Breakthrough Generation is the Breakthrough Institute's young leaders initiative, through which we train and collaborate with the next generation of ecomodernist thinkers, writers, and scholars.
At Breakthrough, we believe paradigm shifts are a generational affair. Solving the world's major environmental and human development challenges will occur over decades and will not advance through old and outmoded forms of thinking and action. As we continue to host and expand the ecomodernist school of thought, Breakthrough is committed to investing in young thinkers and practitioners, who we believe can create a secure, prosperous, and ecologically vibrant future for all the world's inhabitants.
Every summer from June to August, we offer a small number of paid ($600 per week), highly competitive, ten-week fellowships to young professionals from around the world. The program is designed for graduating college seniors, young professionals, and students in the early stages of their post-graduate education.
Breakthrough Generation fellows join us in our Berkeley offices for a summer and remain a permanent part of our network in the pursuit of pragmatic solutions to the world's greatest challenges in the areas of energy, food and farming, human development, and the environment.
The first two weeks of the summer 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.
For the remainder of the fellowship, fellows work in small teams divided between the program areas: Climate & Energy, Food & Farming, or Cities. Supervised by research staff, fellows produce policy white papers, reports, and memos. Previous projects 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 — an opportunity to interact with the leading thinkers, writers, and scholars in the study of society and the environment — and additional talks, debates, and working groups within Breakthrough’s different program areas.
Alumni of the Breakthrough Generation program have gone on to work in academia, journalism, philanthropy, government, and low-carbon innovation and finance. Our fellows have gone on to work with Google, the World Economic Forum, Princeton, the Clean Air Task Force, the Property and Environment Research Center, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Third Way, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Energy for Growth Hub, and other leading institutions.
How To Apply
Who can apply?
Final-year undergraduates, college graduates, and postgraduates are eligible to apply for the fellowship. Fellowships are open to applicants from any country.
How do I apply?
Applications are now closed.
When is the application deadline?
We are no longer accepting applications for our 2022 fellowship.
When will I hear back?
We review applications as they come in, but we do not make final decisions about acceptances until after the final deadline. You will hear back from us within two to four weeks after the application deadline. There are two rounds of phone interviews before final decisions are made.
When and where does Breakthrough Generation take place?
Breakthrough hosts the Generation Fellowship in our Berkeley, California office. All fellows and staff must be fully vaccinated.
Please indicate at the top of your cover letter which of the three research areas you wish to be considered for: Climate & Energy, Food & Farming, or Cities
Please limit your resume or CV to two pages maximum.
Three Writing Samples
1) A 500-1000 word argumentative essay or op-ed (does not have to be published) on a subject of your choice that demonstrates an ability to make a focused argument in a clear, convincing, and accessible way. This writing sample is evaluated for evidence of critical thinking and general writing skills. For examples of opinion pieces written by Breakthrough staff, see here, here, and here.
2) A research paper, preferably between 15-20 pages. This does not need to have been published but should demonstrate an ability to research and analyze a subject in more depth. It is recommended, but not required, that the topic of the research paper be relevant to the program area you are applying to.
3) An additional writing sample of your choosing — this can be an opinion piece, a research paper, a policy memo, or any other piece of writing that complements the first two samples.
Please submit a minimum of three professional references with contact information.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation are welcome but not required. Recommendations will only be accepted if the author of the letter, not the applicant, sends the letter directly to Breakthrough. Letters should be attached to your application or sent separately to fellowships [at] thebreakthrough [dot] org with the subject “[Last Name] Generation Application References”
Any other questions or concerns?
Please email fellowships [at] thebreakthrough.org.
Breakthrough Institute is an equal opportunity employer.