Sustainability Science Program

Fellowships in Sustainability Science

Fellowships in Sustainability Science

What is the Sustainability Science Fellowship?
What are the goals of the Sustainability Science Program?
What is the focus of this year's competition?
Who can apply for a Sustainability Science Fellowship?
With whom do fellows work?
What are the responsibilities of Sustainability Science Fellows?
What support is provided by the Sustainability Science Fellowship?
What is the full application procedure due by January 15, 2014?
On what criteria are fellowship applications evaluated?
How do I receive updates about the fellowship opportunities with the Sustainability Science Program?
What related fellowships are available at Harvard?

What is the Sustainability Science Fellowship?

The Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University offers doctoral, post-doctoral, and mid-career fellowships in Sustainability Science. The fellowships are tenable during Harvard's academic year beginning in September 2015. Fellowships are available for 10 months (September 2015-May 2016), 12 months (September 2015-August 2016), the fall 2015 semester or spring 2016 semester (mid-career fellows only).

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What are the goals of the Sustainability Science Program?

The Sustainability Science Program aims to facilitate the design, implementation, and evaluation of effective interventions that promote sustainable development. To that end, we seek to advance scientific understanding of human-environment systems; to improve linkages between relevant research and innovation communities on the one hand, and relevant policy and management communities on the other; and, more broadly, to build capacity for linking knowledge with action to promote sustainability. The Program is directed by Henry Lee, William Clark, and Nancy Dickson and is administered at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. More information about the Sustainability Science Program can be found at http://www.hks.harvard.edu/mrcbg/sustsci.

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What is the focus of this year's competition?

This year’s competition is focused on three thematic areas related to energy and sustainability. We are seeking applications focusing on: 1) decarbonizing energy systems in the European Union; 2) designing, developing, and/or implementing sustainable energy technologies and policies in China; and 3) the impacts of fossil fuel subsidies on economic, environmental, and health indicators and the actions that can be taken to reduce them.

Sustainable Energy and the European Union
Faculty leader: Henry Lee, Jassim M. Jaidah Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program
Faculty co-leaders: Laura Diaz Anadon, William Clark

This thematic area explores policies that will aid in decarbonizing the energy in the EU in view of the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policy which will be decided on in October 2014. The EU is considering more ambitious targets for renewable energy options, increased energy efficiency goals for reducing greenhouse gases by 2030. Fellows will be expected work on the sustainability of the supply chain of renewable energies in the EU, from inception to commercialization. The overall renewable energy life-cycle can be considered in its entirety or the work can focus on a specific stage of the life-cycle. The program is particularly interested in analyzing the renewable energy sustainability in EU economies that have traditionally lagged behind other member states in terms of increasing the use of renewable energy technologies and the challenges and opportunities to expand deployment and use of those technologies.

Sustainable Development of the Energy Sector in China: Challenges and Options
Faculty leader: Henry Lee, Jassim M. Jaidah Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program
Faculty co-leaders: Laura Diaz Anadon, Venkatesh Narayanamurti

This thematic area addresses the environmental implications of energy policies in China and explores how China can manage these implications. Fellows work to identify and promote policies that will contribute to the thoughtful use of China's natural resources (e.g., water, air, land) and/or the adoption of cleaner and less carbon-intensive industrial and energy technologies. Research areas include, but are not limited to: analyzing the impact of energy and industrial policies on water scarcity and air pollution; assessing polices to promote a low-carbon energy portfolio and an analysis of options to improve the efficient use of energy and greater penetration of alternative energy sources.

Fossil Fuel Subsidies: Impacts, Opportunities, and Challenges to Reform
Faculty leader: Joseph Aldy, Assistant Professor of Public Policy

Fossil fuel subsidies distort the prices for electricity and fuels for a majority of the world’s population. Failing to account for the full social cost of energy – such as human health and environmental damages – results in implicit subsidies of nearly $2 trillion globally each year. In many developing countries, government subsidies for fossil fuel subsidies compete with potentially socially desirable uses of fiscal resources, such as investments in public health, education, infrastructure, and low- or zero-emitting sources of energy. Nonetheless, pricing energy, and especially fossil fuel-based energy, below its social opportunity cost persists throughout the world and it begs the question: if fossil fuel subsidies are so bad, why are they so common? We are interested in fellows whose research focuses on 1) empirical estimates of the environmental and health impacts of subsidizing fossil fuels in developing countries, 2) the potential fiscal trade-offs associated with fossil fuel subsidies, 3) how pricing energy below cost affects global commodity price levels and volatility as well as incentives for investment in non-fossil energy alternatives, 4) the political economy that supports policies that continue to subsidize fossil fuels in developing countries, or 5) case studies of successful energy price reforms to identify key lessons for informing future reform efforts.

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Who can apply for a Sustainability Science Fellowship?

The Sustainability Science Fellowships are open to advanced doctoral and post-doctoral students, and to mid-career professionals engaged in research or practice that advances the goals of the program (see above). Prospective fellows should have a focused personal research or writing objective that is consistent with those goals. In addition, applicants should be interested in spending some of their time as fellows in collaborations with other fellows and faculty in the program in ways that will advance the interdisciplinary, problem-driven agenda of sustainability science more broadly. The Fellowships are tenable at Harvard during the University's academic year beginning in September 2015. Applications for the mid-career fellowships are invited from individuals in governmental, non-governmental, private organizations, or academia with at least five years of professional experience doing work involved in linking science and practice for sustainable development. Applications for the post-doctoral fellowships are welcome from recent recipients of the Ph.D. or equivalent degree. (Applicants must have completed their Ph.D. between 2010 and 2015.) Applicants for a doctoral fellowship must currently be enrolled in a doctoral program and have passed their qualifying exams (completed coursework and passed oral and/or written exams) by July 2015. Applicants whose doctoral programs do not require qualifying exams must have completed all the required coursework for the Ph.D., since fellows will not be doing course work while at Harvard. Applications are solicited from individuals working in the natural and social sciences as well as relevant professions. Special funding for the Giorgio Ruffolo Fellowships in Sustainability Science is provided by Italy’s Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea. Applicants from Italy, China, and developing countries are therefore especially encouraged to apply. Further information regarding current and past fellows can be obtained through the program's web site.

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With whom do fellows work?

Each year, the Sustainability Science Program recruits fellows to work with one another and with Harvard faculty. Candidates who are offered a fellowship will be paired with a Harvard faculty member who has related interests. Applicants may identify a potential faculty member(s) with whom they would like to do research in the on-line application, but applicants should NOT try to secure a commitment from a faculty member before applying. (Unfortunately many faculty are not able to talk with the very large number of candidates who express initial interest in the fellowship. After a fellowship is awarded, however, they will be available to discuss whether there is a match of research interests with particular applicants.)

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What are the responsibilities of Sustainability Science Fellows?

Fellows are expected to play a central role in the intellectual life of the Sustainability Science Program. This includes working on an SSP thematic area described above and presenting results of the personal research project proposed in the fellow's application, preparation for and attendance at Program seminars and workshops, and authorship or co-authorship of a substantial paper addressing a topic agreed upon by the fellow and program directors. Fellows should expect to spend about half of their time on collaborative work on one of SSP’s thematic areas. In order to enhance interactions within the program, we strongly discourage substantial additional activities or obligations during the period of the fellowship. Exceptions must be negotiated with the Program in advance of accepting a fellowship offer. Fellows are expected to be in residence at Harvard during the full period of their award except when doing field research or attending academic conferences. Such time away from Harvard should generally not amount to more than 25% of the fellowship period. Each fellow will be asked to make at least one formal presentation.

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What support is provided by the Sustainability Science Fellowship?

The Sustainability Science Fellowship is based on a 12-month stipend of $55,000 for post-doctoral fellows, $28,000 for doctoral fellows, and a negotiated amount for mid-career fellows depending on their citizenship, current salary, current employment location, seniority, and other sources of support ($35,000 maximum). Fellows may also obtain funding from their own academic institutions, outside foundations, and personal resources. In the case of successful mid-career applicants with support for sabbatical or professional leave, packages can be negotiated in which Program funds complement such support and stipends can be paid to the fellow's home institution. Recipients are expected to spend a minimum of one semester at the University. Stipends will be proportionately reduced for fellows spending less time in residence with the Program which can range from 3-12 months. Fellows will have the option of purchasing Harvard employee medical and dental benefits. Office space and supplies, personal computers, telecommunications, and access to Harvard University libraries and other facilities will be provided. Expenses associated with project workshops are covered for fellowship holders by the Program. Limited support for field research expenses is provided on a competitive basis as budgets allow. Since the Program's funds are limited, prospective fellows are strongly urged to pursue additional sources of stipendiary and research support. Applications from those with their own resources are also welcome.

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What is the full application procedure due by February 2, 2015?

Applications for the fellowship are due February 2, 2015. Candidates should submit:

  1. An on-line application cover sheet, located here (click here to see questions in advance, form must be completed online).
  2. The following documents in pdf format should be attached to a SINGLE email message and sent to: sustsci_grants@hks.harvard.edu by February 2, 2015. The attached files should be labeled, familyname_givenname_CV or Writing or Proposal, e.g., Smith_Jane_Proposal. The subject heading of the email should read 'Sustainability Science Fellowship' followed by the applicant's last name.
    1. Proposal: Applicants should attach a description of their proposed project including specific information demonstrating how their work contributes to the goals of the Sustainability Science Program as outlined above, particularly noting how it compliments one or more of the three projects listed above. Maximum length is 1500 words (about 3 pages of single spaced type) plus literature citations.
    2. Curriculum vitae: Please attach curriculum vitae, listing publications and graduate coursework on research methodology or experience relevant to the planned project (3 page maximum).
    3. Writing Sample (20 page maximum, e.g., peer-reviewed article, draft dissertation chapter
  3. Additionally, the three (3) recommenders named in the cover sheet should email their letters of support directly to: sustsci_grants@hks.harvard.edu by February 2, 2015. The subject heading should read 'Sustainability Science Fellowship: Recommendation for [candidate's name]. Referees should comment on the applicant's suitability for the Sustainability Science Fellowship, including relevant information on scientific originality, professional productivity, and demonstrated ability to work in groups. Applicants applying for doctoral fellowships in Sustainability Science should have one recommendation from a thesis advisor or other university official stating that the applicant has/is expected to pass his/her qualifying exams by Summer 2015. If an applicant does not have qualifying exams at his/her university, then the applicant's major advisor should state this in the letter of recommendation and confirm that the necessary coursework will have been completed by June 2015. (Our strong preference is for recommendations letters to be sent by email. If letters must be mailed, the postal address is: Sustainability Science Fellowships, Sustainability Science Program, Mailbox 81, Harvard Kennedy School, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA.)

Applicants bear full responsibility for ensuring that all materials, including recommendation letters, are received by February 2, 2015. We will NOT notify applicants of incomplete applications. Decisions will be announced in March 2015.

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On what criteria are fellowship applications evaluated?

Fellowship applications will be evaluated according to the criteria listed below. No proposal is expected to meet all of these criteria, but those scoring high on many of the criteria will be more likely to succeed in the competition.

  • Prior success and potential contribution of the applicant to scholarship or practice of sustainability science;
  • Project significance: the potential impact of the research project on sustainability science scholarship or practice (note that the means used to pursue the research may be grounded in a single discipline or may be multidisciplinary; the requirement is that the results of the work contribute to the field of problem-inspired work on human-environment interactions that we call "sustainability science");
  • Problem-driven relevance: the ways in which successful completion of the project would contribute to solving practical problems of sustainable development. For the 2015-16 competition, we will give significant preference to applicants whose work compliments one or more of the three SSP projects.
  • Provides synergies with another center at Harvard.

Diversity: The Program will attempt to select a group of fellows from a range of academic disciplines and nations whose work will focus on a variety of topics. Recipients may include people with degrees in the sciences, economics, law, government, public policy, public health, medicine, design, and the full array of humanities. Their research topics will be equally varied. Interdisciplinary research projects are encouraged, although this is not a requirement for the fellowship. Candidates with interests in approaching sustainability issues through a single discipline are therefore also encouraged to apply.

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How do I receive updates about the fellowship opportunities with the Sustainability Science Program?

To receive periodic messages about fellowship opportunities with the Sustainability Science Program, subscribe to the list "sustsci_fellowships" by sending a message (with no subject) to:

subscribe-sustsci_fellowships@lists.hks.harvard.edu

containing the line in the message field:

subscribe sustsci_fellowships

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What related fellowships are available at Harvard?

Related fellowship opportunities are available through a number of other Harvard Programs and Centers. Since funding for the Sustainability Science Program is limited, interested applicants are urged to consider applying to these other fellowship programs as well. Applicants who receive such fellowships and are pursuing research related to sustainability science are invited to apply to the Sustainability Science Program for joint appointment as non-stipendiary fellows.