Program on Democracy and the Internet

Postdoctoral Fellowship

In partnership with

About the fellowship

The application cycle for 2022-2023 has closed.

The Program on Democracy and the Internet (PDI) invites promising new scholars to Stanford University for 1 year appointments as postdoctoral fellows, with potential for extension. Fellows will be affiliated with PDI and potentially a department or school at Stanford University. Each fellow will collaborate with one of the PDI faculty on research relevant to their field of study and current line of scholarship. The fellows will spend 80 percent of their time working on their own research and 20 percent assisting in the research of one of the PDI directors.  For examples of past work, see the publications page.  In addition, fellows may be asked to coordinate speaker series and seminars. 

The annual fellowship stipend is $70,000, 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 2022, unless otherwise agreed. To assume a postdoctoral fellowship, scholars must have a PhD in hand by July 1, 2022. We cannot consider applications from scholars who earned a PhD earlier than September 1, 2019.  

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

About the Program on Democracy and the Internet

The Program on Democracy and the Internet (PDI) envisions digital technologies supporting rather than subverting democracy by maximizing the benefits and minimizing the threats through changes in policy, technology, and social and ethical technological norms.

Digital technologies are having a profound impact on democracy in the United States and around the world. New communication platforms that give voice to the previously unheard also empower nefarious actors who seek to undermine democracy, silence journalists and minority groups, manipulate search engines, sow distrust, and more. Concerns about virality, deception, anonymity, echo chambers, and platform information monopolies pose new challenges for democracy in the digital age. Current research to understand these challenges and, on the basis of theory and evidence, craft solutions, remains nascent, fragmented, and incomplete. A strong knowledge base is critical for policy makers, corporate leaders, and technologists to make decisions that protect and promote democracy in the digital age.

The Program on Democracy and the Internet is investigating key research themes which include:

  • Government censorship, propaganda, and information operations on digital media platforms
  • Reform options for platforms to combat hate speech, bots, and disinformation
  • Algorithmic bias
  • Deteriorating health of digital information ecosystems and its effect on democracy and civil rights
  • Changes in the media landscape due to shifts caused by digital innovation
  • Impact of the internet on election campaigns and voting

The Program on Democracy and the Internet’s work draws from the social sciences, humanities, engineering, computer science, and the law to understand the challenges digital technologies pose to liberal democracies around the world.

The program is led by Principal Investigators Nathaniel Persily, James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Co-Director of the Cyber Policy Center, Francis Fukuyama, Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute, and PACS Faculty Co-Director and Professor of Political Science, Rob Reich.

PDI is a joint initiative of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS) and the Cyber Policy Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. 

For a sense of the scholarship that PDI supports, see:

Questions about the Program on Democracy and the Internet should be directed to


  • November 8, 2021: Application period opens
  • January 31, 2022: Application period closes
  • February 2022: Interviews with shortlisted candidates
  • March 2022: Offers extended to finalists

How to apply

To be considered for a postdoctoral fellowship with the Program on Democracy and the Internet, 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 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.