Since 1983, the Knight Science Journalism Program has hosted a premier fellowship program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offering science journalists from around the world a chance to spend nine months off deadline in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they have the opportunity to network, develop new skills, and audit courses at MIT, Harvard, and a wide range of other top-tier academic institutions in the area. More than 300 journalists — staff and freelance writers and editors, photographers, producers, and podcasters whose work is published and broadcast by some of the world’s most influential media companies — have joined KSJ over nearly 40 years.
This year, the rise and relentless spread of the Covid-19 global pandemic confronted us with a unique set of challenges in continuing to offer the kind of world-class fellowship experience that KSJ has historically provided. Some of that relates to the uncertainty of all university programs in the coming year, as our university and others in the Boston area work to plan an academic schedule that offers both quality and safety. We are also saddled with continued uncertainty regarding international travel in 2020, the possibility of a second wave of Covid-19 infections in the fall, and the timeline to a vaccine. And all these questions must be considered against our foremost priority: keeping our staff, and our fellows, safe.
Given the many uncertainties, logistical questions, and possible risks, the Knight Science Journalism Program has made the difficult decision to defer its academic fellowship program for one year, meaning that our next in-Cambridge fellowship program will commence in the 2021-22 academic year. We have selected that fellowship class based on applications from this year’s submissions cycle. In order to accommodate continued uncertainties and possible further pandemic-related changes to the program, we will not formally announce the ten fellows in the upcoming class until this fall.
In the interim, and in keeping with KSJ’s core mission of supporting science journalism, we will be opening an application process on June 1, 2020 to award up to 20 KSJ Project Fellowships. These fellowships, open to U.S. residents only, are designed to support independently conceived projects — books, investigations, documentaries — and they will be awarded for varying durations over the course of the upcoming academic year, from September 2020 to May 2021.
Candidates will be asked to apply for one of three forms of fellowship support:
- A nine-month, $40,000 fellowship running from September 2020 thru May 2021
- A four-month, $20,000 fellowship running from September 2020 thru December 2020
- A four-month, $20,000 fellowship running from February, 2021 thru May 2021
There is no requirement for project fellows to be based in Cambridge. Each fellow may choose an appropriate location for their work. But each fellowship will include remote access to MIT’s university libraries and their vast trove of journal and database materials. And all appointments will include up to $5,000 in additional support for research-related expenses, such as travel or equipment.
A competitive application period for the project fellowships will run for a month, from the June 1 start date until June 30, 2020. Recipients of the 2020-21 KSJ Project Fellowships will be announced on July 31, 2020. For further details about the application and fellowship process, please visit KSJ’s Project Fellowship page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to celebrating the new KSJ project fellows this summer. And we look forward to celebrating our outstanding incoming class of academic fellows this November and to personally welcoming them here in the summer of 2021. And most of all — and we know we are not alone in this — we look forward to reopening with enthusiasm, with style, and with safety in the post-pandemic years to come.
Director, Knight Science Journalism Program