Innovating new policy solutions

To innovate new policy solutions, researchers need unrestricted funding that gives them the freedom to pursue novel ideas.

Recent research indicates that unrestricted fellowships funding “people, not projects” are more likely to accelerate scientific innovation, relative to restricted research grants. For example, recipients of fellowships awarded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which “tolerates early failure, rewards long-term success, and gives its appointees great freedom to experiment,” are 96 percent more likely to produce breakthrough research, relative to grantees of the National Institutes of Health, who are “subject to short review cycles, predefined deliverables, and renewal policies unforgiving of failure” (Azoulay et al 2011). Observers have called for increased use of unrestricted fellowships to increase “research autonomy and risk taking” in science (Cowen and Collison 2019).

The Social Science Research Council works with funding partners to design and administer fellowship programs that foster the innovation of new policy solutions to meet our most pressing needs.


Arnold Ventures Criminal Justice Innovation Fellowships

The Arnold Ventures Criminal Justice Innovation Fellowships support post-doctoral fellows who are pursuing policy-relevant causal research designed to innovate and evaluate cost-effective and scalable policy solutions that advance the efficacy and equity of criminal justice practices. Fellows receive salaries of $120,000 with benefits and annual salary increases for up to three years.
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All Fellowships:

African Peacebuilding Network Fellowships

The African Peacebuilding Network (APN) fellowships support independent African research on conflict and peacebuilding on and around the African continent. Through both individual and working group fellowships, the APN fellowships support the local innovation of policy solutions with direct impact on peacebuilding initiatives in Africa.
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Arts Research with Communities of Color Fellowships

The Arts Research with Communities of Color post-doctoral fellowships support ethnographic research on arts organizations in communities of color, advancing a thriving and more equitable ecosystem of community arts organizations.
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Just Tech Fellowships

The Just Tech fellowships support diverse cohorts of creators as they imagine and build more just, equitable, and representative technological futures, pursuing innovative technological solutions that advance social, political, and economic rights. Fellows receive two-year awards of $100,000 annually, supplementary funding packages to subsidize additional expenses, and seed funding to work on collaborative projects with other Just Tech Fellows.
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Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Fellowships

The Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa fellowships support doctoral students in Africa as they explore, develop, and evaluate innovative solutions to local challenges. Through dissertation proposal, research, and completion fellowships, the Next Gen Africa fellowships support the next generation of knowledge creators on the African continent.
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