Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

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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 globally significant theme. This Fellowship is made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society.

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 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.

  • Fellows will receive instruction in digital storytelling techniques—including effective blog writing, video production, and photography—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.
  • Fellows will have the opportunity to develop additional content for use by National Geographic and the Department of State.

For 2015, applications will be accepted on the following themes:

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

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

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

The 2014 deadline closes on October 14, 2014. Visit Us.fulbrightonline.org to apply.

2014-2015 Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows
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Botswana: Daniel Koehler

Daniel Koehler

Daniel Koehler, a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow to Botswana, will create a documentary film that tells the story of the San living near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Historically members of a huntergatherer society, the San were relocated from their ancestral homeland to designated settlements, which spurred severe socio-cultural change. Through individuals' lives, Daniel's film will examine the larger issues of the situation with particular emphasis on San identity and membership in a modern state, promoting healthy dialogue about threatened cultures.

Daniel is a documentary filmmaker who strives to raise awareness of socially significant issues through compelling characters and dynamic storytelling. He began his filmmaking career directing, shooting and editing the award-winning short documentary The Tobacco King, which follows white Zimbabwean farmer George Botha’s efforts to cultivate a new life in Zambia after losing his home in Zimbabwe. The film played in film festivals across the United States, including Starz Denver where it received a Special Jury Prize for its “unflinching and nuanced portrait.” His latest film, Win or Lose, which follows a photographer’s campaign against a discriminatory amendment to the North Carolina Constitution, won a Student Academy Award and premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival. Daniel currently works with twotime Academy Award nominated filmmaker Marshall Curry in Brooklyn, New York. He collaborated with Marshall on his film Point and Shoot, which tells the story of a young Baltimore native who set off for Libya to join the rebels fighting dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary.

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Cambodia: Erin Moriarty Harrelson

Erin Moriarty-Harrelson

Erin Moriarty Harrelson is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at American university, specializing in deaf people and sign language in Cambodia; humanitarianism, development and NGOs; and social movements. Her dissertation focuses on one of the ensuing cultural shifts in Cambodia after the exponential growth of the NGO sector—the development of Cambodian Sign Language and the possibility of a growing sense of shared identity among deaf people. Erin earned a B.A. in Art History and Anthropology from Smith College and an M.A. in Communication in Contemporary Society from Johns Hopkins University. Erin is the recipient of the 2014 American University Doctoral Student Research Award. She herself is deaf, and was the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) Miss Deaf America from 2004 to 2006. Erin has worked for the American School for the Deaf, Gallaudet University, and now works at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the National Institutes of Health.

As a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow in Cambodia, Erin will document the lives of deaf Cambodians as they encounter each other for the first time and learn a new language, creating the first ethonography of deaf individuals in Cambodia, beyond raising awareness, this project would have implications for improving development practices and policies. She will travel to cities where NGOs have identified large numbers of deaf people to collect stories: Phnom Penh, Kampot, Kampong Cham, Battambang, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap. Digital storytelling techniques such as filmed interviews are particularly well suited to tell the stories of people who use sign language, as it is inherently visual. Erin gained experience with digital ethnography on prior research trips in 2012 and 2013 to Phnom Penh and Kampot.

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Canada: Ann Chen

Ann Chen

Ann Chen will complete her Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship in Canada. She will travel along the proposed path of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, researching and documenting the impacted communities and geographies along the way. Using opensource mapping tools developed by Public Lab, a non-profit citizen science organization, Ann will create a multilayered collective storytelling document that incorporates participatory GIS, sound ethnography and data visualizations.

Ann is an artist, researcher and organizer. Her work engages with social and geographical issues using photography, sound, video, sculpture and digital media. In 2013, she co-founded The Nomadic Department of the Interior (NDOI), a creative research group developing land-based cultural projects and productions. NDOI operates Phats Valley Residency in Truro, Massachusetts and an incubator space in Portland, Oregon. She was a summer fellow at NYU-Poly’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) researching urban agricultural practices, environmental sensors and data collection. She was a recipient of the Green Grant from the NYU Office of Sustainability. Her team won the Best Community Impact Award at the New York City’s Reinvent Payphones Challenge. In 2011, Ann was a summer practitioner-in-residence at Rebuild Foundation, a culture-driven redevelopment non-profit in St. Louis, Missouri. She also served as the Executive

Director of Triangle Arts Association, a non-profit arts organization in Brooklyn, NY. She is an active member of the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab), a citizen science community and non-profit organization. Public Lab develops and applies opensource tools for environmental exploration and investigation.

Ann’s work has been exhibited at the 92ndStY Tribeca, the Gallatin Galleries at NYU, and St. Cecilia’s Convent in Brooklyn, New York. She was a Critical Writing Fellow at Recess, New York. She received her Master’s from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and her B.A. from Wesleyan University.

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Mexico: Michael Waldrep

Michael Waldrep

With the Fulbright-National Geographic Fellowship, Michael Waldrep will travel to Mexico City to document that city's urban form and a sense of the twenty-two million people living within it. Using writing, mapping, data visualization, photography and video, he plans to tell the story of that place, focusing specifically on the periphery of the city. Throughout the ever-expanding outskirts of the city, millions live in quasilegal informal settlements—but so too do some of the nation's most prosperous citizens, and countless more in the middle class. Partnering with residents and local urban planners and artists, Michael will compile his research and multimedia on those sprawling districts into an online platform that he hopes will be of use to residents of Mexico City and of interest to readers internationally.

Michael is a documentary filmmaker, multimedia artist, and researcher focused on cities. A Los Angeles native, he was educated in film theory and production at UC Berkeley and the NYU Tisch School of the Arts before earning a Master’s in City Planning from MIT in 2014. He’s worked professionally in creative and technical roles on non-fiction and narrative projects in New York and San Francisco, and in his time at MIT served as a research assistant to Professor Anne Whiston Spirn, producing a series of short documentaries on the twenty-five year long West Philadelphia Landscape Project. At MIT, Michael was also a member of the research and writing team for OfficeUS—the American entry to the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale—and served as an instructor of advanced video production in the Department of Art, Culture, and Technology. His master’s thesis was entitled “Informality in New York City—A Spatial History of Lofts, Squats, and Illegal Conversions,” and investigated the phenomenon of informal housing in that city through interviews, photography, mapping, archival research, and writing. He will spend summer 2014 in Zürich producing film projects and exhibitions for the award winning architecture and research firm Urban Think Tank.

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United Kingdom: Mimi Onuoha

Mimi Onuoha

Mimi Onuoha is a New York-based researcher, artist, and educator. Raised in Texas, she received a Bachelor’s in Anthropology from Princeton University and a Master’s from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). Her work focuses on exploring the overlaps of online and offline identities and investigating how technology and culture influence and respond to each other.

For her Fulbright-National Geographic Fellowship, through her project entitled: Worlds Apart, Worlds Together, Mimi will be creating visual maps of the mobile/computer browsing history and personal geolocation data taken from a demographically diverse group of Londoners. Using this data, she will be able to tell the story of Londoners' physical and digital overlaps and separations. She will also explore if the structural realities of the city are replicated online by examining whether Londoners interact more with people from different demographic groups in urban offline spaces or digital online spaces. The goal of the project is to engage with the modern realities of the web and to ask a question that holds global significance: though our world is becoming increasingly connected, are we really interacting with people who are different from us?

Mimi has spent the past year working as a User Experience Research Fellow at Mindspark Interactive Network and as a Technology Consultant for Project SAFE, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit. She currently serves as a Research Resident at NYU.

Commonly Asked Questions
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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

Applications will be accepted for projects focused on one or more of the following general themes.  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 is 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 Frame:

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 Frame:

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 Frame:

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.

 

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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.

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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.  Employees of the U.S. Department of State, and their immediate families, for a period ending one year following termination of such employment. This provision does not include part-time or temporary employees, consultants, and contract employees of the Department of State, unless such persons perform services related to the Bureau’s exchange programs.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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
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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.

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Are dependents supported by the Fellowship?

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

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May I submit a project as part of a team?

No. The Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship was created to be for individuals, not teams or tandem couples.  However, Fellows are in no way barred from collaborating on their projects with other Fulbright students and scholars who are in-country at the same time.

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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, including the magazine.  In addition, Fellows will have the opportunity to develop further content for use by National Geographic and the Department of State.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.