The Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) Fellowship Program
An ICWA Fellowship represents a generous investment in the future of a Fellow. The ultimate aim of the ICWA Fellowship program is to cultivate deep expertise in foreign countries and cultures. We achieve this by supporting a Fellow over a two year period, during which she or he carries out an immersive program of self-designed, independent study abroad.
ICWA’s mission is to identify and cultivate rare potential, so we are looking for promise, curiosity, and enthusiasm in our candidates. We consider whether a candidate is ready for the rapid personal growth that the Fellowship makes possible. Candidates with a passion for their project country and who are sufficiently prepared to take advantage of the opportunity we offer, have the best chance of being awarded an ICWA Fellowship. Extensive professional experience in the proposed area is not always necessary; Fellowships are aimed at developing advanced knowledge and professional skills, not awarding research or reporting opportunities to those who already possess them.
Strong candidates generally propose topics for the Fellowship that are compelling. Given our interest in achieving wide geographic distribution over time, we generally are less inclined to select projects in countries where we currently or very recently have had a Fellow. We are naturally drawn to areas of the world and topics that are less well understood and that are relevant to the United States. These could include thematic Fellowships, for example examining questions related to economic development or the environment that could be effectively pursued using the method of our Fellowships. Candidates are encouraged to browse ICWA’s archives to see the kind of projects that the Institute has supported.
We expect candidates to have the necessary language skills to allow to them to carry out their proposed project. Candidates proposing to go to China, Russia, Indonesia, India, or Brazil, for example, should have proficiency in Chinese, Russian, Bahasa, Hindi (or another relevant language) or Portuguese. It is too costly and time consuming to start from scratch, so we expect enough language proficiency so that candidates are able to function in the local language within a few months of arriving in the country. Exceptions have been made for unusual languages or situations, but these are rare.
Criteria for Consideration
Candidates must be under 36 years of age at the time of the due date for the initial letter of interest.
U.S. citizenship is not a requirement, but candidates must show strong and credible ties to U.S. society. A proposed Fellowship must hold the promise of enriching public life in the United States by enhancing the understanding of foreign countries, cultures, and trends. Public service, social activism or contribution to wider understanding in the United States is our ultimate purpose, out of a belief that the public can benefit from the knowledge and wisdom that our Fellows acquire.
While we expect candidates to design projects of topical interest, Fellowships are not aimed at covering news events. We do not send Fellows into war zones, or places where intense security concerns prevent Fellows from interacting with the local populace.
Fellowships are not scholarships. We do not support degree programs at universities, the writing of books, or research projects aimed at answering specific questions in a particular academic discipline.
Applicants must have excellent written and spoken English language skills and must have completed the current phase of their formal education. We do not accept applications from currently enrolled undergraduate students.
Fellows are required to write monthly newsletters, which are made available through our website to Institute members and other interested parties, including family, friends and professional associates of the Fellows. While the Institute has funded and will continue to fund artists, performers, and others who find various ways to participate in the societies they study, the immediate fruits of the Fellows’ learning are communicated principally through writing. Fellows should be prepared to share their experience with a general, well-educated audience, and not only with specialists in their field. Fellows work closely with the Executive Director, who serves as writing coach, editor, and mentor.
While many Fellows go on to pursue political or social causes at home and abroad, the purpose of a Fellowship is to learn about other societies, not to change them. Fellows are not permitted to engage in overtly political activities during their Fellowship. The Institute does not accept any government funds. Fellows must preserve that independence, in letter and in spirit.
Fellows should not expect to return to the United States during the two years of their Fellowship. ICWA Fellowships are immersive; a vital component of the Fellowship experience is remaining, without interruption, in the area of study for the duration of a Fellowship.
The Institute provides full financial support for its Fellows and their immediate families. “Full financial support” does not mean unlimited financial support, and Fellows are expected to live and spend modestly. The Institute provides Fellows with sufficient funding to allow them and their families to live in good health and reasonable comfort and to fulfill the purposes of the Fellowship.
Donors’ Fellowship: The generous support received from contributors enables ICWA to appoint a Donors’ Fellows every two years. Topics and areas of study are unrestricted.
Fellows with appropriate topics may receive support from specially endowed funds, including:
John Miller Musser Memorial Forest & Society Fellowships offer people with graduate degrees in forestry or forest-related specialities an opportunity to broaden their understanding of the relationship of forest-resource problems to humans, including policy-makers, environmentalists, farmers, scientists and forest-product industrialists.
John O. Crane Memorial Fellowships provide support for study in East Europe and the Middle East.
APPLICATIONS AND DEADLINES
Those interested in applying for an Institute of Current World Affairs Fellowship should send an initial Letter of Interest and a resume to the Institute via email. (Post is also accepted.)
In your letter of interest, tell us what you would do if you had a two-year, self-designed Fellowship overseas and why you’re the right person to carry it out. There is no fixed length for the letter of interest. Take the space that you need to make a cogent case for yourself. Please indicate your age, as applicants must be under the age of 36 at the time that the letter of interest is due.
Selected Fellows are expected to depart for their Fellowship within six months of their selection.
This is a competitive process. The strongest applicants will be invited to submit a more detailed application.
To be considered for the June 2016 Fellowship appointment, letters of Interest are due on March 1, 2017.
Applications are not considered on a rolling basis.
We are unable to respond to all inquiries, but will certainly answer those that fit our Fellowship requirements.
For applications via post:
Institute of Current World Affairs
1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 615
Washington, DC 20036