About Our Fellowships


Are you a Ph.D student?

We are accepting applications from Ph.D students in the social sciences who have already completed all departmental and institutional requirements for the Ph.D. degree, including approval of the dissertation proposal. The only requirement not completed must be the writing and where required, the defense, of the dissertation.

Are you studying the social sciences?

The following areas of study apply: anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, social psychology, sociology. Work inspired by these disciplines carried out in interdisciplinary programs such as ethnic studies, women's studies, or American studies is also accepted.

Are you enrolled in a program in the U.S.?

The Center for Engaged Scholarship fellowships are open to all Ph.D students who meet the fellowship qualifications, as long as they are enrolled in a U.S. Ph.D program. This includes foreign nationals and undocumented individuals.

Application and Selection Process


01The application portal for the 2017-2018 Fellowship closed on December 15, 2016.

02Initial reviewers will select the strongest applications, who will be reviewed in a second round and will include written comments that will be added to the applications selected for final review.

03In the final round, a committee will choose the winning applications. Successful applicants will be announced the final week of April 2017, and will recieve a stipend of $25,000 paid out over a nine (9) month period.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for the CES dissertation fellowship?

The CES fellowship must be submitted through the online application portal. To access the portal, click here. All application materials, requests for references and reminders to referees will be through this portal. You can also check your status through this portal. The CES fellowship application is also mobile-friendly.

When is the deadline for the 2017-2018 CES fellowship application?

The hard deadline is Thursday, December 15th 2016.

How can I download recommender forms?

The entire application process is automated so once you have entered the email contact information for your recommenders they will receive a system-generated request for their recommendations to be submitted to the portal.

Do you have anything I can give to recommenders who may not be familiar with the Center for Engaged Scholarship?

Yes. If your faculty recommenders are not familiar with the Center for Engaged Scholarship, we have prepared a letter for you to give them that explains what we are doing.  The explanation is intended to clarify that we are interested in supporting high quality scholarly work.  To download the letter, click here.

Can I apply if I am not a U.S. citizen?

Yes, the award is not dependent on citizenship.

Can I apply if I am a student at a university outside the U.S.?

No. The fellowship is limited to students currently enrolled in  U.S. universities.

I am in an English Department, but I believe that my research represents engaged scholarship. Can I apply?

No, the competition is limited to the social sciences or interdisciplinary programs in the social sciences.

I am a politically engaged conservative. Can I apply?

Yes, if you can make a compelling case that your work has the potential to advance an important progressive value.

Will you be willing to consider an application that is broadly theoretical in content?

Yes, but the applicant must have a convincing argument about how this theoretical contribution could facilitate progressive change.

Does my dissertation have to have an explicit political conclusion or could the political implications remain implicit?

They can remain implicit. We recognize that some dissertation committees will frown on work that is too ‘political’. Your task is to simply persuade our reviewers that your findings might have significant political consequences.

Is CES looking for a particular methodological approach?

We do not subscribe to a preferred methodology. All methodological perspectives used in the social sciences are welcomed.

Does CES fellowship have a thematic emphasis for this year’s applications?

At this time, CES has not selected a thematic emphasis. However, that may change in the future and it will be announced in the call for applications.

Since the CES fellowship is intended for graduate students in U.S. universities does CES expect to support only research on US specific topics?

No, the research could focus on global dynamics or the analysis of a foreign nation, but there must, ultimately, be some connection to progressive politics in the U.S.

Can I apply for the CES fellowship although I received another dissertation-year fellowship?

You can apply only if the other fellowship is $5,000 or less. We want to make sure our funds go to students who need our support.

How will my application be evaluated?

Your application will go through a multi-step review and it will be read by scholars from different disciplines in the social sciences but working in the same area of research. We advise you to write for a generalist audience and avoid excessive use of disciplinary terminology.

Can I submit an application by fax or via email attachment if the online submission system fails?

Only online applications submitted through our online portal will be accepted.  Please submit your application in advance of the deadline to accommodate any technical problems.

Can I apply if I plan to reach ABD status after the due date of the application?

You may apply only in the event that you will be ABD by February 28, 2017.   We recognize that requirements to be ABD vary by institution, so we are using the definition of your particular institution.  The CES fellowship is intended for graduate students who will be writing their dissertations during the fellowship period which begins in September 2017.

Are only full-time students eligible?

Yes, we want to support students who will be able to make substantial progress on the dissertation in the fellowship year.

Can you tell us what the reviewers will expect to see in our application?

In addition to an applicant’s academic background, reviewers will expect to see a strong explanation of how the research could inform progressive change in the United States.

Are we expected to abide by the restrictions on word limit and general formatting requirements?

Yes, you are expected to do so as our system will not allow you to upload your application if you do not conform to the requirements specified.

Can I submit two applications for the fellowship competition?

No, you may not submit more than one.

What will happen if I cannot submit my application through the online portal to meet the deadline?

We recommend you plan to submit well ahead of the deadline to avoid any technical glitches at the last minute.

Can I submit drafts and make changes to the application?

Once you have created an account on the portal you will have the ability to work with various drafts and make changes in the application like updating the list of recommenders, etc. CES will not be able to view the in-process application until it is complete and submitted. However, we caution you to save any changes you make to the application.

Do you have examples of proposals that have been awarded fellowships?

We do not have examples of proposals to share with applicants. Each proposal is unique and we believe carries its own strength and limitations. You may find the ‘exemplary works’ section on this website helpful to provide you with ideas on how social science research can inform progressive change.

Is there a template or writing guide available to write a proposal for the CES fellowship?

Although we do not have any kind of template, we highly recommend that applicants use The Art of Writing Proposals to develop these proposals.

Can I submit my application although my letters of recommendation have not been submitted?

Yes, you may submit your application and we will add your letters of recommendation to the application after they are filed. Your application is complete only AFTER all three of your recommendations and other supporting documents have been submitted. However, we urge you to provide your recommenders ample time to write the recommendation letters.

Am I eligible if I am close to completing my doctoral dissertation?

No you are not eligible to apply for the fellowship if you are close to completing your dissertation. You are however eligible to apply if you have advanced to candidacy, completed your research and plan to begin writing up your chapters.

How will you assess whether I am close to completing the dissertation or not?

We gather information about that from the timeline narrative you provide in your application. We also ask your recommenders to specifically comment on your writing plans for the 2016-17 academic year.  Your dissertation chair will have to also report on your progress in her/his recommendation letter.

I received a dissertation fellowship for 2016-17. Am I still eligible to apply?

If you are still writing up our chapters then you are eligible to apply for the fellowship. We do not take into account any fellowships received in prior years.

You have not identified education, social work, or public health as being eligible for the CES fellowship. Would you consider work in these fields?

No, work in these fields is not eligible. We have limited resources and we need to focus our efforts.

Although I am enrolled in a U.S. university my dissertation research focuses on another country. Am I still eligible for the CES dissertation fellowship competition?

You are eligible for the fellowship competition but you must explain how your findings could contribute to progressive change in the U.S.

Although I filed my application materials, I am unable to push the submit button as the portal shows that my recommendation letters are on pending status. What can I do to submit my application materials?

​Your application will be advanced to review status automatically once the 3 recommendations are filed on the portal​. You do not have to do anything. We will be pre-screening applications on a regular basis ​to ensure recommendations get filed in a timely manner.

I am  planning to be advanced to candidacy in early spring of 2017. Am I still eligible to apply for the CES fellowship?

Yes, you may still apply as long as you complete your requirements to be advanced to candidacy ​on or before February 28th, 2017. This is a hard deadline and you must provide documentation from your dissertation chair/graduate division that you have advanced to candidacy. If you do not provide documented proof you will be deemed ineligible for the fellowship.

Our Inaugural CES Fellows 2016-2017


The Center for Engaged Scholarship, a project of Community Initiatives, is pleased to announce our 2016-2017 inaugural fellows. These four winners will receive $25,000 to support the writing of their Ph.D. dissertations.

Below are the list of winners, along with a short description of their submitted projects:

George Aumoithe (Department of History, Columbia University)

Epidemic Preparedness in the Age of Chronic Illness: Public Health and Welfare Politics in the United States, 1965-2000

This project examines federal social welfare and healthcare policy during the 1970s into the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s. While the early Medicare and Medicaid programs sought to expand healthcare to vulnerable groups, stagflation worried policymakers. As the 1970s continued, cost containment trumped access to the nation's healthcare system. The increasing commonness of chronic disease also furthered an ideology of individualism and personal responsibility that obscured the communal threat from infectious diseases. A history of health planning from the Johnson to Clinton administrations is interwoven with New York City’s municipal hospitals to illustrate the translation of federal policies on the ground. This project shows how the AIDS epidemic is better understood within the context of 1970s austerity, which exacerbated inequality and undermined the nation’s disaster preparedness. This project combines the history of public policy, health institutions, and grassroots advocacy to assess the consequences of healthcare’s tenuous place within the welfare state.

Megan Brown (Department of Geography, University of Washington)

Mobile Minimum Wage Policies and Labor Union Campaigns in the U.S.

The Fight for $15 is a rapidly growing movement for higher minimum wages and on-the-job rights for low-wage workers. My dissertation investigates the strategic and practical mechanisms through which labor unions, progressive worker and community organizations, and policy makers are spreading $15/hour minimum wages throughout the U.S. Because the diffusion of these campaigns across the U.S. is still in process, an important and brief window is currently open for the empirical investigation of the spatial strategies employed by labor organizations, the variation of these strategies across locations, and the generalized patterns of movement of minimum wage increases as they proliferate throughout the country. This project takes the form of a three-part comparative case study, investigating both the connective flows and moments of disjuncture between the sites in which campaigns for higher minimum wages have been executed.

Juyoung Lee (Department of Sociology, Brown University)

Environmental Outcomes in Multiple Spatial Scales

My dissertation research project aims to offer multilevel accounts of environmental inequalities that highlight both neighborhood characteristics and broader social contexts where neighborhoods are embedded. In particular, I examine how firms, governments, and environmental movement organizations shape geographic variation in chemical hazards released from industrial facilities in the US between 2000 and 2010. Environmental justice scholars focusing on the racial and socioeconomic composition of neighborhoods have demonstrated disproportionate environmental burden imposed on disadvantaged social groups. My dissertation extends this line of research by investigating large-scale determinants of local environmental outcomes. I employ multilevel modeling, spatial data analysis techniques, and geographic information systems to analyze datasets obtained from the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Census Bureau, Dun and Bradstreet, and other multiple sources. By elucidating neighborhood- and macro-level mechanisms shaping local environmental outcomes, my dissertation will generate policy implications for improving environmental qualities and for addressing environmental inequalities.

Ayca Zayim (Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin)

How Financial Power Really Works: Unpacking the Black Box of Monetary Policymaking and Central Banks’ Ties to Finance

The 2008 Global Financial Crisis has revealed the dramatic rise of finance in the post-Bretton Woods era. Despite scholars’ consensus about financiers’ influence over economic policymaking, we still know very little about how policymakers interact with financial interests. My dissertation focuses on the relationship between central banks in emerging economies and the financial community in order to understand how financial power operates. Specifically, I aim to answer two sets of questions: (1) To what extent does empirical evidence support claims that the financial community has growing influence over the central bank? (2) What is the process of monetary policymaking? What are the conditions under which policymakers conform to, or deviate from, financial interests? I answer these questions by comparing the policies of two central banks in emerging economies over time (pre- and post-the Global Financial Crisis): the South African Reserve Bank and the Turkish Central Bank. I operationalize and measure the financial community’s influence over central bank decisions using financial data on swap agreements. I draw on public texts and over 120 semi-structured interviews with central bankers, and financiers in South Africa, Turkey, and London in order to unpack the relations between the central banks and the financial community.

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