Burning questions fellowship


Closing date-31 May 2019

Fellowship awards key information

  • The fellowships are meant primarily for academic researchers (including independent scholars) interested in helping to address negative impacts of global industrial food animal production (especially in low- and middle-income countries). Persons from large prominent research organizations can also apply.
  • All applicants must hold PhD/doctoral degrees or be enrolled in PhD/doctoral programs.
  • Early career as well as senior academics are equally welcomed to apply.
  • There are no restrictions as to applicants’ residence / citizenship / location.
  • The award period is four months.
  • A single individual or a team of 2-4 researchers can apply for one fellowship award.
  • For each round a total of three awards are available, one in each category:
    • Category 1: One US$15,000 award for a single individual enrolled in a PhD/doctoral university program.
    • Cateogry 2: One US$20,000 award for a single individual with a PhD/doctoral degree.
    • Category 3: One US$25,000 award for a team of two to four researchers that has at least one person with a PhD/doctoral degree.
  • Fellowships are awarded twice each year: Spring/Summer round, and Fall/Winter round.
  • The main task of a fellow during the award period is to prepare one Guidance Memo (4,000 – 6,000 words) in plain language:
    • Guidance Memos are documents prepared specifically to assist front-line persons who are the end users, written from the perspectives of academics.
    • Topics addressed in Guidance Memos must be directly relevant to the “burning questions”.
    • Guidance Memos’ primary objective: To provide sound information and clear explanations that deepen front-line persons’ understanding of the issues addressed; to highlight key considerations that they may not be aware of; to offer practical advice that helps their decision-making and work.
  • Also required from a recipient of a fellowship award are:
    • An annotated bibliography of 3-15 publications that are relevant to the content in the Guidance Memo.
    • A short personal narrative on the experience working on the Guidance Memo.

Why offer this program? What is its purpose?

  • For academic researchers:
    • There are academic researchers interested in the negative impacts of global industrial food animal production – from PhD candidates to senior scholars – who would like their research to be of practical use and value to the real world. They want to pick issues that are important to actual persons, to increase the chance that their research is used by those mostly likely to benefit from it. But they face challenges.
      • It is not always obvious what these real world needs are. And it is not easy to find out.
      • Disseminating and making accessible their research findings to those who need them may pose another conundrum. (The traditional approach is that researchers decide what to study and let their peers know about the findings; it is up to others to take care of how these findings are spread and applied outside academe.)
      • Furthermore, academic researchers are often not incentivized or rewarded for work intended primarily to serve societal needs.
    • The fellowship awards provide academic researchers with concrete opportunities to prepare short plain language documents that shed light on front-line persons’ “burning questions”. The program also communicates these documents to front-line persons on behalf of the researchers. Fellows can also use the award period to undertake work that advances their own research but related (or unrelated) to deliverables required by the program.
  • For front-line persons:
    • The program is also aimed at benefiting front-line persons. It offers them academic research findings, perspectives, and suggestions relevant to questions they themselves have asked. These succinct documents in plain language (“Guidance Memos”) are made available to them within months of their completion.
    • It takes a number of years for research projects focused specifically on the burning questions to be put in place and the results to be reported. But front-line persons urgently need to acquire as much understanding of the issues they are actively grappling with as possible. They need “something” from academic researchers that they can readily use in the meantime. And the Guidance Memos can serve as stopgaps. It is also not reasonable to ask front-line persons to devote an inordinate amount of time to locate and digest dense academic journal articles even if these papers contain information and insights that are useful to them.
  • For more information and application link


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