The Joan Shorenstein Fellowship

The Joan Shorenstein Fellowship Program is designed to provide journalists, scholars, politicians and policymakers with an opportunity for reflection. A Fellowship offers busy professionals the time and resources needed to think, research, and write on issues central to our media and politics.

The primary focus of a fellow is to research and write a paper on a media/politics topic.  The Shorenstein Center strives to create an environment for fellows to do their best work, with faculty support, weekly discussion meetings with peers, and all the resources that Harvard has to offer, including world-class libraries and leading experts on a vast array of subjects.

During the semester fellows will attend regular events hosted by the Center, including thought-provoking speakers from the media and social gatherings. Fellows leave the Center having made lasting friendships and important professional connections.

It is our hope that fellows come away from their time at the Shorenstein Center having contributed to the field in a substantive way, and having embraced all the opportunities and activities that present themselves on a daily basis as a part of Harvard University. In an era when the noise of the constant news cycle leaves little time for reflection, the Shorenstein Center’s Fellowship Program aims to provide the space to think critically about our media and its role in our society; to shape the debate and understand which questions deserve the most attention; and to create a vibrant and long-lasting community of scholars and practitioners dedicated to meeting the challenges faced by our institutions.

Who should apply?

Since 1986, the Fellowship Program has brought hundreds of journalists, scholars and politicians from around the world to the Center. Past fellows include journalists from local, national and international TV, radio, print, and digital media; media and civic technology innovators; nonfiction authors; political advisors and policymakers; leading academic scholars in fields such as media research and political science; and policy analysts.

Successful former fellows have come from a variety of backgrounds and career stages. The Shorenstein Center is committed to diversity, and actively encourages applications from all demographic backgrounds, and across the political spectrum.

Am I eligible?

Applicants for Shorenstein Fellowships must be a working journalist, politician, scholar or policymaker currently or recently active in the field. The guidelines below offer further detail; however, if you unsure if you are eligible we encourage you to contact our staff to discuss further.

  • Journalist: Reporters, editors, columnists, producers, media business executives and related, with a minimum of five years of full-time experience either at professional news organizations or as a full-time freelancer (not including work completed as a university student).
  • Politician: Someone who has campaigned and been elected to a national or high-level state office, or communications professionals within politics and policy, e.g. speechwriters, press secretaries.
  • Scholar: Tenured or tenure-track professor employed by a college, university or research institution in political science, political communication, journalism, international political communication, or a field relevant to the Shorenstein Center’s areas of inquiry.
  • Policymaker: High-level official in a cabinet office or adviser to a candidate for national office.

Applicants should not have participated in another fellowship within the two years prior to their preferred semester.

Applicants must be fluent in English – listening, reading, writing and speaking. Non-native English speakers must provide TOEFL or IELTS score.

What is expected of a fellow?

Applicants must be available to be in residence, full-time, for one semester (September through December or February through May) in Cambridge, MA. Unfortunately we cannot consider requests for remote or nonresidential fellowships.

The Fellowship is a full-time appointment, and applicants are expected to commit to the work of completing their primary research project and engaging in the life of the Center, its activities and events. It is understood that busy modern professionals will have occasional essential obligations, and the Center aims to be considerate and flexible in such circumstances. However, any applicant with professional, personal or travel commitments that would require significant time away should consider applying when their schedule allows for the full commitment of a fellowship.

What will I be working on?

The primary deliverable for a fellow is a research paper in a style similar to a magazine essay, journal article or book chapter examining the influence of the media on politics or public policy in the domestic or international arena. Fellows’ papers are published on the Shorenstein Center website, and many have been cross published or excerpted in a variety of high-profile media outlets and academic journals, or have become the basis for a longer book. The quality and originality of an applicant’s research proposal is a key deciding factor in their potential selection.

Fellows who are journalists, policymakers or other practitioners will often seek to write papers that represent provocative or speculative arguments designed to stimulate debate among the wider community. Fellows who are university scholars usually write a paper based on original research with a well-supported and fully-documented conclusion.

Financial assistance and other resources

Fellows receive a stipend of $30,000, paid in monthly installments at the end of each month over the 4-month semester. Travel and living expenses are not covered by the Shorenstein Center.

Fellows are provided with a workstation in the Shorenstein Center fellows’ suite, a computer, phone, Harvard email address, and a Harvard ID allowing access to libraries and other resources.

Fellows are also able to select a paid Harvard Kennedy School student research assistant (eligible to work up to 10 hours per week) to work on their projects.

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