Research Fellowship

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Program Overview

Breakthrough Research Fellowships are awarded to non-resident research collaborators with the Breakthrough Institute’s research program. Launched in 2016, the program offers opportunities to the brightest and most talented thinkers to address unanswered questions related to energy, conservation, agriculture, growth, and innovation, and to change the way society approaches major environmental and development challenges.

Scholars with experience ranging from a Master’s degree to a postdoctoral appointment to a senior professorship may apply. These paid fellowships, completed in collaboration with research staff, advance Breakthrough’s research and reach, fostering partnerships with experts around the world at the cutting-edge of scholarship in these spaces.

For all the progress afforded to humanity by modernization and growth, there remain many unanswered questions. The Breakthrough Institute exists in part to answer these questions, and to change the way society approaches major environmental and development challenges. In service of this mission, we seek to work with the brightest and most talented thinkers on issues related to energy, conservation, agriculture, growth, and innovation. The Research Fellowship allows us to partner with experts all over the world doing cutting-edge scholarship in these spaces.

Research fellows are also invited to join us for our annual Breakthrough Dialogue, an opportunity to interact with the leading thinkers, writers, and scholars in the study of society and environment, as well as attend talks, debates, and working groups within Breakthrough’s different research interests.

How To Apply


Applications for the Breakthrough Research Fellowship 2019 are now open.

Each year, Breakthrough seeks a small number of outstanding researchers and writers for the Breakthrough Research Fellowship. Fellows will submit a research proposal aligned with Breakthrough's interest areas, and work on their project remotely. See below for more information on how to apply.

The Research Fellowship runs for 8 weeks and pays in installments, totaling $5,000 over the course of the Fellowship.

Who can apply?

Applicants interested in the Research Fellowship should possess a Master's degree at minimum and have a well-scoped research proposal. Excellent proposals will define goals, methods, and align with Breakthrough’s interest areas and our mission statement (see details below). If you think your research can contribute to or deepen an ecomodern understanding of society and the environment, then this is an opportunity for you.

How do I apply?

Apply using our online application form found here or at the bottom of this page. You will need to submit a CV/resume, a research proposal, and 1-3 three writing samples. See details below. All uploaded documents must be in PDF format. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

When is the application deadline?

Applications are considered on a rolling basis.

When will I hear back?

Applications are reviewed and interviews conducted over 3-4 weeks after submission. Decisions will be announced within this period.

What is the duration and timing of the program?

Research Fellowships will be completed remotely and are designed to last 2-6 months. Research Fellows are also invited to attend the Breakthrough Dialogue which takes place every June in Sausalito, California. If you have a scheduling conflict with these dates, please do not be discouraged from applying.

Contact Breakthrough staff with any questions and concerns: fellowships [at] thebreakthrough.org

How are Breakthrough Research Fellows compensated?

The Breakthrough Research Fellowship offers a $5,000 stipend to be delivered in installments upon demonstrated progress.


Requirements for Research Fellowship Application

CV/Resume

Please limit your resume or CV to two pages maximum.

Research Proposal

Research proposals will make up the core of the Research Fellowship application. Research proposals should include:

  • A brief summary and literature review of the topic at hand;
  • The goals of the project (what unanswered questions are you addressing?);
  • Type of analysis and methods;
  • Expected results;
  • Indication of your own experience with the subject matter and/or methods;
  • Intended product (peer-reviewed paper or white paper).

Research proposals can be up to 1500 words.

Writing Samples (1-3)

At least one and no more than three writing samples are required for the application. Excellent writing samples will demonstrate familiarity with the subject matter and methods of the research being proposed.

Letters of Recommendation

At least one letter of recommendation is required, preferably from a supervisor who has worked with you on similar or related research in the past. Recommendations will only be accepted if the author of the letter, not the applicant, sends the letter directly to Breakthrough. Letters should be be sent to fellowships [at] thebreakthrough [dot] org.

Breakthrough Institute is an equal opportunity employer.

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