Breakthrough Generation

Applications for Breakthrough Generation 2015 are now closed. Please check back in the fall for details about Breakthrough Generation 2016. 

Breakthrough Generation Fellows have produced research and reports covered in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Time magazine. Above, Generation fellows past and present at the 2013 Breakthrough Dialogue. 

Generation is Breakthrough Institute’s young scholars initiative, founded in 2007 to foster the development of a new generation of thinkers and writers capable of finding pragmatic new solutions to today’s greatest challenges in the areas of energy, economy, and environment.

Every summer from June to August, Generation offers a small number of paid, highly competitive, ten-week fellowships to recent college graduates and postgraduates from around the world.

The first two weeks are dedicated to Breakthrough Bootcamp, an intellectual crash course involving intensive reading, writing, and an expert lecture series designed to provide a grounding in the broad-spectrum thinking that informs Breakthrough's policy agenda. Topics covered include modernization theory, social psychology, aspirational politics and philosophy, economics and innovation policy, and technology policy.

The full syllabus of Breakthrough Bootcamp can be dowloaded here.

Breakthrough Fellows were invited to tour the Advanced Light Source (ALS) research facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories in August 2012.

For the remainder of the fellowship, fellows work in small teams divided between three program areas: Energy & Climate, Conservation & Development, and Economic Growth & Innovation. Supervised by policy staff, fellows produce policy white papers, reports, and memos. Previous projects (for a full list, click here) have been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Law and Policy Journal, among others, as well as in Congressional testimony.

In addition to research and analysis, fellows attend the Breakthrough Dialogue - a superb opportunity to interact with the wider Breakthrough community as well as attend talks, debates, and working groups within Breakthrough’s different program areas. Throughout the summer, fellows are offered a range of visits to other think tanks and institutions in the Bay Area, as well as social events and a weekend camping trip.

2013 Fellows at Mono Lake on the Breakthrough Generation camping trip.

Over 60 young experts and analysts have completed Generation since its inception in 2007 and moved on to important positions in government, academia, and the nonprofit sector. Together with career support from the Breakthrough staff and the wider network of Senior Fellows and associates, the fellowship makes for many avenues to embark on an exciting career. To see what some of the former fellows are doing now, click here.



Breakthrough Generation

Cutting-edge policy research at one of the country's most intellectually challenging think tanks. Fellowship and friendships that last a lifetime. A connection to a wide community of Breakthrough Senior Fellows. 

For questions, contact generation [at]

"May be the single most positive influence on my young adult life." 

— Danny Spitzberg, MS, Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009

"This fellowship challenged me to become more critical of my own beliefs and those of my peers, making me a stronger person and thinker going forward. The fellows in my year, both through their intellectual chops and their compassion, all gave me hope for the future of environmentalism, and I'm grateful that we were able to work together this early in our careers."

— Dina Abdulhadi, BS, Ecology & Anthropology, University of Georgia, 2013

"The intellectual rigor and the real-world pragmatism of Breakthrough Generation Fellows give me hope."

— Mark Sagoff, George Mason University