Technology & Human Rights Fellowship

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The Technology and Human Rights Fellowship is part of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy’s project to examine how technological advances over the next several decades will affect the future of human life, as well as the protections provided by the human rights framework.

The project invites applications from individuals to affiliate with the Center for one academic year to conduct research on the ethical and rights implications of technological advancements in general, and artificial intelligence in particular. 

The core tenet of human rights is that power be used to protect and advance the rights of the most vulnerable, and while new technologies can help achieve these goals, there are dangers and challenges in the near and long term, ranging from algorithmic bias to the rise of fake news to even the creation of sentient beings that challenge our notion of what is human. Looking forward, there are technological innovations underway and on the horizon that will raise ethical and policy considerations and dilemmas and will have an impact on a range of human activities, as well as the human body and mind. 

The Center seeks to attract a diverse group of fellows from different disciplines and sectors (academia, business, technology, civil society, human rights organizations, public interest technologists, and independent researchers and practitioners) who would like to design and develop a research project salient to their own expertise and the research priorities of the Center. 

Fellows are encouraged to collaborate with each other and must participate in periodic Zoom calls with Carr Center faculty and other experts. Papers prepared by fellows will be published by the Carr Center and promoted by the Center, and projects of a more practical or applied nature will be presented to a cross-section of experts who will give feedback and ideas for strengthening. 

The Fellowship is an unpaid position that will last for one academic year (September 2020 - June 2021). Fellows may be in residence (with limited shared office space), or virtual. Access to shared office space is also available for those who are based in the Cambridge/Boston area or who may be on a sabbatical or professional leave during this period and we welcome applications from those who want to be in residence. 

Fellows are expected to come to Cambridge, MA once per semester to learn from each other, share their work in progress with the Carr Center and the broader Kennedy School community, and participate as appropriate in presentations, trainings, or workshops. Limited travel subsidies are available for those who need assistance. 

We are encouraging applicants who focus on the following themes: 

  • Ethical Implications of Artificial Intelligence
  • Racial Justice and Technology 
  • Business and Human Rights Principles in the Age of Technology 
  • Human Rights in the Digital Public Sphere 

Application Process

The following items should be included in your application. Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted.

  • Resume/CV
  • Project proposal that outlines the background or context, the nature of the problem, the time horizon for the problem, the proposed nature of your research project or intervention (including how it fits with the Carr Center’s work), the anticipated impact, and your qualifications (up to 3 pages)
  • Executive summary of proposal (up to 200 words)
  • 3 letters of recommendation from individuals who can comment on your ability to complete the proposed project
  • Relevant writing sample (up to 5 pages)
  • A list of prior publications (with links or up to 3 attachments)
  • Indicate on your application if you intend to be residential or non-residential (we have some shared office space for residential applicants)

Applications Due: February 28, 2020, 5:00 PM EST

Timeline and Important Dates

February 28, 2020, 5:00 PM EST
Deadline to submit materials. Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted.

April 15, 2020
Notification of successful applicants

September 10-11, 2020
First convening of Fellows in Cambridge, MA

May 13-14, 2020
Second convening of Fellows in Cambridge, MA

Monthly Scheduling
We will also hold monthly zoom calls, typically on Fridays at 12:00 PM EST. The schedule will be shared with successful candidates.

Required Attendance
Applicants must be able to attend both convenings in Cambridge, MA in order to be considered for the fellowship. Airfare and accommodation will be covered for fellows who require financial support.

The Carr Center receives a large volume of applicants for all of our Fellowship programs. Please do not call or email us with queries for information.




Can I apply if I am not a US citizen?

Yes. Applicants from throughout the world are encouraged to apply. 

I am an independent scholar and not affiliated with an institution. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. You do not need to be affiliated with an academic institution to be eligible to apply.

I work on technology and human rights but I am not an academic. Am I eligible to apply? 

Yes, we are keen to receive applications from a diverse and cross-sector group of applicants, including from human rights organizations, business, technology, and independent think tanks.

Does the Carr Fellowship Program accept group projects?

Yes, we accept group applications of two or three individuals who propose to work on the same project. Each group member should submit an individual application.

Funding & Support

What stipend will I receive if selected as a Carr Fellow?

This is an unpaid fellowship.  Travel and accommodation may be covered for convenings in Cambridge for those fellows who require travel subsidies. Round trip air/train travel will need to be within $500 and accommodation will be provided for one night only.

Is there additional funding or support available?

Select fellows who may need research support can hire HKS students as Research Assistants.  The Carr Center can cover their hourly wages for up to 10 hours/week. Access to HKS library services, including an individualized meeting with a librarian, can be arranged for fellows to help with accessing Harvard's library and information services.  All fellows will receive faculty supervision and feedback on their draft research and will have the opportunity to also receive and provide peer feedback on their work.  For fellows in residence, and for visitors, the Kennedy School provides access to a wide range of talks, events, workshops, and other learning opportunities, most of which are open for all to attend. 

What are the typical activities during the fellowship year?

Fellows conduct research for their project, and present their work-in-progress throughout the fellowship year to their peers and to faculty and other experts, either in the form of a private talk for their cohort or a public lecture.