The Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) fosters understanding of the world by immersing promising individuals in the study of a country, region, or globally important issue and by sharing the benefits of their knowledge with society.
We believe that knowledge and understanding encourage wiser public policy and enlightened private involvement, whether in government, activism, education, journalism, development, arts or business. Fellows of our program receive an extraordinary opportunity to explore their study topic firsthand in great depth over an extended period in a country or region principally outside the United States, while developing writing and communication skills. We disseminate the knowledge they gain to a broader public, and encourage Fellows to share and use the understanding they acquire throughout their professional lives. Our aim is to contribute to the development of informed leaders.
The Institute pursues its mission by awarding fellowships at least two-years long to young women and men who demonstrate initiative, integrity, good communication skills, seriousness of purpose, and enthusiasm for their chosen fields.
The Institute invests in individuals who have great expectations and shares with them the risk of uncertain results. The Institute hopes that its fellow will not only grow personally but make significant contributions to public life in the United States and beyond.
The Institute frees the fellows from the demands and routine of their professional lives and gives them the time and resources to explore and to fulfill their intellectual promise through a self-designed program of study.
Except within the expansive boundaries of "current world affairs," and with the geographic limitation that fellows must study outside the United States, the Institute's criteria are broad. Fellowship candidates must show they are able to carry out their proposed study topic but need not meet specific educational or other prerequisites. The Institute pursues diversity.
To give our investment many decades to pay off, fellows must be under 36 at the time of application. The Institute does not underwrite the pursuit of academic degrees (although many fellows go on to seek advanced degrees) or formal research. It does not fund the writing of books (although many fellows go on to write books). Fellows are free to pursue their avenue of inquiry—investigating, absorbing, and reflecting, then reporting on their findings to the Institute, in the form of a monthly newsletter.
George Serunjogi testifying before the Uganda Parliament, 2002
“His appearance foreshadowed the gothic turn the story would take next. A few months after his wife left him, he explained, a man had come to his house and splashed acid on his face, leaving him with grotesque burns. He couldn’t identify his attacker – but he pointedly mentioned that neither his wife, nor the Big Man, whom he refused to refer to by name, had bothered to visit him in the hospital.” [read newsletter]
— Andrew Rice
ICWA Fellow (2002-2004)