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Fellows Program

We are now accepting applications for our 2018-19 fellows class.
The deadline to apply is January 15, 2018.
Please direct your inquiries about the fellows program or application process to [email protected].
Questions will not reflect negatively on your application. Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Program

Data & Society is assembling its fifth class of fellows to join us from September 1, 2018. (Please meet our current and past fellows classes here.) Data & Society works towards a future in which the values that shape technology are visible and intentionally chosen with respect for human dignity. We conduct interdisciplinary research and build a field of actors to ensure that knowledge guides development and governance of technology. Our annual fellows program helps ensure that new connections and perspectives deepen and expand our community’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities society faces in a data-centric world.

Data & Society fellows have pursued academic research, written code, created art, brought together communities of activists and practice, run workshops, worked closely with Data & Society’s in-house research team and each other, and much more. Current and past fellows are academics and researchers, artists and activists, coders and technologists, journalists, lawyers, and community organizers concerned with the implications of data-centric technology’s role in reconfiguring society. We are engaged, individually and together, in interrogating and articulating those implications and developing frames that can help society address emergent tensions.

The fellowship is intentionally broad and inclusive of a range of output and engagement. As we build the 2018-19 class, we’re continuing to embrace breadth and diversity, but we are providing some categories to help better guide applicants and to ensure fellows are supported within Data & Society’s programs and productively connected to others in the Data & Society community.

2018-19 Fellowships

For the coming year, we are seeking 8-10 fellows across four categories:

  • Arts and Culture: Artistic and cultural production can advance public understanding of the complexities of data-centric technologies and can drive individual and collective imagining of multiple futures. We are looking for arts and culture fellows who will connect to Data & Society research topics and whose work challenges commonplace narratives running through debate and public discourse around technology.
  • Organizational Bridging: Fellows from other organizations, companies, or public sector entities who are grappling directly with questions around data-centric technologies and automation bring a crucial, practical frame to Data & Society’s work. Bridge fellows will come with a mandate from their organization to explore a particular question or issue during their time at Data & Society and to bring that knowledge back to their home institution. With the fellow, we will actively seek to build a strong relationship over the course of the fellowship between Data & Society and the fellow’s home institution. We’re especially interested in applicants who play a legal or policy role in their home institution.
  • Computer and Data Science: Technical fellows at Data & Society bring a core research question to their time within the organization; they are also looking to explore the social, cultural and political implications of technological choices. Technical fellows may come from academia, industry, civil society, or the public sector. We expect technical fellows will have an advanced degree in computer or data science or equivalent, relevant experience.
  • Faculty Fellows: We are seeking faculty fellows whose Data & Society fellowship project will contribute to an existing, in-house research initiative. In this category, we invite applications from faculty of any rank who are at least three years beyond receipt of their Ph.D. by the start of the fellowship. Eligible fields include the social sciences (anthropology, sociology, political economy, science and technology studies, history, etc.); law, jurisprudence, or policy; business; or a social science or humanistic field as long as the applicant’s work engages the social and cultural implications of data-centric technologies and automation.

Participation & Cohort

While we are prioritizing four kinds of fellows for the 2018-19 year, the core intent of the program has not changed: This is not a fellowship for those who want to spend a year head-down on an independent project. Rather, this is a program for people who are looking for ways to create impact both within and beyond their field, who can see the value of their work within an interdisciplinary community – and on a bigger stage.

Fellows commit to being in residence at the D&S loft in New York City for two days each week. Each fellow, over the course of their fellowship, will pursue a project or set of activities of their own design.

Fellows are also asked to engage with D&S – both at the organizational level and with the broader community. This engagement can take a number of different forms, from organizing small group sessions with visitors, to developing workshops, to working on in-house publications, and much, much more. We ask that all fellows either participate in or lead a monthly reading group, as well as participate in a lightweight round of regular D&S activities designed to strengthen community and research connections. Beyond that, the choice of where and how to participate is part of the fellowship design process between the fellow and D&S staff.

Together with our in-house research team and postdocs, fellows form the annual Data & Society cohort – a group of approximately 45 colleagues who come together as the core of Data & Society’s research and field-building efforts. Beyond the in-house cohort, Data & Society fellows are also connected to past fellows, our affiliates, and a broad field of actors both in New York City and beyond who regularly pass through D&S for workshops, seminars, social gatherings, and talks.

Projects & Themes

Potential fellows are invited to imagine a specific project or set of activities, in one of the four categories above, that they will execute to help society’s understanding of a world permeated by data. Successful fellowship projects inform, convene, intervene, or provoke – with an eye to broader impact. We are open to a wide range of potential outputs, from papers and op-eds to events, code, and art installations. We are also interested in creating connections and exchange between our in-house research and fellows’ projects. We also love it when our fellows experiment with new ideas or stretch our work and network in unexpected directions. We expect that the themes that run through our 2018-19 fellows class will be a combination of the familiar and the unexpected.

Some of Data & Society’s ongoing, in-house research topics include: artificial intelligence; precision medicine and heath; media manipulation and disinformation; the future of labor; human rights, data, and refugee populations; and fairness, accountability, and transparency in technical systems.

Again, we welcome applications that pose entirely new questions and topics and push D&S in new directions, as well as applications that complement and expand our current research themes.

Term

Residency typically runs from September 1 through June 30 of the following year. If you would like to apply for a fellowship but cannot commit to a full term, please flag that in your application, as we may be able to accommodate some variations.

Funding

Fellows commit to two days a week in residence for the full term and are offered a stipend of $25,000, with additional, approved project costs available to them. If we are able to accommodate a fellowship period shorter than ten months, the stipend will be pro-rated on a monthly basis.

All fellows will have access to desks/workspaces, meeting rooms, email addresses, etc., and programmatic and organizational support to advance their work.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, we support fellows in applying for both federal and philanthropic grants, and we work with fellows currently holding grants to craft an appropriate fellowship that allows them to honor commitments to grantors.

While we welcome applications from outside the United States, we are currently unable to support the acquisition of visas. If you are applying from outside the United States and are accepted, you will need to secure your own visa and, depending on your situation, work permit.

Application Process

To apply for a Data & Society fellowship, we’ll ask you to complete an application at Submittable. You’ll be submitting information about yourself and your work to date, including:

  • cover letter;
  • resume or CV;
  • work samples;
  • project summary and brief (1000 word) proposal;
  • names and email addresses of three references.

Note that references will automatically receive an email from Submittable, the application platform, prompting them to submit a letter of reference to Data & Society. Please make sure your references whitelist submittable.com.

First-round applications are due January 15, 2018. Second-round applicants will be contacted for an interview with D&S staff, fellows, and/or advisors, and may be asked for additional information such as project budgets as they move through the review process.

Successful applicants will be notified in the spring, with a public announcement to follow.

If you are interested in applying to be a Data & Society fellow,
please complete the application form at
http://datasociety.submittable.com
by January 15, 2018.

The work and well-being of Data & Society is strengthened by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and much more. We welcome applications from people of color, women, the LGBTQIA community, and persons with disabilities.


FAQ

Can I apply from outside the United States?

Currently, we do not have formal infrastructure or processes in place to support visas. If you would like to apply and are accepted, we can write you a letter saying that you are offered a fellowship, but you will need to secure your own visa and, if seeking funding, work permit.

Can I be a part-time fellow?

Yes, all of our fellows are part-time, committing to two days a week for 10 months for the fellowship. Our fellows run organizations and businesses, write professionally, teach, and much more.

Do I have to live in New York City?

This is an active fellowship that requires time spent in person with the Data & Society cohort. While you don’t need to live in New York City, you will need to live within reasonable travel distance to New York. Fellows are asked, as a condition of the fellowship, to be physically present in the D&S loft in lower Manhattan two days a week. And we encourage fellows to engage more broadly in Data & Society’s programming and events, which span the week. What we’ve found is that living further away tends to preclude many of the interactions that are key to taking full advantage of the fellowship.

What kinds of interactions or collaborations can I expect?

The Data & Society annual cohort (fellows, D&S researchers, postdocs, and visiting scholars) is a rich and diverse group. You will be asked to participate or lead regular programming that brings the cohort together along different thematic and topical lines, facilitating both meaningful discussion and project collaborations. Beyond the cohort, you will be a part of Data & Society’s wider community of affiliates, friends, collaborators, and supporters. While D&S programming is set up to put you in contact with many different people from many different disciplines and professional backgrounds, it will be up to you to turn those interactions into meaningful collaborations. Over the course of our past four fellowship years, we’ve seen this happen more and more, and are happy to support those collaborations as much as we can from an organizational perspective.

Can I work on my thesis/dissertation/book?

The goal of the fellowship program is to support research that is public-facing and focused on making an impact in a broad sense. We are not looking to support academics whose projects are intended solely to speak to academic audiences. Should your thesis/dissertation/book project lend itself to spending a year collaborating with others and working on public-facing outputs, embrace the synergies! But if you’re looking to hunker down and work in isolation to produce academic content, this is probably not the fellowship for you.

Can I work on my company/startup/product idea?

While Data & Society is not an incubator, if what you want to do is dig into the complications and ethical issues related to a company or product you want to launch, there could be a match there. Keep in mind that the fellowship is meant to focus on collaboration and public-facing output, so we’d want to understand what the public interest element of your project would be.

I am a _______. Can I apply?

Probably! We are looking for an interdisciplinary group that brings a mix of backgrounds, methodologies, fields, and professions — not only academics and researchers but also those focused on building code, making policy, and applying practice within a community, among other things.

I applied last year. May I apply again?

Yes. But please do not submit the same project proposal without meaningful rethinking and revision.

When do I hear from you? What is the timeframe for decisions?

The deadline to apply is January 15, 2018. We will begin looking at applications immediately and begin setting up interviews with second-round candidates in February and March, and aim to make fellowship decisions in the spring.

More questions?

Inquiries about the fellowship should be directed to [email protected]. Questions about the opportunity or process will not reflect negatively on an application.