Digital Civil Society Lab

Postdoctoral Fellowship


The following information applies to applications for the 2023-24 cohort of postdoctoral fellows. The application cycle for this cohort will open on December 16, 2022 and will close on February 3, 2023. 

The Digital Civil Society Lab brings promising new scholars to Stanford University for 1 year appointments (renewable once, for total of two years) as postdoctoral fellows.  

Each fellow will be primarily affiliated with the Digital Civil Society Lab, and potentially cross-affiliated with a department or school at Stanford University depending on the fellow’s specific disciplinary focus.

The annual fellowship stipend is $75,000, plus the standard benefits that postdoctoral fellows at Stanford University receive, including health insurance and travel funds. The fellowship program falls under U.S. Immigration J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa activities.

The start date of the fellowship will be September 2023, unless otherwise agreed. To assume a postdoctoral fellowship, scholars must have a PhD in hand by July 1, 2023. We cannot consider applications from scholars who earned a PhD earlier than September 1, 2020.

We encourage applications from candidates representing a broad range of disciplines including the social sciences, humanities, law, computer science and engineering.  

About the Digital Civil Society Lab

Digital technologies are transforming civil society and democracy. Our dependencies on digital systems require new insights into how these technologies work and how civil society can engage them safely, equitably, purposefully, and in support of human dignity and collective action.

The Digital Civil Society Lab (DCSL) aims to understand and inform civil society in a digitally dependent world. We engage scholars, practitioners, policy makers and students across four interconnected domains that shape a thriving and independent digital civil society:  organizations, technology, policy, and values.

Our approach is multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral, and global in scope. We research the challenges and opportunities that digital infrastructures, software, and hardware present to civil society and its building blocks including freedom of assembly, association, speech and privacy. We develop collaborations between the social sector, scholars and policy makers to support a thriving and independent digital civil society.  We advance innovative teaching opportunities for practitioners and students to understand and imagine solutions to civil society’s challenges in a digitally dependent world. 

Our current research agenda is structured around four thematic clusters: 

  • Giving in a datafied world: This research cluster explores the shifting landscape of formal and informal philanthropic giving in a datafied world, from crowdfunding to donating our digitized personal data. 
  • Digital Infrastructure for the Public Interest: This research cluster expands awareness of software, hardware, protocols, and governance mechanisms that serve public interests and promote democratic principles.  
  • Digital Assembly and Association:  This research cluster investigates how digital systems bound our opportunities for gathering and associating online and offline for community, civic, and political action. 
  • Decolonizing Digital Ecosystems: This research cluster explores the origins and meaning of current calls to decolonize digital ecosystems and examines their implications for research, design, regulation, and advocacy 

Through fellowships, research, events, and teaching, we nurture an emerging generation of scholars, community advocates, technologists, and policymakers shaping the future of digital  

Please note: Postdoctoral fellows at DCSL are expected to participate fully in a biweekly seminar series at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and are expected to contribute to teaching the Digital Civil Society seminar in partnership with other DCSL faculty, scholars, and postdocs. 

The Lab is a research initiative of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS). It is led by Lucy Bernholz, senior research scholar at Stanford PACS; Rob Reich, professor of political science and faculty co-director of Stanford PACS; and Toussaint Nothias, research scholar at Stanford PACS.

For a sense of the scholarship that DCSL supports see:

Questions about the Digital Civil Society Lab should be directed to Rebecca Abella or Toussaint Nothias


  • December 16, 2022: Application period opens
  • February 3, 2023: Application period closes
  • February, 2023: Interviews with shortlisted candidates
  • March, 2023: Offers extended to finalist(s)

How to apply

To be considered for a postdoctoral fellowship with the Digital Civil Society Lab, submit an application via the online application portal. 

 Applicants will be asked to include the following: 

  • Cover letter detailing the reasons for the applicant’s interest in the fellowship; 
  • Curriculum Vitae; 
  • Fellowship proposal detailing the research that the applicant would undertake while at Stanford, and how it fits within the research agenda of the specific initiative to which the applicant is applying. In this section, please disclose if you have additional funding arrangements. 
  • Writing sample consisting of either a dissertation chapter or a recent published paper. There are no specific page length or formatting requirements for this sample; 
  • Graduate transcript with proof that the applicant has completed all the requirements for the PhD, or a letter from their PhD advisor stating when they will do so; 
  • Two (or more) Letters of Recommendation. These should be submitted via the application portal.  

Stanford University is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer, committed to increasing the diversity of its workforce. It welcomes applications from women, members of minority groups, veterans, persons with disabilities, and others who would bring additional dimensions to the university’s research and teaching mission