The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is now accepting fellowship applications for the 2020-2021 academic year through our annual open call. This opportunity is for those who wish to spend 2020-2021 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 Friday, January 31, 2020, 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 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 help build and extend new perspectives and actions back out into their home networks, communities, and fields.
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 technical tools, capacity-building, testing 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.
In addition to each fellow’s personal research agenda, 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 join 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 topics of interest at the Center include (but are not limited to): Education, Libraries, & Digital Humanities; Ethics and Governance of AI; Governance of Technology & the Internet; Internet Health; Justice, Equity, & Inclusion; Media, Democracy, & Public Discourse; Privacy & Security; and Technology & the Law. A list of the Center’s Faculty Directors’ bios, which include information about their work, may be found here.
As fields of Internet and society studies continue to grow and evolve, and as the Internet reaches into new arenas, new areas of interest emerge across the Center. 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 as a fellow in our variegated community 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 including technologists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, policymakers, activists, journalists, educators, or other 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 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.
To learn more about the backgrounds of our current community of fellows, check out their bios and find them on Twitter. As well, previous fellows announcements give an overview of the people and topics explored in our community: 2019-2020, 2018-2019, 2017-2018, 2016-2017, 2015-2016, 2014-2015, 2013-2014.
Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
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, ability, and much more.
We have taken a multidimensional approach to addressing diversity, inclusion, and belonging across all areas of our work, including in networks, collaborations, and capacity building; community programs; research agenda; forum for dialogue; and participatory publications. More information about the Center’s approach to diversity and inclusion may be found here and additional Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging resources across Harvard University are here.
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.
During their fellowships, fellows are expected to live in Cambridge or elsewhere in the Greater-Boston area.
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 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; fellows should expect to commit to spending as many Tuesdays at the Center as possible.
Fellowship terms for fellows appointed through the open call run for one year, from September 1 through August 31.
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 2020-2021 academic year we will award a small number of stipends to incoming fellows selected through our open call for applications.
This funding will be awarded to select 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 may 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.
Office and Meeting Space
We endeavor to provide comfortable and productive spaces 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. Fellows are supported in their efforts to host small meetings and gatherings at the Center and in space on the Harvard campus. Our office is wheelchair accessible. Our bathrooms are gender-neutral.
Access to University Resources
Library Access: Fellows are able to acquire Borrowing Card privileges with the Harvard College Libraries, and are granted physical access into Langdell Library (the Harvard Law School Library).
Courses: Fellows often audit classes across Harvard University, however 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 appointed through the open call are not eligible to purchase health insurance through Harvard University, nor are they eligible for Harvard University 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 giving a lunch talk from Fall 2018, and check out the Center’s 2018-2019 Year in Review.
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.
As well, people in our wonderful community are terrific resources. During a recent fellows hour, current 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.
Required Application Materials
(1.) A current resume or C.V.
(2.) 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;
which perspectives, topics, and skills you might seek to learn and connect with to help you fill in underdeveloped areas of your research; 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?
(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 as PDFs.
(5.) A number of research-based selections/questions to respond to directly in the Application Tracker. These include:
The selection of two topic areas explored at the Berkman Klein Center that resonate with the applicant’s interests and research. 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. The topic areas from which to choose: Education, Libraries, & Digital Humanities; Ethics and Governance of AI; Governance of Technology & the Internet; Internet Health; Justice, Equity, & Inclusion; Media, Democracy, & Public Discourse; Privacy & Security; and Technology & the Law. More about the Center’s approach to these topics may be found at https://cyber.harvard.edu/topics
Applicants may name a Faculty Director with whom they have a shared research or teaching interest and briefly describe how their work connects to that Director’s. Any strong mutual interest between applicants and Directors will be one of many factors taken into consideration during the review process. Naming a Faculty Director is optional. All of the Berkman Klein Center Faculty Directors’ bios and links may be found here.
Faculty Directors make final decisions about fellow appointments and participate in the review process. Please do not reach out to them while developing your application to seek their advance advice on or approval of your application.
For Applicants Requesting Financial Support:
In addition to submitting materials and responses asked of all applicants, applicants requesting financial support will submit responses to the following questions into the application tracker:
(1.) If you would like to be considered for a stipend, what range of funding do you request?
Select one of the following:
(2.) Would you be able to accept a non-stipended fellowship offer?
Select one of the following:
(3.) To be answered with a written response, up to 250 words:
Please describe non-Berkman Klein funding or employment that might support you during your fellowship, and provide other information that would allow us to assess your need for funding. We understand that you may not know what the outcomes of any such efforts will be at the time of answering this question.
Apply for a 2020-2021 Academic Year Fellowship Through Our Open Call
The application deadline is Friday, January 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.
Applications will be submitted online through the Berkman Klein Application Tracker at: http://brk.mn/2021apply
All attachments must be submitted through the Application Tracker as PDFs.
Applicants will submit their resume/C.V., personal statement, and work sample as PDFs uploaded to 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, which requires 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 as PDFs. 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. Recommendation letters should be received from the references by the application deadline.
Within the Application Tracker, applicants will select the two topics of Berkman Klein study that resonate with them; as well, in the Application Tracker applicants will have the optional opportunity to list a Faculty Director of interest.
Applicants requesting financial support will submit responses directly into the Application Tracker.
Instructions for creating an account and submitting an application through the Application Tracker may be found here.