Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) Fellowship Program 2020 (Funding available)

Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) Fellowship Program 2020 (Funding available)

Deadline: June 15, 2020

The Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) is accepting applications for its ICWA Fellowship Program 2020. ICWA wants to cultivate deep expertise in foreign countries and cultures. They achieve that by supporting fellows for two-year immersive programs of self-designed, independent study abroad.

This is a writing fellowship. Fellows are required to produce monthly dispatches made available on the ICWA website and email to institute supporters and other interested parties, including family, friends and professional associates of the fellows. Fellows work closely with the executive director, who serves as writing coach, editor and mentor.

While many fellows go on to pursue political or social causes at home and abroad, the purpose of a fellowship is to learn about other societies, not to change them. Fellows are not permitted to engage in overtly political activities during their fellowships. The institute does not accept any government funds. Fellows must preserve that independence in letter and in spirit.

Fellows should not expect to return to the United States during the two years of their fellowships. ICWA fellowships are immersive; a vital component of the fellowship experience is remaining, without interruption, in the area of study for the duration of a fellowship.

Financial Support

  • ICWA provides full financial support for its fellows and their immediate, accompanying families.
  • Fellows do not receive salaries; the institute gives them sufficient funding to cover their expenses, enabling them to fulfill the purposes of the fellowship and allowing them and their families (if accompanying the fellowship) to live in good health and reasonable comfort. “Full financial support” does not mean unlimited financial support; fellows are expected to live and spend modestly.


  • Candidates must be under 36 years of age at the time of the due date for the initial letter of interest.
  • U.S. citizenship is not a requirement, but candidates must show strong and credible ties to U.S. society.
  • Applicants must have excellent written and spoken English-language skills and must have completed the current phase of their formal education. (They do not accept applications from currently enrolled undergraduate students.
  • They expect candidates to have the necessary language skills to allow to them to carry out their proposed projects. That means enough language proficiency for candidates to be able to function in the local language within a few months of arriving in country.

Project Requirements

A proposed fellowship must hold the promise of enriching public life in the United States by enhancing the understanding of foreign countries, cultures and trends. Public service, social activism or contribution to wider understanding in the United States is their ultimate purpose, from a belief that the public can benefit from the knowledge and wisdom their fellows acquire.

Given their interest in achieving wide geographic distribution over time, they generally are less inclined to select projects in countries where they currently or very recently have had fellows. They are naturally drawn to areas of the world and topics that are less well understood and are relevant to the United States.

Candidates are encouraged to browse ICWA’s archives to see the kind of projects that the institute has supported.

  • Fellowships are not scholarships. They do not support degree programs at universities, the writing of books or research projects aimed at answering specific questions in a particular academic discipline.
  • While they expect candidates to design projects of topical interest, fellowships are not aimed at covering news events. They do not send fellows into war zones, or places where intense security concerns prevent them from interacting with the local populace.
  • ICWA weighs all proposals with no restrictions on topics or regions. However, applicants are especially encouraged to propose examining any of the following topics:
    • Threats to peace and security
    • Rights and lives of marginalized people and societies
    • Environment, climate change, sustainability and conservation
    • Culture and society (literature, art, film, etc.)
    • Post-conflict societies
    • The effects of technology and innovation on society
    • Youth and activism
  • And the following regions and countries:
    • South America (especially Venezuela and Brazil)
    • Cuba
    • Eurasia (especially Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia)
    • Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea)


Those interested in applying for an Institute of Current World Affairs Fellowship should send an initial Letter of Interest and a resume or CV in English to the institute via email at [email protected] (Post is also accepted.)

In your letter of interest, tell them what you would do if you had a two-year, self-designed fellowship overseas and why you’re the right person to carry it out. There is no fixed length for the letter of interest. Please indicate your age, as applicants must be under the age of 36 at the time that the letter of interest is due.

The strongest applicants will be invited to submit a more detailed application. Selected fellows are expected to depart for their fellowships within six months of their selection.

For applications via post:

Institute of Current World Affairs
1818 N St. NW, Ste 460
Washington, DC 20036

For more information, visit ICWA Fellowship.