Jefferson Fellowships

Now accepting applications for the 2016 program – due January 29th

The Jefferson Fellowships offer print and broadcast journalists from the United States, Asia and the Pacific Islands the unique opportunity to gain on-the-ground perspectives and build international networks to enhance their reporting through an intensive one-week education and dialogue seminar at the East-West Center in Honolulu followed by two weeks of study tour travel in the Asia Pacific-U.S. region.

Program Background

Jefferson Fellows interview U Win Tin, a founding member of the National League for Democracy, who spent 19 years in prison.The Jefferson Fellowships is the East-West Center’s most widely-recognized and established seminar program, with an illustrious alumni network of more than 600 Jefferson Fellows across the Asia Pacific region and the United States. The broad goal of the program is to to enhance public understanding through the news media of cultures, issues and trends in the Asia Pacific region. Participation in the Jefferson Fellowships provides journalists with enhanced knowledge of the most important regional issues, valuable professional contacts, and life-long friendships with their colleagues in the program, as well as access to the EWC’s international network of more than 1,000 media professionals and 50,000 alumni. The program is made possible through a generous grant from The Freeman Foundation of Stowe Vermont and supplemented by contributions from news organizations, US Embassies in Asia Pacific, other foundations and the East-West Center.

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The 2015 Jefferson Fellowships program took place May 2-23. Fifteen journalists from 12 different countries explored the conflict in the South China Sea with travel to Beijing and Hainan Island in China, Manila and Masinloc in the Philippines, and Singapore. Please see below for a write up of the program.

The 2016 Jefferson Fellowships program

Theme:  The Future of Growth in Asia Pacific

Destinations: Honolulu, Hawaii; Beijing & Guiyang, China; Tokyo & Fukuoka-Kitakyushu, Japan

Dates: April 30-May 22, 2016

Who Can Apply: Working print, broadcast, and on-line journalists in the United States, Asia* and the Pacific Islands. Five years of experience preferred. English fluency required. *Please note that scholarship funding applies only to Asian countries in this list.

Deadline: January 29, 2016

Over the past half century, the Asia-Pacific region has been in the forefront of global growth. But now the longer-term economic future of the region appears increasingly uncertain. Each country faces a somewhat different set of challenges, but many share concerns about aging societies, increased labor costs and a loss of competitive advantage, reduced overseas demand, a need for broader prosperity, and serious resource and environmental problems. With these challenges and the imperative of climate change, new models will be needed for growth in the 21st century.

The 2016 Jefferson Fellowships will focus on Asia’s search for new, more sustainable growth models through sessions with experts and one another in Honolulu and by exploring economic challenges and restructuring in Japan and China. As the world’s 2nd and 3rd largest economies, the success of China and Japan in finding new models will have wide reaching impacts. After decades of rapid growth, China’s overall growth is falling, internal debt is rising and China fears falling into the middle income trap, getting old before it gets rich. In Beijing, journalists will explore China’s efforts to maintain its growth as it shifts to a new model based more on domestic demand versus government investment, higher value-added manufacturing and innovation, and a dynamic service sector, while also addressing dire environmental degradation and the need for a broader distribution of wealth. A visit to Guiyang, the capital of one of China’s poorest inland provinces but the second fastest growing province in 2015, will illustrate both the challenges as well as opportunities for new growth in China. A new high speed rail line just arrived as part of the “One Belt, One Road” strategy and it is becoming a hub for cloud computing, alternative financing and big data.

In Japan, the economy has been in near stagnation for 20 years. It also is in the vanguard of population aging with the world’s oldest society. Meetings with officials, analysts and business leaders in Tokyo will explore Prime Minister Abe’s monetary, fiscal, and structural reform measures intended to boost the economy out of persistent deflation. Visits in Tokyo and travel to Fukuoka-Kitakyushu will highlight some areas of focus for these reforms--promoting efficiency, greater female and elder labor market participation, investments in innovative robotics, advancements in elder care, and rural and regional revitalization. A formerly polluted steel-producing region that transformed itself, Fukuoka-Kitakyushu was designated an “eco-model city” as part of the federal government’s initiatives to commercialize and share technology and know-how for environmentally sustainable growth across Asia. Discussions throughout the program will include the role of the region’s international relations and tensions; the TransPacific Partnership (TPP); and regional integration and investment measures such as China’s “One Belt, One Road” and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).


The Jefferson Fellowships are supported by a grant from The Freeman Foundation and by the East-West Center.

These funds provide for 10-13 full or partial scholarships, including approximately 4-5 for qualified American journalists and 7-8 for Asia Pacific journalists.

All participants, regardless of amount of scholarship, must pay an $800 programming fee to cover costs not provided by the scholarship funds. Participants are also responsible for all applicable visa fees, any additional visa-related expenses, health insurance and baggage fees.

The direct costs for participation in this intensive educational, dialogue, and reporting program are valued at approximately* $9000 and include:

  • Roundtrip airfare to and from your home country and throughout the study tour
  • Lodging in each of the fellowship cities
  • Provided program meals and a modest per diem to cover meals not provided
  • Ground transportation and airport transfers
  • Cultural activities and networking opportunities
  • Interpretation in China and the Philippines
  • Pro-rated program costs such as speaker honorariums, cooperating organization costs and meeting rooms
  • Participant Resource Binder and background readings 
  • Thumb drive of fellowship documents, speaker PowerPoint presentations and photos
  • Experienced escorts

We encourage media organizations to cost share programs costs and/or airfare. Cost sharing is seen as an indication of the commitment of media organizations to the value of the program and their willingness to invest in the participating journalist. It is an important consideration of the Selection Committee.  The "Employer’s Statement of Support" indicating cost sharing is required for all applicants.

Journalists also are welcome to offer cost sharing on their own or identify other sponsors to cost share participation, such as local foundations. Please complete a second copy of the Employer Statement of Support form and indicate who is providing the cost sharing.

*airfares will be different from different countries

For full program information please download the 2016 Jefferson Fellowships Announcement

Please also see this list of Frequently Asked Questions about eligibility, funding and the application process.

How To Apply:

All applicants must fill out the Jefferson Fellowships application form. You may download PDF or MS Word versions below.

Jefferson Fellowships Application Form (PDF) NOTE: You must save a copy of the form to your computer before filling out the form.

Jefferson Fellowships Application Form (MS Word)

In addition to the application form, applicants must also provide all of the following:

•    A letter outlining the following (maximum three pages, double-spaced, please):

--what you expect to accomplish if an award is granted and what issues you want to explore/write about during the program. Please share specific story ideas or details of how this will enhance your work as reporter/editor/producer, etc.; 

--a brief description of your news organization and your role;

--topics you propose to address in your paper and presentation at the East-West Center (please see the full program announcement for more information about this requirement of the program). This should be a perspective from your own country on an issue or issues related to the theme of the program.

The strongest applicants will make a case for why this theme is relevant to their beat and/or their country, how their reporting will stand to benefit from this opportunity, and will offer specific, relevant story ideas (in their role as an editor, producer, reporter, columnist, etc).

•    A letter of recommendation on official letterhead from your supervisor describing your suitability for the Fellowship and the benefit the organization hopes to derive from your participation in the program. Freelance journalists are welcome to apply; please send a letter on official letterhead from a media organization that regularly accepts and publishes or airs your work. If your media organization is not paying your program fee or providing financial support, supervisors should indicate why not.

•    The “Employer’s Statement of Support” form completed by your employer (third page of application form). Freelancers must also submit the Employer Statement of Support form. Please write “Freelancer” for employer name.

•    Names, addresses, phone/fax numbers and e-mail of three people who may be contacted by the Center as references. Two of these references should be people outside your news organization.

For a printed copy of these instructions, please download the 2016 Jefferson Fellowships Announcement (instructions on page 4)

Complete applications must be submitted by Friday, January 29 by:



Fax: 808-944-7600

For inquiries about the application process, please call Sara Lam: 808-944-7727

Questions about the Fellowships program should be directed to: Ann Hartman, Coordinator,; 808-944-7619

NOTE: Please indicate “Jefferson Fellowships Application” in the subject heading of your e-mail or fax. We will confirm receipt of the application within 5 working days. If you do not hear back from us, please follow up.

The 2015 Jefferson Fellowships program

Theme:  The South China Sea: Trade, Resources and Conflict

Destinations: Honolulu, Hawaii; Beijing and Hainan Island, China; Manila and Masinloc, Philippines; and Singapore

Dates: May 2-23, 2015

The seas are vitally important to the Asia Pacific region. Countries in the region are heavily dependent on international trade and imported energy, the bulk of which travel by sea. They are the source of much of the protein in the diets of many countries in the region, a demand that is increasing as middle classes grow. They have potentially valuable energy and mineral resources. The South China Sea is one of the world’s most heavily used transit corridors and is the key route for trade as well as the imported energy fueling regional economies. It is estimated that roughly half a billion people live within 100 miles of the coasts of the South China Sea and the seas are potentially rich in fishing and hydrocarbon resources. There have long been disputes over sovereignty, overlapping exclusive economic zones and competing claims, but these tensions have heightened in recent years, creating conflict and an urgent need for regional coordination in the seas. These tensions can hinder needed cooperation on other critical challenges of sustainable management of sea-based resources, protecting the environment, combating criminal activities such as poaching and piracy, and ensuring the stable and efficient freedom of navigation that plays a key role in Asia’s growth and prosperity.

From top: journalists attended a rountable discussion hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China; and a forum on the South China Sea hosted by the Philippine goverment, Manila, Philippines

From top: journalists met with fishermen from China and the Philippines; shipping, Singapore Strait

The 2015 Jefferson Fellowships provided journalists with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of these complex issues including the role that oceans play in the prosperity and security of Asia Pacific countries, the legal frameworks that govern the use of the seas, the roles of various countries and organizations in enforcing these rules, the disputes over ownership of maritime territory in the South China Sea and the prospects for the way forward. In Honolulu journalists learned about these issues and the role of the United States from regional experts, US military officials, and presentations by one another. Travel to China and the Philippines provided first hand perspectives from two of the key claimants in South China Sea disputes who are at the center of the first case brought for international arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas. Visits to the capital cities as well as local communities bordering the South China Sea explored the importance of the seas to both countries—one a continental rising global power and the other a developing island nation. In Singapore, participants explored the business of trade by sea in a city-state highly dependent on maritime transshipment for its prosperity and one of the gateways to the Malacca Strait, through which almost 50,000 ships carrying half the world's trade and one-third of global oil pass each year. Singapore also offered an opportunity to explore strategies and scenarios for regional cooperation in managing territorial disputes as well as efforts to mitigate piracy and manage congestion in these vital shipping lanes.


The Jefferson Fellowships are supported by a grant from The Freeman Foundation and by the East-West Center. The 2015 program was also generously supported by grant funding from the US Embassy Bangkok, US Embassy Canberra, US Embassy Hanoi, and the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

The 2015 Jefferson Fellows were:

  • Ms. Qin CHEN, Reporter, Caixin Media, Beijing, China
  • Dr. Rungthip CHOTNAPALAI, News Anchor/Producer, Thai Television Channel 3, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Mr. William ENGLUND, Assistant Foreign Editor, Washington Post, Washington, DC, United States
  • Mr. Jim GOMEZ, Chief Correspondent, Associated Press, Manila, Philippines
  • Mr. Takuya HIRAGA, Reporter, The Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, Japan
  • Mrs. Huong HOANG, Editor, VietNamNet Newspaper, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Ms. Shu-ling KO, Reporter, Kyodo News, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Ms. Gretel C. KOVACH, Military Affairs Reporter, U-T San Diego, San Diego, California, United States
  • Ms. Susan LANNIN, Business Journalist, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Ultimo, Australia
  • Mr. Siddhartha MAHANTA, Assistant Editor, Foreign Policy, Washington, DC, United States
  • Mr. Sachin PARASHAR, Assistant Editor – Strategic Affairs, The Times of India, Delhi, India
  • Ms. Ellen READ, National Business Editor, Fairfax Media (NZ), Auckland, New Zealand
  • Mr. Ravi VELLOOR, Associate Editor, The Straits Times, Singapore
  • Ms. Tracy WHOLF, Associate Producer, WNET/PBS NewsHour Weekend, New York, New York, United States
  • Mr. Fitriyan ZAMZAMI, Masrum, Editor/Journalist, Republika Daily Newspaper, Jakarta Selatan, Indonesia

For information on the 2014 Jefferson Fellowship program, click here.

For information on the 2013 Jefferson Fellowship program, click here.

For information on the 2012 Jefferson Fellowship program, click here.

Contact Information
Ann Hartman
Seminar Specialist, Seminars
East-West Center
1601 East West Road
Honolulu, HI  96848-1601  USA
Phone: (808) 944-7619
Fax: (808) 944-7600