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.
The Technology and Public Purpose (TAPP) Fellowship provides a unique opportunity for practitioners at the intersection of responsible technology development 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, is open to individuals from all disciplines with a demonstrated interest in tech and public purpose in their work. Fellows are appointed for a one-year term and are part of a cohort responsible for conducting research in a tech and public purpose field, such as improving digital media, managing the geopolitics of technology, designing ethical AI and biotech, improving the alignment of new forms of work with human fulfillment, and in general shaping technological progress to enhance public purposes.
The TAPP Fellowship is:
A one academic year program (September – May)
Full-time, in-residence (35-hours/week, based in Cambridge, MA)*
Paid, including travel stipends
*Relocation requirement dependent on COVID-19 restrictions for the 2021-2022 academic year.
As a fellow, you will be able to engage with a range of events and opportunities including (but not limited to):
Tailored fellowship seminars by technology and public purpose experts ;
Access to graduate-level courses offered through Harvard, MIT and other Boston-area schools;
Fellow-led workshops/talks for domain-specific skill sharing;
Boston-based networking events; and more.
December 1, 2020
Application period begins; online application opens at 9:00am ET.
January 25, 2021
Application period ends; online application closes at 11:59pm ET.
Late January - Early February
Fellowship interviews are conducted for short-listed candidates.
Late February - Early March
Fellowship finalists are notified.
Fellowship decisions are publicly announced.
TAPP Fellows orientation.
September 2021 - May 2022
TAPP Fellowship Information Session
Informational session hosted by the Technology and Public Purpose Project to learn more about the TAP fellowship application requirements and tips for applying.
We are searching for fellows with a few important qualifications.
1. Applicants should have significant professional experience and subject matter knowledge in their respective domain—whether that be science, technology, policy, investing, or advocacy.
Core to our model is that fellows will be able to learn from each other. Fellows should 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, policy professionals, investors, software engineers, product managers, or civil society advocates.
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.
3. Applicants should be self-starters who are confident in leading personal projects and conducting independent research.
Fellows are expected to work on an individual project throughout their 9-month appointment. Though TAPP and the wider Harvard ecosystem will be able to provide resources and support, much of the project definition, progress and outcomes will be led by the fellows themselves. Applicants should have previous experience developing and executing project plans with clear outputs.
Other requirements include:
Applicant(s) must be fluent in English.
Applicant(s) must be able to make a full-time (35 hours/week) 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.
*This is pending updates to COVID-19 limitations for the 2021-2022 academic year.
How to Apply
A full application submission will require you to:
- Submit a current CV or resume.
- A research proposal (max. 3 pages or approx. 1500 words) focusing on the questions below.
- What is the problem you are looking to address; who are the stakeholders this problem is trying to address?
- How do you plan on conducting research and developing your output?
- What is the public purpose mission and desired impact of your work?
- What is your proposed fellowship project output? How do you plan on accomplishing it in 9 months?
- Why is now a critical time to be focusing on this topic?
- List three (3) references.
- Answer the following short-answer questions:
1. Why are you interested in the TAPP Fellowship program and what do you hope to get out of the experience?
2. What makes you a top candidate for this fellowship?
3. Tell us about a time that you worked on a project/imitative/ research etc. from start to finish in the tech and public purpose field or related area.
The online application for the TAPP Fellowship are open from December 1, 2020 at 9am to January 25, 2021 at 11:59pm ET.
For any questions about the fellowship, please visit our FAQ section.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does COVID-19 impact the incoming 2021-2022 cohort?
The ability for the fellowship to operate in-person and on-campus is highly dependent on the COVID-19 pandemic and Harvard University restrictions. Although, we are uncertain about what the operating conditions will be for the 2021-2022 fellowship, we will update our website with relevant information as we receive it.
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 Fellowship Details page to see a general overview of our application and fellowship timeline. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview in January.
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.
What are examples of previous fellowship projects?
You can learn more about the projects our inaugural cohort of fellows is working through the Perspectives on Public Purpose blog series.
What does "public purpose" mean to TAPP?
Public purpose is a collection of societal values that we as the public look to uphold, such as privacy, safety and security, transparency and accountability, diversity and inclusion, and more. Much of our research at TAPP delves into who “the public” is and what their definition of public purpose is.
It appears TAPP has a U.S. focus. Can I apply with an internationally focused project?
TAPP does not have an explicit U.S. focus, though by nature of proximity, we do engage more with U.S. policy. With that in mind, we encourage you to apply with a project that is either U.S. or internationally focused.
Are non-resident fellowships offered as well?
The TAPP Fellowship is strictly an in-residence fellowship; we do not offer 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 visas 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 have 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 expect 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?
The TAPP Fellowship is a full-time, paid position. Exact funding amounts are determined by Harvard pay scales.