To compete and thrive in the 21st century, democracies, and the United States in particular, must develop new national security and economic strategies that address the geopolitics of information. In the 20th century, market capitalist democracies geared infrastructure, energy, trade, and even social policy to protect and advance that era’s key source of power—manufacturing. In this century, democracies must better account for information geopolitics across all dimensions of domestic policy and national strategy.
Launched in 2019 through Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the Tech and Public Purpose (TAPP) Fellowship provides a unique opportunity for practitioners in technology, policy, and civil society to explore multidisciplinary approaches to maximizing the societal benefits of emerging technologies while minimizing the harms.
In recent years, dilemmas posed by rapid technological innovation have become more complex and acute. The TAPP Fellowship, crafted in response to the greater need to train people to carry out multidisciplinary tech policy and practitioner analysis in both government and industry, will be open to individuals from all disciplines with a demonstrated interest in tech and public purpose in their work. Fellows will be appointed for a one academic year term and will be part of an inaugural, multidisciplinary cohort responsible for conducting research in a tech and public purpose field, such as privacy, safety and security, transparency and accountability, or inclusion.
The TAPP Fellowship is:
A one academic year program (September – May)
Full-time, in-residence (based in Cambridge, MA)
Paid, including travel stipends
Our model focuses on(1) multidisciplinary research, (2) learning and skill sharing, (3) dynamic and diverse community building, and (4) high-impact, real-world projects and applications. We accomplish this through thoughtful fellowship programming, including (but not limited to):
Tailored fellowship seminars by technology policy experts, and access to graduate-level courses offered through Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Law School, MIT, and more on technology and public purpose topics;
Fellow-led workshops/talks for domain-specific skill sharing;
Bi-weekly fellowship cohort dinners and Boston-based networking events;
Cohort trips to Washington, D.C. and San Francisco to speak with leading experts in technology development, policy research, venture capital, and civil society;
Weekly project progress and support meetings.
December 10, 2019
Application period begins; online application opens at 9:00am EST.
January 17, 2020
Application period ends; online application closes at 11:59pm EST.
Late January - Early February
Fellowship interviews are conducted for short-listed candidates.
Late February - Early March
Fellowship finalists are notified.
March 16, 2020
Fellowship decisions are publicly announced.
End of August
TAPP Fellows orientation.
September 2020 - May 2021
We are searching for fellows with a few important qualifications:
1. Applicants should have significant professional experience in their respective domain—whether that be tech, policy, venture capital, or civil society.
Core to our model is the idea that fellows will be able to learn from each other. For that reason, we are interested in hosting fellows who know the ins and outs of their field enough to bring and share that knowledge throughout the fellowship. Ideal candidates may be current or former Congressional staffers, venture capitalists, or industry technologists with at least a few years of experience.
2. Applicants should have a demonstrated commitment to, or interest in, tech and public purpose through their current or previous work.
Fellows should feel passionate about addressing topics in technology and public purpose, and should be able to clearly articulate thoughtful, relevant research areas in which they hope to have impact.
Other requirements include:
Applicant(s) must be fluent in English.
Applicant(s) must be able to make a full-time commitment to the fellowship program the duration of the 2020-2021 academic year, and be able to reside in person in Cambridge, MA during that time.
Fellow(s) must have legal status to work and reside in the United States.
How to Apply
A full application submission will require you to:
- Submit a current CV or resume.
- Attach a research proposal that engages a tech and public purpose topic of interest to you. This proposal should include a description of the problem you are looking to address, an outline of the methods that will inform your research, and a summary of the public purpose mission you hope to achieve and/or the goal of your work.
- List three (3) references.
- Answer a few short-answer questions.
For any questions about the fellowship, please visit our FAQ section. If you have additional inquires that are not answered by the FAQ, reach out to our team via firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications for the TAPP Fellowship have now closed. For more information, please visit our FAQ page.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I qualify as a “practitioner”?
We classify anyone doing industry or direct policy work—e.g. software engineers, product managers, Congressional staffers, venture capital investors—as a practitioner. We are interested in anyone who has thorough field knowledge and can bring that perspective and expertise to the table during the fellowship program.
I do not have any academic/think tank research experience. Can I still apply?
Yes! We encourage anyone who feels passionate about the technology and public purpose sphere to apply, even if you’ve never had academic/think tank research experience. In fact, our program focuses less on hard core research, and more on practical learning in order to inform your fellowship project and topic-specific questions.
Who reviews the fellowship applications?
The fellowship applications will be reviewed by a committee at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, comprised of relevant staff and faculty members.
When are chosen fellows notified?
Fellows will be notified in late February/early March with their acceptance. Please reference our Timeline page to see a general overview of our application and fellowship timeline.
Will I receive updates on the status of my application before final decisions are made?
You will not receive formal updates on the status of your application. However, if your application makes it to the interview round you will be contacted to schedule an interview.
Are non-resident fellowships offered as well?
The TAPP Fellowship is strictly an in-residence fellowship; we will not be offering non-resident fellowships at this time.
I cannot relocate to Cambridge, MA for a full year, but can participate in an in-residence fellowship for a shorter period. Am I still eligible?
Having fellows in-residence contributes to a core part of the fellowship’s structure and takeaways. Therefore, all fellows must be willing to relocate to Cambridge for the full tenure of the fellowship.
Does TAPP and/or the Belfer Center sponsor vises for international fellows?
Yes. Belfer will assist with visa sponsorship for selected fellows.
Are TAPP fellows considered to be employees of Harvard University?
According to Harvard Universities policies, fellows are not considered employees of Harvard University. However, fellows will be eligible to receive benefits, access to Harvard libraries, an ID card and a Harvard email address.
As a TAPP fellow, can I continue/pursue other projects or work?
The TAPP Fellowship is a full-time commitment that is most rewarding if engaged with in full capacity. For that reason, we strongly encourage Fellows to focus on their project at Harvard for the duration of the fellowship and not conduct external work.
How much funding do fellows receive?
Exact funding amounts will be determined by fellow experience and Harvard pay scales. Please reach out to email@example.com for more information.