Non-Resident Fellowships – Digital Civil Society Lab

About the fellowship

Applications for the 2020 Non-Resident Fellowship opened on August 26, 2019 with a submission deadline of September 30, 2019.
 

The Non-Resident Fellowship supports social sector leaders to dedicate time to working on ideas that apply to broad swaths of civil society but that may not quite fit into their “day job.” The fellowship provides time, space, expertise, and financial support to help turn ideas into prototypes or action, and to build a cohort of fellows to support ongoing learning and community.

All fellows will receive:

  • A $20,000 stipend, paid at the beginning of the fellowship, to support work on a year-long project.
  • A week-long in-person convening of the cohort on the Stanford campus, January 20-24, 2020. 
  • Travel support to cover the cost of attending the January 2020 week-long convening.
  • Project support up to $5,000 to support additional project-related travel and expenses as appropriate.
  • Mentorship from fellowship directors and access to fellowship alumni from previous cohorts.

Guidelines

Each fellow will pursue a project or set of activities of their own design over the course of the fellowship. Applicants pursuing projects that are already in progress, as well as projects that may not be fully completed within one year, are eligible to apply.

Fellows are expected to engage as a cohort with the other Non-Resident Fellows as well as with Stanford postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and student researchers.

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.

Selection Criteria

The selection process will take into consideration the following criteria:

  • Potential impact
    • Does the project address a question or challenge that is broadly relevant across civil society?
    • Will the project contribute significant new knowledge or create substantial positive change?
    • Does the Fellow demonstrate a deep understanding of the issue their project addresses?
    • Will the Fellow and the project benefit from engagement with an academic research community?
  • Quality of project proposal
    • Is the project plan thoughtful and well-articulated?
    • Have potential risks and challenges received adequate consideration?
    • Are goals, timelines, and deliverables realistic?
    • Has the applicant identified potential partnerships that will catalyze the project?
  •  

Timeline: 2020 cohort

  • August 26, 2019: Application period opens
  • September 30, 2019: Application period closes
  • October 2019: Judging process and interviews of short-listed candidates
  • November 2019: Fellowship recipients announced
  • January 2020: Cohort begins with weeklong convening at Stanford University from January 20-24

Topics

All applicants are responsible for designing, proposing, and implementing projects of their choice within the purview of one of two fellowship tracks:

Track 1: Digital Civil Society

 Fellows will be primarily affiliated with the Digital Civil Society Lab (DCSL) at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. DCSL fellows will join CCSRE fellows for orientation week in January 2020 and will work closely together as part of the same cohort throughout the yearlong fellowship term.

The digital age has expanded the potential for civil society while presenting new challenges and threats to its healthy operation. Our dependencies on digital software and infrastructure that are commercially built and government surveilled require new insights into how these digital systems work and how we can safely and ethically engage them for civil society’s purposes.

Previous DCSL fellows have built online tools for understanding privacy regulations, drafted new data governance mechanisms, and incubated a digital security exchange. Learn about the current and former cohorts of DCSC Non-Resident Fellows.

DCSL fellowship projects should be designed to:

  • address a challenge of safe, ethical, and effective digital data governance or practice that is common to nonprofits and civic associations globally
  • produce a prototype, draft or complete product in one year
  • benefit from access to scholarship and researchers
  • have a plausible plan for post-fellowship implementation and support
  • be shareable and open for discussion, adaptation, promotion and reuse during and after the fellowship period

The challenges that the DCSL fellows work on are of their own design, but should fit into one of four focus areas: 

  • Software and hardware designed for the values and interests of civil society actors
  • Organizational practices that align with civil society missions and protect institutional independence from markets or governments
  • Legal practices and regulatory frames that protect the fundamental building blocks of civil society, including free association, speech, and privacy
  • Social norms and practices that promote safe and ethical data collection, generation, and use

This year, we are particularly interested in individuals and projects that will address issues related to:

  • Governance of data and artificial intelligence (from perspective of civil society)
  • Racial equity and technology
  • Technological approaches to protecting civil society actors or institutions
  • Public policies that influence digital civil society
  • Associational life in an automated society
  • Corporate cryptocurrency and civil society

 

Track 2: Race and Technology

This year, between one and three fellowships will support fellows working on a challenge related to racial equity. These fellows will be hosted by the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity in partnership with DCSL and the Stanford Institute of Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. These fellows will join DCSL fellows for orientation week in January 2020 and will work closely together as part of the same cohort throughout the yearlong fellowship term.
 

As part of their project, these fellows will have the opportunity to work with undergraduate students to assist on the project in conjunction with a Spring quarter course on Digital Civil Society taught by DCSL Director, Lucy Bernholz. Fellows could also have the opportunity to work with summer interns to support their project full-time for 8-10 weeks. Finally, fellows could also assist in designing a Race and Technology Action Summit, bringing together practitioners and scholars to address pressing racial equity challenges related to technology.

Eligibility

The Non-Resident Fellowship is open to applicants 18 years of age or older who meet the following conditions:

  • Meet all submission deadlines and submit the application in English;
  • Commit to spend twelve months undertaking a project addressing one of two topical tracks: Digital Civil Society, or Race and Technology;
  • Commit to contribute a final written report, video or audio interview;
  • Commit to attend a week-long convening of the fellowship cohort at Stanford University, January 20-24, 2020. This week involves an introduction to the Lab and its research goals and activities, opportunities to meet other communities on campus, independent time to interact with scholars and research institutes on campus and in the area, and the development of individual year-long work plans. Fellows are encouraged to engage with and imagine/identify additional collective activities for their cohort.
  • Please note that your initiative cannot involve a political campaign or legislative lobbying efforts.
 

How to apply

Interested applicants should complete the online application during the application window. 

During the application process you will be asked to submit:

  • cover letter
  • resume or CV
  • brief project proposal
  • contact information for two professional references

Questions

Inquiries may be directed to Laura Seaman, Associate Director of the Digital Civil Society Lab.