Institute of Current World Affairs Fellowships

Multiple Locations
Term: Academic Year

Provide support for self-designed independent projects abroad for at least two years

The Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) advances American understanding of international cultures and affairs by sending outstanding young professionals abroad to study countries, regions and globally important issues in self-designed independent study abroad for at least two years. They have become some of this country’s leading journalists, scholars, diplomats, activists and businesspeople. ICWA nurtures the kind of deep understanding future generations will need to ensure America’s role in the world is informed by wisdom, foresight and compassion.

CWA aims for geographic distribution of fellowships over time, but is typically most interested in areas of the world and topics that are less well understood and have strategic or other importance to the U.S.—these include the Arab Middle East, Southeast Asia, among other regions, countries, and topics.

The institute weighs all proposals with no restrictions on topics or regions. However, 2021 applicants are especially encouraged to propose examining any of the following topics:

  • Political power dynamics (such as center vs. periphery) and systemic bias;
  • Demographic change and aging;
  • Environment, climate change, sustainability and conservation;
  • Culture and society (literature, art, film, etc.);
  • Effects of technological innovation on society;
  • Cities;
  • Villages

And within one of the following regions and countries: Russia, Scandinavia, Sub-Saharan Africa, or East Asian democracies (Korea or Taiwan).

A proposed fellowship must hold the promise of enriching public life in the U.S. by enhancing understanding of foreign countries, cultures, and trends. Fellows write monthly newsletters for distribution among ICWA members and other interested parties, including family, friends, and professional associates of the fellows.

ICWA provides full financial support for its fellows during the course of the fellowship experience, allowing them to live in good health and reasonable comfort and to fulfill the purposes of the fellowship.

Candidates must be under 36 years of age when their initial letters of interest are due, and they must have completed at least a bachelor’s degree. U.S. citizenship is not required, but candidates must show strong and credible ties to the U.S. Candidates should have strong communication skills in English, and should also have the necessary language skills to carry out their projects overseas, from the outset—proficiency is ordinarily expected.

Fact Sheet

Columbia Alumna/us, Not U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, U.S. Citizen, U.S. Permanent Resident
Fellowship Type:
Multiple Locations
Multiple Regions
Academic Year

Dates & Deadlines

Academic Year
Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Letters of interest are due by December 15, 2020. Selected candidates will be asked to submit full applications by March 28, 2021.