Jefferson Fellowships


Launched in 1967, the Jefferson Fellowships is the East-West Center’s most widely-recognized and established seminar program, with an illustrious alumni network of more than 729 Jefferson Fellows across 34 countries in the Asia Pacific and the United States. The broad goal of the program is to enhance public understanding through the news media of cultures, issues and trends in the Asia Pacific region. Participation in the Jefferson Fellowships provides working journalists with an opportunity to learn and report from cities across the Asia Pacific on key issues and developments taking place, sharing with audiences first-hand perspectives and new insights. The program provides a unique combination of study-dialogue at the East-West Center with an educational reporting trip taken with colleagues from countries across the region. The program is made possible through a generous grant from The Freeman Foundation of Stowe Vermont and supplemented by contributions from news organizations, foundations, U.S. Embassies, and the East-West Center.

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2022 Jefferson Fellowships

Theme:  Inequality in the U.S. and Asia:  Drivers, Consequences, and Policy Responses

Dates:  October 29 - November 18, 2022

Destinations:  Honolulu, Hawaii; Hong Kong, SAR (virtual); Tokyo & TBD, Japan; Jakarta, Indonesia

Summary:  A three-week dialogue, reporting, and hybridized travel program to Honolulu, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Jakarta will contextualize and compare widening disparities of income, wealth, and opportunity within the United States and Asia. The program will enable journalists to better understand the distributional consequences of technological change, globalization, and market reforms, which arguably favor skilled over unskilled labor, capital over labor, and urban and coastal areas over rural areas. The proposed theme will also explore how income and wealth inequalities are reinforced by inequitable access to opportunity in such critical areas as education, healthcare, financing and credit, housing, and infrastructure. Opportunity disparities resulting from gender, racial, ethnic, and nativist discrimination will also be addressed as will the politicization of inequality, its impact on polarization and declining public trust, and how affected governments are responding.

Despite low rates of poverty and unemployment, inequality in the United States has hit its highest level in 50 years, according to the Census Bureau. The gap is greatest in New York, Connecticut, California and Washington, D.C. and lowest in Utah, Alaska, New Hampshire, Wyoming, and Hawaii. This variance across states highlights the important role that policies, institutions, and demographics play. The 2022 Jefferson Fellowships program will begin in Honolulu with expert-led sessions on inequality in the U.S. and the Asia Pacific region. Journalists will additionally share perspectives from their own countries on the drivers, consequences, and policy responses related to inequality through topic papers and presentations. Site visits in Honolulu will also provide opportunities to observe how growing inequity is affecting one of United States’ most racially and ethnically diverse states and how policymakers and grassroots organizations are responding.

The Asia Pacific region has for several decades witnessed extraordinary economic development, however, growth has not been balanced or inclusive. Hong Kong is one of the world’s richest and most inequitable cities, in which the wealthiest households earn almost 44 times what the poorest families earn and one in five residents lives below the poverty line. Virtual travel to Hong Kong will allow journalists to discern some the socio-economic inequities underpinning the current unrest, including the city’s changing demographics; escalating housing prices; and tax policies, which favor concentrated wealth. In contrast, Japan, has long been considered one of the world’s most equitable developed countries due to income and inheritance tax policies that hinder the accumulation of capital over generations as well as social security benefits that significantly raise the net incomes of the country’s low-income citizens. Inequality, however, is on the rise driven by a greying of society; intergenerational, gender, and urban-rural wealth disparities; and the growth of irregular (hiseiki) employment over life-long employment. In-person travel to Tokyo will examine Japan’s crumbling egalitarianism and the Abe administration’s response. In-person travel to Jakarta will similarly examine the drivers underpinning Indonesia’s widening income and wealth inequality, including urbanization; foreign direct investment into skill intensive industries; low wages and insecure employment for low skilled workers; and gender gaps in educational attainment and labor participation. The Jakarta study tour will also explore policy efforts taken by the Joko Widodo government to expand social assistance programs, improve access to infrastructure, and address education disparity. Finally, meetings with government officials, security officers, academics, media colleagues, students, civil society leaders, and immigrants will provide first-hand exposure to and a more nuanced understanding of the theme and will build the professional networks of participating journalists.

Professional Exchange:  An essential element of the Jefferson Fellowships is the journalist-to-journalist exchange. Each Fellow is required to prepare and submit a short paper (1,000–1,500 words) several weeks prior to their arrival at the Center. Papers should address the theme and discuss how the journalist’s home country – at the government, private sector and/or socio-cultural level – is responding to the issue. Each Fellow also will make an oral presentation (approximately 10-15 minutes) based on the previously submitted paper and participate in discussion of his or her topic. The purpose of the presentations is to leverage the knowledge and experience of participating journalists in ways that are professionally useful to fellow participants as they study, assess, and report on the theme of the fellowship as well as the Asia Pacific region.

Funding:  The Jefferson Fellowships are funded by the Freeman Foundation, the Mary Morgan Hewett Fund, and the East-West Center. These funds provide for 10-14 full or partial scholarships, including approximately 2-4 for qualified American journalists and 8-10 for Asia Pacific journalists. A full scholarship for the 2022 Jefferson Fellowships, for instance, is valued at USD$8785 and includes:

  • Roundtrip airfare to and from participant’s home country and throughout the study tour
  • Lodging in each of the cities
  • Program meals and a modest per diem to cover meals not provided
  • Ground transportation and airport transfers
  • Cultural activities and networking opportunities
  • Access to thematically relevant photos, b-roll, and raw video free of copyright or logo placements
  • Interpretation as needed
  • Pro-rated speaker honorariums, cooperating organization costs, and meeting rooms
  • Participant resource website
  • Experienced escort and professionally organized program of meetings and visits, often with unique access to speakers and communities.

All Fellows must pay an $800 program fee to cover costs not provided by the scholarship funds. Fellows are also responsible for all applicable visa fees and visa-related expenses, health insurance, and baggage fees.

Given there are few full scholarships available, we strongly encourage media organizations to cost share program expenses 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 form 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.

Eligibility:  The Jefferson Fellowships are open to working print, broadcast, and online journalists in the United States and the Asia Pacific defined as: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Zealand, Niue, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Tonga, and Vietnam. A minimum five years of professional experience is required. Applicants must have the ability to communicate in English in a professional, multi-cultural environment. Preference will be given to journalists who clearly articulate the relevance of the theme to their areas of coverage and how they intend to use the knowledge gained to enhance the perspectives of viewers, readers, and listeners. Journalists are strongly encourage to generate media content during and after the program in the form of formal print and broadcast stories, blogs, tweets, Instagram and other social media communications.

Congratulations to the 2022 Jefferson Fellows:

  • Mr. Jon Viktor CABUENAS, Content Producer, GMA News Online, Manila, Philippines
  • Mr. Efrain HERNANDEZ Jr., Assistant Foreign & National Editor, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Ms. Katie JOHNSTON, Labor Reporter, The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • Mr. Shih-Shiang LIAO, News Anchor & Reporter, Era News, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Ms. Kinling LO, Reporter, South China Morning Post, Hong Kong SAR
  • Mr. Faisal MAHMUD, Features Editor, Fintech Magazine, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Ms. Jada NAGUMO, Reporter, Nikkei Asian Review, Tokyo, Japan
  • Ms. Repeka NASIKO, Senior News Reporter, The Fiji Times, Lautoka, Fiji
  • Ms. Olivera PERKINS, Business Reporter, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
  • Ms. Luiza SAVAGE, Executive Director, Editorial Initiatives, POLITICO, Washington, DC, USA
  • Ms. Christina ZHOU, Deputy Editor, Asia Pacific Newsroom, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Melbourne, Australia


2019 Jefferson Fellowships

Theme:  Migration Policy & Public Sentiment

Dates:  April 21 – May 12, 2019

Destinations:  Honolulu, Hawaii; Seoul, South Korea; Manila, Philippines; Sydney, Australia

The 2019 Jefferson Fellowships program took place April 21 – May 12 with study tour travel to Honolulu, Hawaii; Seoul, South Korea; Manila, Philippines; and Sydney, Australia included thirteen journalists from ten countries. Journalists explored migration patterns and policy solutions as well as how economic, political, and social concerns are influencing public sentiment and fostering support for nativist policies via the program theme of Migration Policy & Public Sentiment. The 2019 Jefferson Fellowships program began in Honolulu with an examination of migrant patterns in the United States and the Asia Pacific, including countries of origin, educational attainment, gender, and distribution within recipient countries. Journalists also explored President Donald Trump’s push for more restrictive immigration policies along with how this has framed the public debate and influenced sentiment and how those policies have affected Hawaii. Journalists also shared perspectives from their own countries on the theme through topic paper presentations. Travel to Seoul examined the driving forces underpinning South Korea’s migration patterns; public sentiment regarding those patterns; and the gradual implementation of policies intended to attract expatriate nationals and foreign workers. Contrastingly, travel to Manila explored domestic push factors compelling Filipinos abroad and the various institutions and civil society organizations facilitating and protecting overseas workers. In Sydney, the journalists examined Australia’s move away from family migration to skilled migration targeting national workforce needs; the rise of temporary and “two-step migration”; the controversial “Pacific Solution”; and the public’s response. The media’s increasingly fragmented and partisanship role in choosing, framing, and disseminating migration stories and its effective shaping of public perception was also discussed throughout the program. Finally, meetings with government officials, military personnel, academics, media colleagues, students, civil society leaders, and immigrants offered the journalists an opportunity to contextualize and compare migration patterns, policy solutions, and public sentiment across four democratic countries; provided first-hand exposure to and more nuanced understanding of the theme; and built the professional networks of participating journalists.

The 2019 Jefferson Fellowships program also provided participating journalists with much needed context and firsthand perspectives on the Asia Pacific region. This was achieved by engaging with 15 experts; 73 policymakers, business and community leaders, students, journalists, civil society leaders, and others during the course of the program; and visiting 12 thematically relevant sites to observe non-profit and migrant community activities as well as cultural places that illuminated and brought life to the theme. These informational sessions and site visits not only contextualized migration patterns, policy solutions, and public sentiment concerning immigration and emigration, they also provided the journalists with an opportunity to learn about the region from multiple viewpoints both within each country and comparatively across four democracies. In addition, the 2019 Jefferson Fellowships program offered access to individuals that the journalists might not otherwise engage. Traveling with a multinational group of American and Asian colleagues representing print, television, radio, and online news outlets further diversified the views offered and provided an even greater opportunity to deepen the journalists’ knowledge of Asia Pacific.

Another outcome was the development of lifelong professional relationships and building of reliable information networks, thus, improving journalistic capacity to source future stories. As a result of their participation in the 2019 Jefferson Fellowships program, the journalists have produced a total of 31 stories via traditional media and blog posts reaching millions across the United States and the Asia Pacific. They have also generated 166 tweets, reaching a collective following of more than 10,416 direct Twitter followers plus additional viral lift by the Center.

The 2019 Jefferson Fellows were:

  • Ms. Noriko AKIYAMA, Senior Political Writer, The Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, Japan
  • Mr. Tony BERNHARDT Jr., Content Director & Investigative Reporter, Graycom Media Group, San Diego, California, USA
  • Ms. Gill BONNETT, Senior Journalist, Radio New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand
  • Ms. Annalisa BURGOS, Freelancer, ABS-CBN News, Manila, Philippines  
  • Mr. Pramod DE SILVA, Consultant Editor, Associated Newspapers of Ceyclon Ltd. (aka Lake House), Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Ms. Ishani DUTTAGUPTA, Senior Assistant Editor, The Economic Times, New Delhi, India
  • Mr. Yik Fan EG, Editor, Hello Singapore, Mediacorp Singapore, Singapore
  • Mr. Clifford Wangi FAIK, Senior Journalist, The National, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  • Mr. Jae Young KIM, Deputy Editor, Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), Seoul, South Korea
  • Ms. Tania KARAS, Immigration Reporter & Editor, PRI’s The World, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • Mr. David LEWIS, Reporter, “Background Briefing,” Australian Broadcasting Corporation, New South Wales, Australia
  • Mr. Thomas MARESCA, Asia Correspondent, USA Today, Seoul, Korea/USA
  • Mr. Xing WEI, Deputy Editor, Pear Video, Shanghai, China
  • Mr. Nicholas Kuo Liang YONG, Assistant News Editor, Yahoo News Singapore, Singapore  

For a summary of the 2018 Jefferson Fellowships program, please click here.


Contact Information
Liz A. Dorn
Seminars Program Coordinator
East-West Center
1601 East West Road
Honolulu, HI  96848-1601  USA
Phone: (808) 944-7368
Fax: (808) 944-7600
Email: [email protected]