Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship


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

The wide variety of new digital media tools and platforms has created an unprecedented opportunity for people from all disciplines and backgrounds to share observations and personal narratives with global audiences online. These storytelling tools are powerful resources as we seek to expand our knowledge of pressing transnational issues and build ties across cultures.

For the 2016-17 competition, the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship will accept proposals for only multi-country projects. With this multi-country format, Fellows will be able to undertake an in-depth examination of a globally relevant issue, comparing and contrasting how that issue is experienced from one country to another. 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 website. Stories deemed by National Geographic to be of interest or merit may be considered for publication on other National Geographic platforms. In addition to receiving Fulbright benefits (for travel, stipend, health, etc.), Fellows will receive instruction in digital storytelling techniques, applicable to Fellows’ projects, including effective blog writing, video production, photography, and other relevant training, by National Geographic staff prior to their departure. Fellows will be paired with one or more National Geographic editors for continued editorial direction and mentoring throughout their Fulbright grant period. Fellows will provide material for a blog on the National Geographic website at least once per week, and will have the opportunity to develop additional content for use by National Geographic and the Department of State.

Applications for the 2016-2017 academic year will be accepted for the following themes:

  • Our Human Story
    Themes: Culture/Geo-politics, Contemporary Social Issues (Sociology, Urbanization, Crisis, Migration)
  • Our Living Planet
    Themes: Places, Environment, Climate Change, Conservation, Landscapes, Oceans
  • Critical Species
    Themes: Conservation of Species, Extinction (Storytelling in this area should include a public policy frame)
  • New Frontiers
    Themes: Innovations in areas of Health, Medicine, Technology, Space, Energy, Maritime issues.

2016-2017 Competition Deadline: October 13, 2015 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Visit us.fulbrightonline.org for more information.

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2014-2015 Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.