellows appointed through the open call for applications are eligible to receive stipends of $75,000 annually. The first half of the stipend is guaranteed to cover the first half of the year. We will conduct a mid-year review with fellows to share feedback, review engagement, and check in on progress on research and, provided scholars are on track, at this stage we will clear the way for funding for the second half of the year. For 2023-2024, we anticipate offering three fully-funded fellowships.
- External funding: these applicants bring their own funding support, through means such as a grant, a scholarship, sabbatical, or the like. The Berkman Klein Center will complement this funding with an additional stipend of $10,000 that can be used for living, travel, and research expenses. For 2023-2024, we anticipate offering at least three externally funded fellowships.
Applicants may opt to be considered under both funding pathways.
Research support: Fellows will have the option to hire a part-time Harvard University student research assistant during the duration of their appointment. Wages for research assistants of up to $2,500 for the year will be paid by the Berkman Klein Center.
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 2023-2024 fellowship program will run from September 1, 2023 – August 31, 2024. 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.
Location: 2023-2024 fellows will be required to be in Cambridge, MA from September 2023-May 2024. 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 2024 – at the Center, but this is not required.
Access to University Resources
Office and Meeting Space: Fellows will be provided shared office spaces. We endeavor to provide comfortable and productive spaces for coworking and flexible use. Fellows are supported in their efforts to host small meetings and gatherings at the Berkman Klein Center (BKC) and in space on the Harvard campus. BKC’s office is wheelchair accessible, and our bathrooms are gender-neutral.
- Library Access: All fellows will be provided with access to Harvard’s extensive libraries and research facilities.
- Courses: Fellows may audit classes across Harvard University; however, they must individually ask for permission directly from the professor of the desired class.
- Campus Resources: Fellows are welcome and encouraged to connect with Harvard University’s countless research centers, initiatives, resource groups, associations, organizations, and specialized offices.
Harvard Health Insurance and Harvard Housing: Fellows selected through the open call are not eligible to purchase health insurance through Harvard University. They are eligible to use Harvard University housing services.
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.
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 affiliate 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.” While some of the information in the report is outdated, it provides very good insights into the opportunities a BKC fellowship provides.
More information about fellows selection and the application process can be found on our Fellows Program FAQ.
As well, people in our community are terrific resources. During a previous fellows hour, community members noted that they would be happy to serve as points of contact for prospective applicants. We encourage you to reach out to Berkman Klein community members about life at the Berkman Klein Center. Contact information for people in the community may be found on bio pages on our site. Additional reflections about the BKC fellowship experience from fellows of yore may be found here.
If you have questions not addressed through the above resources, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications will be accepted until Monday, January 9, 2023, at 11:59pm Eastern Time.
Applications will be submitted online through the Berkman Klein Application Tracker at: http://brk.mn/2324apply.
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 three 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:
- 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.
Applicants should ensure that their names are included on each page of their application materials.
Application questions you will be asked to answer directly within the Application Tracker:
- Title of your fellowship proposal
- Does your research align with one of the areas of interest outlined in the call for applications? This initial selection will help us to support building connections among fellows and between fellows and ongoing work at BKC, but is of course not meant to constrain future research and exploration.
- Is there a Berkman Klein Faculty Director whose research or teaching interests align with yours? If so, please select the Director from the list.
- If you selected a particular Faculty Director, please briefly describe how your work and interests connect to that Director’s. [optional]
- Current primary affiliation or organization
- In what sector do you primarily work?
- If from within academia, what will your status be during the 2023-2024 year?
- What is your primary discipline?
- If you have one, what is your secondary discipline? [optional]
- Country of national origin
- Current country of residency
- In the 2023-2024 year, we expect that fellows will approach their fellowship and its research as a full-time job. How will you fund your fellowship?
- If you will have external funding, please describe the source and associated commitments. [optional]
- Previous involvement in Berkman Klein Center programs [optional]
- Any additional information you’d like to share with us [optional]
- Demographic data [optional]
If contacted for an interview and requested, applicants should be prepared to share reference letters from two references. Reference letters are not required as part of the initial submission of an application.
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