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The Wilson Center Fellowships

The Center awards approximately 20-25 residential fellowships annually to individuals with outstanding project proposals in a broad range of the social sciences and humanities on national and/or international issues. Topics and scholarship should relate to key public policy challenges or provide the historical and/or cultural framework to illuminate policy issues of contemporary importance.

Eligibility
  • Citizens or permanent residents from any country (foreign nationals must be able to hold a valid passport and obtain a J1 Visa)
  • Men and women with outstanding capabilities and experience from a wide variety of -backgrounds (including government, the corporate world, professions, and academia)
  • Academic candidates holding a Ph.D. (Ph.D. must be received by the application deadline of October 1)
  • Academic candidates demonstrating scholarly achievement by publications beyond their doctoral dissertations
  • Practitioners or policymakers with an equivalent level of professional achievement
  • English proficiency as the Center is designed to encourage the exchange of ideas among its fellows

Ineligibility
  • Applicants working on a degree (even if the degree is to be awarded prior to the proposed fellowship year)
  • Proposals of a partisan or advocacy nature
  • Primary research in the natural sciences
  • Projects that create musical composition or dance
  • Projects in the visual arts
  • Projects that are the rewriting of doctoral dissertations
  • The editing of texts, papers, or documents
  • The preparation of textbooks, anthologies, translations, and memoirs
Notes on Eligibility
You do not need an institutional affiliation to apply. For most academic candidates, a book or monograph is required. Scholars and practitioners who previously held research awards or fellowships at the Wilson Center are not precluded from applying for a fellowship. However, the nature and recency of the prior award may be among the factors considered during the selection process, and by the Fellowships Committee of the Board of Trustees.

Selection Process
Fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis. External interdisciplinary panels of distinguished scholars and practitioners assess the applications. The panels’ recommendations are presented to the Center’s Fellowships Committee of the Board of Trustees, composed of public officials who serve ex officio, citizens appointed by the President of the United States, and citizens from the private sector. The Fellowships Committee of the Board of Trustees makes the final decisions on selection.

The basic criteria for selection are:
a) significance of the proposed research, including the importance and originality of the project;
b) quality of the proposal in definition, organization, clarity, and scope;
c) capabilities and achievements of the applicant and the likelihood that the applicant will accomplish the proposed project;
d) the relevance of the project to contemporary policy issues.

The Center welcomes in particular those projects that transcend narrow specialties and methodological issues of interest only within a specific academic discipline. Projects should involve fresh research-—in terms of both the overall field and the author’s previous work. It is essential that projects have relevance to the world of public policy, and fellows should want, and be prepared, to interact with policymakers in Washington and with Wilson Center staff who are working on similar issues.

Themes
The Center devotes significant attention to the exploration of broad thematic areas.

Primary themes are:
  • governance, including such issues as the key features of the development of democratic institutions, democratic society, civil society, and citizen participation;
  • the U.S. role in the world and issues of partnership and leadership—military, political, and economic dimensions; and
  • key long-term future challenges confronting the United States and the world.
While the Center does not engage in formulating actual policy, priority will be given to proposals related to these themes and intersecting with crucial public policy issues. Within this framework, the Center also welcomes projects that provide the historical and/or cultural context for some of today’s significant public policy debates.

Fellows’ Responsibilities
The Center’s “scholars in residence” are so in both name and fact. Fellows are expected to work from their offices at the Center and to participate in appropriate meetings organized by the Center. Fellows are also expected to present their research at our informal internal Work-in-Progress seminars, and to attend the Work-in-Progress presentations given by their colleagues. In addition, fellows are encouraged to make a more formal presentation to the public such as a colloquium, seminar, workshop, or other form of meeting. The Center expects all fellows to seek ways to share their expertise with the Washington policy community. The form of such interaction could range from a deep background briefing for an executive branch agency to an informal roundtable discussion with members of Congress and their staffs.
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