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Freedom House/WCED Fellowship

Founded in 1941, Freedom House was the first American organization to champion the advancement of freedom globally. Freedom House’s core conviction is that freedom flourishes in democratic nations where governments are accountable to their people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms of expression, association, and belief, as well as respect for the rights of women, minority communities, and historically marginalized groups, are guaranteed. Working as an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world, Freedom House is notable for its nonpartisan character and commitment to maintaining support for its mission among members of both major US political parties.

Freedom House's programs support human rights and democracy advocates in their efforts to promote open government, defend human rights, strengthen civil society and facilitate the free flow of information and ideas. Freedom House primarily assists through grant-giving, emergency support, capacity-building programming, trainings, international exchange programs, and networking activities.

The Freedom House / WCED Fellowship offered through the Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship Program is the cornerstone of the partnership between Freedom House and the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies at the University of Michigan aimed at integrating academic knowledge and the practice of supporting democracy across the world. The partnership will seek to incorporate cutting-edge academic knowledge into Freedom House programming, help collect systematic evidence on its effectiveness, and help steer academic research in the direction of answering questions most relevant for practitioners.

Selected fellows will work together with Freedom House staff to develop a research agenda and a series of tasks in line with the purpose of the fellowship. These tasks may include:

  • creating an annotated bibliography of recent studies on the priority topics aimed at practitioners;
  • contributing to learning sessions for Freedom House staff;
  • developing a research project driven by practitioners’ needs; and
  • participating in an evaluation of a Freedom House program.

The two priority topic areas for the fellowship are:

  1. Human rights monitoring, documenting, and reporting, and
  2. Building civil society networks.

The topics are broadly understood, and the applicants are encouraged to talk about the connection of their own work to these topics, if applicable.

The fellowship is for the Fall semester of 2023 and may be extended through the Winter semester of 2024, conditional on satisfactory performance. Freedom House may also offer fellows contract work in the summer of 2024.

The fellowship is open to U-M doctoral candidates in any discipline who have an interest in research relevant to the practical needs of supporting democracy. The applicants should submit the following documents:

  1. A 1-2 page motivational letter explaining how the applicant’s research interests, background, skills, and future plans connect with the goals of the fellowship; make sure to describe your substantive interests, any regional specialization, and the kinds of methodological skills (qualitative and quantitative) you possess; and
  2. Your CV, including at least 3 professional references.

Most work involved in this fellowship is expected to be remote. Some limited travel to Washington, DC or abroad may be required depending on the specific project the fellow decides to work on. Cost of travel, if needed, would be covered by the program.

To be eligible for consideration for this Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship, students need to have achieved doctoral candidacy and meet the eligibility requirements below:

  • Only Rackham doctoral students who have achieved candidacy are eligible to apply.
  • Students must be in good academic standing and must obtain authorization from their Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) before they submit their application.
  • International students may participate in the program, but will need appropriate work authorization to do so for internship sites off Ann Arbor’s campus. No additional work authorization is typically required for on-campus internship sites, but if international students hold other on-campus positions while completing an internship, they may still need CPT. International students should consult with the International Center to discuss their specific circumstances.
  • International students completing internships off-campus should consult with the International Center to discuss what work authorization and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) course enrollment may be needed in order to participate in an internship well in advance of applying and to discuss CPT. Rackham Intern Fellowships must be relevant to the student’s program of study and career goals. 
  • If you are selected for an internship, you must sign a student agreement, complete a work plan using Rackham’s template, and attend monthly cohort meetings (conducted remotely online) facilitated by Rackham staff during your internship.
  • Students may only receive one Fall or Winter Term Doctoral Intern Fellowship award of any kind (including Student-Identified Awards) during their time as a Rackham student. 
  • Students may receive a Spring/Summer Doctoral Intern Fellowship award in addition to a Fall or Winter term award, but preference in the application process for each term is given to students who have not previously received a Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship. Students may not apply to complete a Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship with the same organization more than once.  

Students with questions about this position or the guidelines or requirements of the Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship Program should email Rackham’s Professional Development and Engagement Team at:

Applicants should NOT reach out to the partner organization directly during the application process.

Applicants should submit their applications on the Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship Application Portal Platform. The deadline is April 10, 2023.