Apply for the Joan Shorenstein Fellowship

Please read the following information and scroll to the bottom of the page to apply.

Background

Since the Shorenstein Center’s founding in 1986, the Fellowship Program has been central to its mission examining the intersection of media, politics and public policy. The purpose of the Joan Shorenstein Fellowship Program is to advance research in the field of media, politics and public policy; facilitate a dialogue among journalists, scholars, policymakers and students; and provide an opportunity for reflection.

View past Fellows and their work.

About the Joan Shorenstein Fellowship Program

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.

Life as a Shorenstein Center fellow

In addition to their primary research project, fellows participate in a range of activities throughout the semester.

Fellows begin their time at the Center with a series of orientation activities and welcome events, including a reception to introduce themselves to the Kennedy School and wider Harvard community. Fellows can hold office hours with students throughout the semester, and meet with fellows and faculty from other areas of the School.

Fellows are given a workstation in the Center’s offices to use as a home base, with a laptop computer. The Center’s office has a kitchen, lounge areas and private phone booths available for use. Many fellows have enjoyed spending time working across the Harvard University campus, particularly its historic libraries which offer vast collections of books and rare materials as well as a convivial place to work.

On Mondays, fellows gather with faculty and their peers for a weekly lunch meeting in which they present their research to the group to discuss progress, argue the case for their theses, listen to feedback, and shape the direction of their papers. Tuesdays feature the Center’s popular Speaker Series, bringing high-profile journalists to campus to engage in lively Q&A discussions on timely news topics, followed by a private lunch with fellows.

The Center hosts several high-profile evening events each semester, including its long-running Theodore H. White Lecture on Press and Politics, Richard S. Salant Lecture on Freedom of the Press, and its flagship Goldsmith Awards featuring the presentation of a prize for the best investigative reporting of the year, and a career award for excellence in journalism.

Elsewhere on campus, the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum frequently features speakers from the highest levels of government for lively discussion and debate. The Kennedy School’s other Centers and initiatives regularly host experts in a wide variety of topics, and Shorenstein Center fellows are often asked to speak. And the wider Harvard University calendar features hundreds of activities and events each week, including lectures, panels, exhibitions, music, theater, film, sports and much more. Occasionally, fellows have audited courses, although this is dependent on the instructor’s policies, capacity, and the fellow’s own busy schedule.

Fellows receive a Harvard ID, which allows for discounted membership to Harvard’s athletic facilities as well as tickets to museums, exhibitions, movies, sports and the performing arts. Previous fellows have used their free time to explore the rich cultural and historical offerings of the Boston and New England area. Several fellows have brought their partners, spouses or families with them for the semester, many of whom get involved in a variety of Harvard activities open to the public.

Application deadlines

  • Fall Semester (September – December): March 1
  • Spring Semester (February – May): August 23

Apply

Currently accepting applications for Spring 2020 semester. Deadline August 23, 2019.

Selection timeline

Fall Semester

  • March 1: Application deadline
  • Mid-March: Applicants or their references may be contacted for further information or interview. This is strictly informational; not all applicants or their references will be contacted and this should not be considered a sign of the success or otherwise of their application.
  • By early April: Applicants will be notified of their status.
  • Summer: The press release announcing the class of fellows will be posted.

Spring Semester

  • August 23: Application deadline
  • Mid-September: Applicants or their references may be contacted for further information or interview. This is strictly informational; not all applicants or their references will be contacted and this should not be considered a sign of the success or otherwise of their application.
  • By early October: Applicants will be notified of their status.
  • End of Year: The press release announcing the class of fellows will be posted.

Questions? Contact Susan Mahoney at susan_ocitti@hks.harvard.edu or (617) 495-8345.

Funding

This fellowship honors Joan Shorenstein Barone and is supported by the generosity of the Shorenstein family, the Jessie B. Cox Trust, the Gardner Cowles Trust, and the Goldsmith Fund of the Greenfield Foundation. Additional funding for fellowships provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the A.M. Rosenthal Writer-in-Residence endowment, and individual donors.