The Robert A. Levinson ICWA Fellowship

The Robert A. Levinson ICWA Fellowship

‘Call for Applications – The Robert A. Levinson

ICWA Fellowship’

The Institute of Current World Affairs, one of America’s oldest and most unusual global fellowship programs, invites applications for ICWA’s inaugural Robert A. Levinson Fellowship.

ICWA identifies highly promising young professionals, sending them on immersive Fellowships in a country, region, or globally important issue.  ICWA Fellows remain abroad for the two-year duration of their Fellowship, pursuing a self-designed, focused program of study, experience and writing.  ICWA Fellows return transformed by their experience — and go on to become leaders in their fields.  ICWA alumni fill the ranks of the country’s most sought after experts in regions across the globe, educating the American public about the world.

Launched in 1925, ICWA has adapted to dramatic changes in technology and global awareness that have taken place over the past century. Unchanged is the intensive immersion experience of an ICWA Fellowship, free from deadlines and career pressures, enabling Fellows to cultivate their talent and engage with their subject — and themselves — in ways that have profound impact.

ICWA Fellows are handpicked from a highly competitive applicant pool.  If you have keen curiosity and demonstrable interest in an overseas country or compelling issue, please send us your letter of interest to

Letters of interest must be received by March 1st, 2017 for a June 2017 appointment.

ICWA expresses its gratitude to The New York Community Trust – Robert A. and Patricia S. Levinson Award Fund for this generous grant.


Language Skills

We expect candidates to have the necessary language skills to allow to them to carry out their proposed project. Candidates proposing to go to China, Russia, Indonesia, India, or Brazil, for example, should have proficiency in Chinese, Russian, Bahasa, Hindi (or another relevant language) or Portuguese. It is too costly and time consuming to start from scratch, so we expect enough language proficiency so that candidates are able to function in the local language within a few months of arriving in the country. Exceptions have been made for unusual languages or situations, but these are rare.

Criteria for Consideration

Candidates must be under 36 years of age at the time of the due date for the initial letter of interest.

U.S. citizenship is not a requirement, but candidates must show strong and credible ties to U.S. society. A proposed Fellowship must hold the promise of enriching public life in the United States by enhancing the understanding of foreign countries, cultures, and trends. Public service, social activism or contribution to wider understanding in the United States is our ultimate purpose, out of a belief that the public can benefit from the knowledge and wisdom that our Fellows acquire.


While we expect candidates to design projects of topical interest, Fellowships are not aimed at covering news events. We do not send Fellows into war zones, or places where intense security concerns prevent Fellows from interacting with the local populace.

Fellowships are not scholarships. We do not support degree programs at universities, the writing of books, or research projects aimed at answering specific questions in a particular academic discipline.

Applicants must have excellent written and spoken English language skills and must have completed the current phase of their formal education. We do not accept applications from currently enrolled undergraduate students.


Fellows are required to write monthly newsletters, which are made available through our website to Institute members and other interested parties, including family, friends and professional associates of the Fellows. While the Institute has funded and will continue to fund artists, performers, and others who find various ways to participate in the societies they study, the immediate fruits of the Fellows’ learning are communicated principally through writing. Fellows should be prepared to share their experience with a general, well-educated audience, and not only with specialists in their field. Fellows work closely with the Executive Director, who serves as writing coach, editor, and mentor.

While many Fellows go on to pursue political or social causes at home and abroad, the purpose of a Fellowship is to learn about other societies, not to change them. Fellows are not permitted to engage in overtly political activities during their Fellowship. The Institute does not accept any government funds. Fellows must preserve that independence, in letter and in spirit.

Fellows should not expect to return to the United States during the two years of their Fellowship. ICWA Fellowships are immersive; a vital component of the Fellowship experience is remaining, without interruption, in the area of study for the duration of a Fellowship.


The Institute provides full financial support for its Fellows and their immediate, accompanying families. “Full financial support” does not mean that ICWA provides a salary or stipend to its Fellows.  Rather, the Institute provides Fellows with sufficient funding to cover their expenses, allowing them to fulfill the purposes of the Fellowship and allowing them and their families (if accompanying the Fellowship) to live in good health and reasonable comfort.  “Full financial support” also does not mean unlimited financial support; Fellows are expected to live and spend modestly.

In your letter of interest, tell us what you would do if you had a two-year, self-designed Fellowship overseas and why you’re the right person to carry it out. There is no fixed length for the letter of interest. Take the space that you need to make a cogent case for yourself. Please indicate your age, as applicants must be under the age of 36 at the time that the letter of interest is due.

Selected Fellows are expected to depart for their Fellowship within six months of their selection.

This is a competitive process. The strongest applicants will be invited to submit a more detailed application.