Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship


2015-2016 Competition Deadline: October 14, 2014 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time


The Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship was launched in 2013 as a new component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. It provides opportunities for U.S. citizens to participate in an academic year of overseas travel and digital storytelling in up to three countries on a globally significant theme. This Fellowship is made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society.

The wide variety of new digital media tools and platforms has created an unprecedented opportunity for people from all disciplines and backgrounds to share observations and personal narratives with global audiences online. These storytelling tools are powerful resources as we seek to expand our knowledge of pressing transnational issues and build ties across cultures.

Through the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, Fulbrighters will undertake an in-depth examination of a globally relevant issue, comparing and contrasting how that issue is experienced across borders. Utilizing a variety of digital storytelling tools, including text, photography, video, audio, graphic illustrations, and/or social media, Fellows will tell their stories, or the stories of those they meet, publishing their work on a a dedicated blog hosted on the National Geographic. Stories deemed by National Geographic to be of interest or merit may be considered for publication on other National Geographic platforms. In addition to receiving Fulbright benefits (for travel, stipend, health, etc.), Fellows will receive instruction in digital storytelling techniques, applicable to Fellows’ projects, including effective blog writing, video production, photography, and other relevant training, by National Geographic staff prior to their departure. Fellows will be paired with one or more National Geographic editors for continued training, editorial direction and mentoring throughout their Fulbright grant period. Fellows will provide material for a blog on the National Geographic website on a frequent and ongoing basis throughout their grant term, and will have the opportunity to develop additional content for use by National Geographic and the Department of State.

Applications for the 2015-16 academic year will be accepted for the following themes: Nature and Environment, People and Place, and Sustainability and Production (for details please see 2015-16 Fellowship Themes below).

 

Eligible Countries

Applications will be accepted for Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowships in any country to which there is an active Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Click here to see which countries are eligible.

Fields and Qualifications of Applicants

Candidates from all fields are encouraged to apply.

Preference will be given to candidates with demonstrated experience and talent in digital storytelling. Candidates must have completed at least an undergraduate degree by the commencement of the Fulbright award.

2015-16 Fellowship Themes
Applications for the 2015-16 Fellowship will be accepted for projects focused on one or more of the general themes below. Applicants interested in the special interest areas identified for under each theme are especially encouraged to apply. Following each theme and list of special interest areas, National Geographic’s editorial staff has provided a NGS Digital Storytelling Frame, which provides further context to the theme and the types of stories that they are particularly interested in having Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows tell. While applications for any innovative project under the broad themes will be eligible to be reviewed, it is recommended that applicants review this information as they develop their proposals.

Nature and Environment
Special Interest Areas: Biodiversity, Conservation, Climate Change

NGS Digital Storytelling Lens:
Humans are an integral part of the environment, depending on Earth for lifelines such as air, water, food, and a tolerable range of temperature. For the sake of ourselves and future generations, we must protect our natural resources. Stories should focus on inspiring examples of stewardship of the planet, adaptation to changing climate, restoration of healthy ecosystems, and reducing the human impact on nature.

People and Places
Special Interest Areas: Cities, Cultures, Women, Youth, Global Health

NGS Digital Storytelling Lens:
Humans have successfully colonized almost every part of Earth, and over tens of thousands of years we have developed an incredible diversity of languages, cultures, and lifestyles. Stories should focus on diverse cultures, traditional knowledge, examples of empowerment and inclusion of diversity, the special role of women and youth, trans-boundary cultures emerging from a digital age, and advances in education and global health for the betterment of all of humanity.

Sustainability and Production
Special Interest Areas: Agriculture/Food Security, Energy, Water/Oceans, the Arctic, Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Green Economy

NGS Digital Storytelling Lens:
Our greatest challenge is balancing the legitimate needs and aspirations of all people with Earth's capacity to provide in a way that can be sustained for countless generations to come. Stories should focus on inspiring examples of creating sustainable modern civilization while restoring and sharing Earth's lifelines with other species and the generations to come.

Digital Storytelling Aspect of the Fellowship
There are many definitions of Digital Storytelling. For the purpose of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, it describes the practice of using digital tools to tell a story. Fellows may produce stories that may utilize or combine text, photography, video, audio, graphic illustrations, and/or social media for the purpose of producing content suitable for a National Geographic blog. Their stories may also be disseminated digitally through National Geographic Society and Department of State platforms and associated social networking sites. National Geographic will provide training for participants and National Geographic editors will mentor and support Fellows as they produce digital stories throughout their grant period. Applicants should highlight their experience with digital storytelling as it relates to their proposed project and need not be an expert in multiple digital mediums to be selected.
Application Information

All application materials, including academic transcripts and letters of reference must be submitted in the Embark Online Application and Reference System by October 14, 2014. Hard copy submissions will not be accepted.

Please review the instructions thoroughly before beginning the Embark online application as the application components are distinct from the general application. Because of grant start dates, Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows are not eligible for Critical language Enhancement Awards.

Please carefully review the Fulbright-National Geographic Application Components, Application Tips, the Application Checklist, and Frequently Asked Questions sections, as the requirements differ from those of the traditional Fulbright grant.

Applicants must select "Academic" in the Grant Category section of the application and select “Fulbright-National Geographic Fellowship in the Special Opportunity field.

Fulbright-National Geographic applicants with questions should email Susan Muendl at smuendl@iie.org.

2014-15 Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows

Botswana: Daniel Koehler, a filmmaker based in New York City, will film a documentary on the San living near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, focusing on the loss and change of their culture.

Cambodia: Erin Moriarty Harrelson, of Washington, D.C., a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at American University, will explore the emerging culture of deaf Cambodians. She herself is deaf.

Canada: Ann Chen, an artist and researcher from New York City, will focus on mapping the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline in Canada through collective storytelling and citizen science.

Mexico: Michael Waldrep, a documentary filmmaker from Los Angeles as well as multimedia artist and researcher, will travel to Mexico City to document the city, its neighborhoods and its 22 million inhabitants through writing, mapping, data visualization, photography and video.

United Kingdom: Mimi Onuoha, a New York City-based researcher, artist and educator, will explore the chasms and overlaps between the online and offline lives of a demographically diverse group of Londoners.

To learn more about the 2014-2015 Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows, you may access their profiles.

 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

What is the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship?

The Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, launched in 2013, is a new component of the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Program that will support up to five Fellowships for one academic year of travel and multi-media storytelling on globally significant topics. Fellows will focus their stories on one or more of the program’s annual themes. Digital stories produced by Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows will receive editorial support of National Geographic’s editorial team and be published on a dedicated blog hosted on the National Geographic website. Stories deemed to be of interest or merit may be considered for publication on other National Geographic and Department of State content platforms.

Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship Fact Sheet (PDF)

What is digital storytelling?
There are many definitions of Digital Storytelling. For the purpose of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, it describes the practice of using digital tools to tell a story. Fellows may produce stories that may utilize or combine text, photography, video, audio, graphic illustrations, and/or social media for the purpose of producing content suitable for a National Geographic blog.
Who is eligible to apply? Who is the ideal candidate?

U.S. citizens of all ages and from all backgrounds are eligible to apply. Applicants may come from a broad range of fields, a variety of academic and processional backgrounds, and have diverse storytelling experiences. Candidates must have completed at least an undergraduate degree by the commencement of the program but may not hold a Ph.D. at the time of application. The ideal candidate will have a demonstrated talent for storytelling (including but not limited to publications in print, online or multimedia platforms) and an academic or professional background relevant to their proposed project.

What are the eligible themes for the 2015 application cycle? Are there definitions of the eligible themes?

For the 2015-16 application cycle, the eligible themes are: Nature and Environment, People and Places, and Sustainability and Production. See above “2015-16 Fellowship Themes” for more details on each theme.

May I submit an application on more than one of the eligible themes?

Applicants may submit only one project proposal. Project proposal must be submitted under one main theme or a combination of eligible themes. Discussion of additional themes will not be evaluated as an advantage or disadvantage to the project.

Who is ineligible?

Non- U.S. citizens and permanent residents are not eligible. Please refer to the Eligibility/Ineligibility section for more specific requirements.

Current State Department and National Geographic staff, or persons currently on assignment or who are currently working with grants funded by either organization, are ineligible to apply.

Former National Geographic staff, explorers and grantees are eligible to apply. Applicants with a previous association with National Geographic, State Department, or Fulbright, will be judged strictly on the merit of their projects. No special consideration will be given to applicants with previous ties to either organization.

Candidates may not apply to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and the Fulbright Senior Scholar Program in the same competition cycle.

Candidates may not apply for more than one type of Fulbright U.S. Student grant in a given competition cycle.

Will applications for projects in the U.S. be accepted?
No. According to the Fulbright-Hays Act, U.S. citizens and nationals cannot study in the United States through the Fulbright Program. Applications from U.S. citizens will only be accepted for projects outside the U.S. and its territories.
Are Fulbright-National Geographic applicants eligible for Critical language Enhancement Awards?
No. The timing, length and multi-country nature of Fulbright-National Geographic grants do not allow sufficient lead time for participation in the Critical Language Enhancement Award Program.
How long will the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship last?

Consistent with other components of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fellowships will be awarded for a nine-month academic year, beginning in the Fall and finishing in the late Spring or early Summer.

How many countries can I apply to travel to while on this Fellowship?

Applicants may submit proposals for grants to one, two, or three foreign countries. Applicants may not submit proposals for more than three countries.

For the nine month program, you must spend a minimum of three consecutive months in a country. Therefore, if proposing a multiple-country grant, you may split your time in one of the following ways:

  • 1 country – 9 months
  • 2 countries – 3 months or more must be spent in each country
  • 3 countries – 3 months must be spent in each country
Are there any countries that I cannot apply to travel to?

Yes. Applications will not be accepted for travel, for any length of time during the Fellowship, to countries where there is not an active Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Click here for eligible countries.

Are dependents supported by the Fellowship?

No. Dependent support is not available for Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows

May I submit a project as part of a team?
No. The Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship was created for individuals, not teams or tandem couples. However, if individuals apply to the same country(ies) as other applicants to this or to other Fulbright programs, and if selected, wish to collaborate on a project, they may do so. However, each application will be judged on its individual merit and must stand on its own in terms of feasibility.
Will my work be published by National Geographic?

Yes. Fellows will be instructed in digital storytelling techniques, including effective news story/blog writing, video production, and photography, by National Geographic staff prior to their departure and will be paired with one or more National Geographic editors for continued training, editorial direction and mentorship throughout their Fulbright grant period. Fellows will be required to provide material for a blog on the National Geographic website, on a frequent and ongoing basis throughout their grant term. In addition to the blog, National Geographic will determine how the submitted material is used on its platforms. Stories deemed by National Geographic to be of interest or merit may be considered for all National Geographic platforms. In addition, Fellows will have the opportunity to develop further content for use by National Geographic and the Department of State.

Will I be permitted to publish in other media outlets while on my Fellowship?

National Geographic will retain the “Right of First Refusal” on all materials produced by Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows during the period of the award. Fellows will be required to first propose all stories to National Geographic, including those outside of the topic area of the Fellowship. If National Geographic declines to publish a story, Fellows may request approval to propose stories to other media outlets.

Are there language requirements for this fellowship?

While foreign language skills are not strictly required for the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, the ability to communicate effectively is critical to success in any country to which Fellows will travel on this program. In some countries and for some subjects, language skills are necessary to function effectively and successfully complete a project. Applicants with relevant language skills may receive preference in the application review process. Project feasibility assessment will be based, in part, upon applicant language capabilities. In the application, candidates must explain how, given their language capabilities, they will be able to successfully carry out their proposed digital storytelling project.

What is the affiliation requirement?

The majority of Fulbrighters undertaking study/research grants affiliate with host country universities or other types of other host country organizations. Recognizing that Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows will likely draw upon a number of sources in host countries to collect their stories, applicants for this Fellowship are permitted to fulfil the affiliation requirement in one of two ways:

  1. Submit one letter of affiliation from an institution/individual in each host country with whom the applicant proposes to work. Each affiliation letter should be printed on the organization’s official letterhead and should be signed by the author. Copies of e-mail correspondence will not be accepted.
  2. Submit a list of host country institutions, contacts, and sources (specifying contact names) that the applicant plans to utilize during his/her grant program. This list should be as comprehensive as possible. Applicants should indicate the level of contact that has already been established.
Who funds this Fellowship and what level of financial and in-kind support will be provided?

Funding for this Fellowship is provided by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, through the cooperating partner organization implementing the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the Institute of International Education (IIE). All fellows will receive standard Fulbright Program benefits, including funds for travel, a living stipend, and health benefits as well as a modest professional stipend. Living stipends will be calculated based on host-country cost-of-living indices. In addition, Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows will be paired with National Geographic editors who will offer training, mentoring, and guidance. Fellows will receive instruction in digital storytelling techniques, including effective blog writing, video production, and photography, by National Geographic editorial staff prior to their departure. Over the course of the grant, Fellows will engage with National Geographic editors and other mentors on story assignments and submissions.

What does the application process consist of?

All applicants for the Fulbright-National Geographic Fellowship are required to submit an application to the Institute of International Education.

When will decisions on awards be finalized and announced for this Fellowship?

Finalists will be notified in late May or early June 2015. Fellows are required to participate in a mandatory pre-departure orientation in Washington, DC, in Summer 2015 and depart for their overseas programs in Fall 2015.

Why did the U.S. Department of State and National Geographic create this program?

The Department and National Geographic created this award in recognition of the growing importance of digital storytelling and their organizations’ related goals for international exploration and understanding. This award gives U.S. Fulbrighters a unique opportunity to examine pressing global issues and share insights with a broader public around the world.

How is the Institute of International Education (IIE) involved with this Fellowship?

The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the U.S. State Department’s implementing partner for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. IIE will publish the application materials and receive all applications for this Fellowship, administer the selection process in partnership with the U.S. State Department and the National Geographic Society, and provide planning and administrative support to Fellows before and throughout the duration of their fellowship.

I am a....

Current U.S. Student

United States citizens who are currently enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree programs are eligible to apply.  All applicants enrolled in U.S institutions must apply through their home campuses.  Find the Fulbright Program Adviser on your campus.

If you are an undergraduate student you would be eligible to apply in your senior year.  If you are a graduate student you are eligible to apply to most countries as long as you will not have a PhD degree on the application deadline.

Non-U.S. Student

If you are a non-U.S. citizen looking to applying for a Fulbright grant to study in the United States you will apply to the Fulbright Program for Foreign Students in your home country.

U.S. Citizen but not a Student

If you are a U.S. citizen, hold a bachelor’s degree, and do not have a PhD degree then you could be eligible for certain awards within the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.  Please review the program summary for the country where you would like to apply.

Artist

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program welcomes applications in the creative and performing arts.  Arts candidates for the U.S. Student Program should have relatively limited professional experience in the fields (typically 5 years or less) in which they are applying.  Artists with more experience should consider applying for Fulbright Scholar Program.

FPA

Placeholder

U.S. Professor

If you are a U.S. citizen and a professor at a U.S. institution and are interested in applying for a Fulbright Scholar Award you will need to apply through CIES.

Non U.S. Professor

If you are a non-U.S. citizen and a professor interested in applying for a Fulbright Scholar Award to the United States you would need to apply through the Fulbright Commission or U.S. Embassy in your home country.  Find out more information on the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program.