Policy Communication Fellowship Opportunity

Policy Communication Fellowship Announcement

The Program in Society, Population, and Environment (SPE) and the Institute for Social and Environmental Research, Nepal (ISER-N) are pleased to call for applications for Policy Communication Fellowships from qualified, highly motivated, energetic scholars interested in translating research findings into policy briefs. Fellowships will be awarded to candidates who show the greatest potential to translate complex research findings into simple, easily understandable summaries for potential beneficiaries (e.g., policy makers, stakeholders, and the general public). Our objective is to translate rigorous scientific findings into policy briefs that will impact evidence-based policy formulation.

It is our strong belief that a good understanding of the research setting, from which the findings originate and to which policy will be applied, is an essential prerequisite to producing an effective policy brief. Policy Communication Fellows will be located at the Institute for Social and Environmental Research, Nepal in Fulbari, Chitwan and jointly supervised by Prof. William G. Axinn and Prof. Dirgha J. Ghimire.

The fellowship spans 3 months, with a possible 3-month extension contingent upon funding availability. Fellows will be provided food and accommodations while in Chitwan and an additional allowance of NRS 15,000 per month (approximately US$ 150) for in-country travel and other research costs. Two Policy Communication Fellowships will be awarded for 2016.


The Policy Communication Fellowship program has two primary objectives: (1) to foster evidence-based policy formulation by translating research findings from peer-reviewed journal articles into policy briefs, and (2) to train a young generation of scientists to produce effective policy briefs.


While billions of dollars are spent each year on research targeted at improving human lives and environmental conditions around the globe, one of the consistent critiques of research programs is the failure to translate research findings into policy and practice. This shortcoming, in turn, hinders the public’s ability to benefit from social and environmental scientific advancements. As a result, many people unnecessarily endure poverty, poor health, and meager living conditions. In the last decade, international policy and research attention has focused on ways to bridge the gap between research and practice. The Policy Communication Fellowship Program joins these efforts to address this crucial gap by translating empirical research into more actionable, policy-relevant briefs, and training a new generation of scientists in effective communication practices.

About the Fellowship

The Policy Communication Fellowship Program emerged out of a highly successful, long-term collaborative research and education program between SPE at Michigan’s Population Studies Center and ISER-N. This 20-year collaborative research and education program has trained over two dozen young social and environmental scientists; generated a publically available, multilevel, 20-year panel dataset utilizing a mixed method approach; and published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. The success of this research and education program provides the foundation for bridging the gap between research and policy implementation.

Our Success Connecting Research to Policies

SPE and ISER-N have substantial experience partnering with national, regional, and local level policy makers, stakeholders and development agencies in translating research findings into national policies and programs in Nepal. Our research findings demonstrate that adolescent girls drop out of school at much higher rates than adolescent boys due to early marriage. Our research also demonstrates that enrollment in school delays marriage for both boys and girls. ISER-N created national policy briefs based on these findings–—briefs that were used by the government and donors to create new national policies that led to a massive out-of-school children’s program nationwide. Detailed findings regarding important gender differences in school drop-out processes also led to national girl-centered education policy and programs. These programs have been implemented by several NGOs, including ISER-N.

Eligibility and Expectations

Policy Communication Fellowships are open to research scholars, junior faculty, and students enrolled in Master’s and Ph.D. programs in public policy, public health, communication, sociology, anthropology, ecology, economics, education, political science and development studies. Fellows must have sufficient funds to pay for travel to and from the study site and must provide proof of health insurance (including international insurance) for the entirety of the fellowship.

In return for award acceptance, SPE and ISER-N expect the following from fellows:

How to Apply

Please compile the following into one PDF file and email to Dirgha Ghimire at nepdjg@umich.edu by April 15, 2016:

  1. Cover letter

  2. Statement of purpose (2 pages, Times New Roman, 12 pt font, 1 inch margins, double spaced)

  3. Curriculum vitae

  4. Unofficial transcript with degree posted

  5. Two letters of reference

  6. Example of written work

Important Dates

• April 25th Announcement of Fellowship Award Recipients

• May 15th Fellowship Start Date (negotiable)

Potential Funding Sources (for travel to and from study site)

University of Michigan

• LSA: https://www.lsa.umich.edu/students/scholarships/currentstudents/lsainternshipscholarship

• School of Information: https://www.si.umich.edu/careers/funding-international-activities

• International Institute: http://www.ii.umich.edu/ii/fellowshipsandgrants/graduate

• International Institute Individual Fellowships: http://www.ii.umich.edu/ii/individual-fellowships.html

• Rackham International Research Awards: http://www.rackham.umich.edu/funding/international-research

National (US) Sources

• Christianson Grant: https://www.interexchange.org/foundation/grant-funding/christianson-grant

• All People Be Happy Foundation: http://www.allpeoplebehappy.org/

• Grants: http://www.grants.gov/

• Pivot: http://pivot.cos.com/funding_main

• J.W. Saxe Memorial Fund: http://jwsaxefund.org/