Jefferson Fellowships


The East-West Center is now accepting applications for the 2018 Jefferson Fellowships program. A three-week dialogue, study, and travel program to Honolulu, HI; Singapore; Manila, Philippines; and Kuala Lumpur/Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, will enable participating journalists in the 2018 Jefferson Fellowships program to better understand how domestic, regional, and global forces are influencing democratic progress in Southeast Asia and producing a new generation of populist leaders and movements as well as identity-based conflict. The 2018 Jefferson Fellowships program will begin at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii with U.S.-based experts regarding the spread of populism in the United States and the Asia Pacific region. Journalists will also share perspectives from their own countries on populism and identity politics through topic papers and presentations. Travel to Manila will explore the rise of Rodrigo Duterte, including his populist economic policies, criticism of the Philippine-U.S. relationship and the Catholic Church, and extrajudicial drug war. Journalists will explore how the President has portrayed himself as an authentic voice of the masses and how his language of crisis has delineated a criminal “other.” Travel to Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu will similarly examine Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration, the nexus between ethnic and religious identity in Malaysia, and its impact on representative and electoral politics ahead of a competitive election that must be held by mid-2018. The Jefferson Fellowships will also include participation in the East-West Center’s 6th International Media Conference in Singapore where journalists will gather to discuss “What is News Now,” and share on-the-ground information on news and media issues in the region. Finally, efforts by political leaders to undermine media’s legitimacy will be explored throughout the program.

Theme:  Populism, Identity, and the State of Democracy in Southeast Asia

Dates:  June 18 – July 10, 2018

Destinations:  Honolulu, HI; Singapore; Manila, Philippines; Kuala Lumpur/Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Funding:  The Jefferson Fellowships are funded by the Freeman Foundation and the East-West Center. These funds provide for 10-12 full or partial scholarships, including approximately 4-5 for qualified American journalists and 7-8 for Asia Pacific journalists. All participants must pay an $800 program 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.

Eligibility:  The Jefferson Fellowships are open to working print, broadcast, and online journalists in the United States, the Pacific Islands, and Asia. A minimum five years of professional experience is preferred. 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.

Deadline:  Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Required Documents:  All applicants must fill out the Jefferson Fellowships application form. In addition to the application form, applicants must also provide all of the following:

  • Letter of Interest (maximum three pages, double-spaced) including:
    • 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 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.
    • What you expect to accomplish 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.

*NOTE* 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).

  • The “Employer’s Statement of Support” form completed by your employer (also can be downloaded from the website). Freelancers must also submit the Employer Statement of Support form. Please write “Freelancer” for employer name.
  • 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. If your media organization is not paying your program fee or providing financial support, supervisors should indicate why not. 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.
  • Names, addresses, phone/fax numbers and e-mail of three people who may be contacted by the Center as references.

For more information, please visit the Jefferson Fellowships webpage.

You may also email or call Liz A. Dorn at 808-944-7368.