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Credit: Koshu Kunii. https://unsplash.com/photos/BZOUKpla5tE

The Social Science Research Council seeks applicants for the inaugural cohort of its Just Tech Fellowship. 

The Just Tech Fellowship supports and mobilizes diverse and cross-sector cohorts of researchers and practitioners to imagine and create more just, equitable, and representative technological futures. Fellows will identify and challenge injustices emerging from new technologies, and identify solutions that advance social, political, and economic rights.

Fellows receive two-year awards of $100,000 per year, robust supplementary funding packages to subsidize additional expenses, and seed funding to work on collaborative projects with other Just Tech Fellows. The fellowship will provide the space and time necessary for deep reflection, as well as an engaged community and opportunities to facilitate ambitious co-creation.

The Just Tech Fellowship supports the Whole Person

To complete the online application, you will need to provide the following information and documentation:

Expression of Interest (due January 2, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. EST)

Sign up for a public information session on December 1, 3:00 p.m. ET or December 9, 10:00 a.m. ET to learn more.

  • Contact Information: Full name and email address
  • Critical Question: What is the central question you would want to pursue with a Just Tech Fellowship? (300 characters max)
  • Work Statement: In two to three sentences, please describe your work. How does your work focus on the intersection of technology and social justice? (450 characters max)

You must submit an expression of interest to apply for the Just Tech Fellowship.

Submit your expression of interest

Full Application Materials (due January 30, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. EST)

  • Resume/CV: Up to three pages (saved as a PDF file). The application portal will also allow applicants to submit a link to personal web pages.
  • Personal Statement: Applicants should submit a written or recorded (video) personal statement of up to 500 words (written) OR four (4) minutes (video).
  • Work Proposal: Applicants should submit a short proposal for a project focused on the intersection of technology and social justice. 
  • Samples of Work: Applicants are encouraged (but not required) to share up to two (2) samples of relevant work. Visual and audio samples may be linked or uploaded via the application portal.

Overview

New technologies have opened doors to connection, creativity, learning, and justice, but emergent benefits and harms have not been distributed equally. From artificial intelligence to data harvesting to the gig economy, new technology has also ushered in more expansive surveillance and given platforms to hate speech and automated discrimination. 

Investigations into the uneven political and social impacts of technology are not well understood by the general public and are too often left out of policy decisions. And the same communities that have pioneered work to uncover the harms of ill-conceived technological designs are subject to historical and ongoing forms of discrimination and are underrepresented in positions of power.

It doesn’t have to be this way. As the world reckons with a global legacy of systemic discrimination and racial injustice, we have an opportunity to reimagine the limits and potential of new technology and to ensure that both expertise and experiential knowledge inform efforts to produce structural change. 

The Just Tech Fellowship and its fellows seek to build toward technological futures that celebrate and manifest justice, equity, agency, knowledge, and joy.

Just Tech takes a capacious view of “researchers and practitioners.” By supporting a vibrant network that reflects diverse communities and life experiences, Just Tech will identify solutions that protect and expand social, political, and economic justice and challenge persistent inequities.

The Just Tech Fellowship experience will be collaborative, seeking active points of participation as it evolves. Through regular convenings and workshops, as well as through purposeful engagement with external stakeholders and peer organizations, the fellowship will establish lasting personal and professional connections and will offer practical support and learning opportunities matched to the needs and suggestions of the fellows community.

The Just Tech program will administer two-year awards of $100,000 per year, augmented by robust supplementary funding packages to subsidize expenses related to dependent care, health care, workspace, technical equipment, project materials, communications, or other needs. These innovative awards are designed not only to support a researcher’s work but to invest in their entire person and to build a supportive and collaborative community. Fellows may apply for additional funding to seed collaborative projects within or across Just Tech cohorts.

2021 Fellowship Theme: Crisis and Reparation

From Katrina to the Covid-19 pandemic, crises exacerbate social inequalities and have disproportionate effects on historically marginalized populations. Differences in available infrastructure, long-term support, and economic security are made starker amid crises such as disasters, pandemics, violence, and social unrest. And while disasters and other crises are often imagined as singular events, their effects can endure for generations.

Technology can be seen as both the cause of and a solution to crises. Over the last two years, the Covid-19 pandemic and accompanying crises have laid bare biases and inequities that structure technological experience in social context, from contact tracing apps to facial recognition algorithms to remote surveillance. At a world-historic moment of crisis and social upheaval, Just Tech invites applicants to reflect on how technology is implicated in the ways societies meet—or fail to meet—crises, and how technology may be leveraged in service of empathic and community-centered repair and reparation.

This call invites applicants to explore questions like the following:

  • How do new technologies mitigate or reinforce long-term inequities during and after crises? How does technology diminish or enhance community resilience in times of crisis?
  • How can different ways of creating and communicating knowledge—from art to data science to community-based research—help us better understand the relationship between crisis and technology? How can these explorations enable us to imagine alternative futures in the aftermath of a crisis?
  • How can the lived experiences of marginalized peoples—such as ethnic and religious minorities, gender nonconforming and disabled communities, and those living in poverty—inform the design of just technologies, especially in the face of crisis?

These questions are meant to be suggestive and are by no means exhaustive. Applicants are invited to submit proposals that will inspire new thought, new questions, and new interventions. The fellowship encourages candidates to challenge our understanding of how technology shapes our experience of crises—current, past, or future—and how crises shape our experience of technology.

Eligibility

Education: Applicants must hold either a college-level credential, such as a bachelor’s degree in the arts, fine arts, sciences, or a demonstrated track record of success in their respective fields. 

Residence: Fellows are expected to reside in the United States during the term of their fellowship, although applications can be from citizens of any country. The SSRC will not sponsor visas, and may not be indicated as an affiliate or sponsor of visa applications. To learn more about visa requirements, please refer to the US State Department.

For more information on who is eligible and the application process, visit our Selection Criteria and Timeline and Frequently Asked Questions pages. Contact just-tech@ssrc.org with any further questions.

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