Open Society Fellowship
Applicants for the Open Society Fellowship are invited to address the following proposition:
New and radical forms of ownership, governance, entrepreneurship, and financialization are needed to fight pervasive economic inequality.
This proposition is intended as a provocation—to stimulate productive controversy and debate—and does not necessarily represent the views of the Open Society Foundations. Applicants are invited to dispute, substantiate, or otherwise engage with the proposition in their submissions. Though the proposition deals with economic issues, those without an economics or business background are welcome to apply, provided they have a relevant project in mind.
Once chosen, fellows will work on projects of their own design and passion. At the same time, they are expected to take advantage of the intellectual and logistical resources of the Open Society Foundations and contribute meaningfully to the Foundations’ thinking. Fellows will also have opportunities to collaborate with one another as a cohort. It is hoped that the fellowship will not only nurture theoretical debate but also bring about policy change and reform.
Ideal fellows are specialists who can see beyond the parochialisms of their field and possess the tenacity to complete a project of exceptional merit. Proposals will be accepted from anywhere in the world, although demonstrable proficiency in spoken and written English is required. Applicants should possess and demonstrate a deep understanding of the major themes embedded within the proposition above and be willing to work in a cohort of fellows with diverse occupational, geographic, and ideological profiles. Successful applicants should be eager to exploit the many resources offered by the Open Society Foundations and be prepared to engage constructively with our global network.
The fellowship does not fund enrollment for degree or nondegree study at academic institutions, including dissertation research.
This is a fellowship for individuals only; proposals from organizations or individuals acting on behalf of organizations will not be accepted.
Purpose and Priorities
The Open Society Fellowship was founded in 2008 to support individuals pursuing innovative and unconventional approaches to fundamental open society challenges. The fellowship funds work that will enrich public understanding of those challenges and stimulate far-reaching and probing conversations within the Open Society Foundations and in the world.
Open Society fellows produce work outputs of their own choosing, such as a book, journalistic or academic articles, art projects, a series of convenings, etc. In addition, fellowship cohorts may develop a joint work product of some sort. Fellowship staff will assist cohorts in brainstorming possible outputs if needed.
Applicants are asked to submit a letter of inquiry online through our grants portal by February 4, 2019. Any questions may be directed to email@example.com.Apply Online
Complete guidelines are available in the Download Files section on this page.
Applicants will receive a response within six weeks of submission. Inquiries showing promise will be invited to submit a full proposal. We strongly discourage re-submitting unsuccessful letters of inquiry. Unfortunately, we do not have the staff capacity to provide specific feedback on all inquiries.
Download the complete fellowship guidelines.
Download the proposal tips.
Noah Zatz2017Noah Zatz examined how government threats of incarceration force people in the United States into precarious and underpaid work situations, a phenomenon he calls “get to work or go to jail.”
Camilla Toulmin2016Camilla Toulmin’s project documented shifting claims to land and natural resources in the Ségou region of central Mali over the last 35 years.
Elisabeth Caesens2016Elisabeth Caesens was examining hydroelectricity deals and revenue flows in the Democratic Republic of Congo to bring greater transparency and accountability to the country’s mining industry.
Jennifer Daskal2016Jennifer Daskal was investigating efforts by several nations—including the United States, the UK, and Brazil—to gain access to data stored outside their borders for use in criminal investigations.
JingJing Zhang2016JingJing Zhang used legal test cases to strengthen civil society’s ability to ensure Chinese overseas companies’ compliance with environmental laws and international human rights treaties.
Katja Heinemann2016Katja Heinemann, a photographer and longform journalist, was producing a multimedia documentary that investigates the interconnection of migration and social media use among young Afghan refugees in Berlin.
Lican Liu2016Lican Liu was writing a book that will apply an environmental justice approach to the pursuit of environmental protection in China.
McKenzie Funk2016McKenzie Funk, a journalist, wrote a book on how the push for open government in the United States has subjected ordinary citizens to undue scrutiny by federal agencies and private firms.
Bálint Magyar2015Bálint Magyar, a former Minister of Education for Hungary, was looking at several post-communist states, whose actions are warped by the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of corrupt political “families.”
Bama Athreya2019Bama Athreya will develop a long-term communications strategy to help workers in the “gig” economy overcome some of the main structural disadvantages which often go ignored by policymakers.
Luciana Zaffalon2019Luciana Zaffalon will investigate how court and legal systems around the world exacerbate inequality and convert her findings into a toolkit for overcoming structural biases.
Mark Blyth2019Mark Blyth will write a book about policies to mitigate generational inequality and help those in the “bottom 80 percent” of the U.S. economy increase their assets.
Paul Rissman2019Paul Rissman will develop a variety of strategies for pressuring U.S.-based investment advisers into taking actions to mitigate economic inequality.
Raphaële Chappe2019Raphaële Chappe will produce a book and a series of videos to show how the unequal distribution of risk between corporations and individuals helps fuel economic inequality.
Trebor Scholz2019Trebor Scholz will use a multipronged strategy—which includes writing books, engaging with diverse communities, and building new institutions—to promote integrating the cooperative model into the digital economy.
William Lazonick2019William Lazonick will write a book and a series of articles about how a range of harmful corporate behaviors have been legitimized by a philosophy in which maximizing shareholder value is considered as an end in itself.
Zachariah Mampilly2019Zachariah Mampilly will write a book about the rise of social movements throughout Africa focused on democratic reform and combatting economic inequality.