Fellowship Opportunity – Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University

September 18, 2020

The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University invites applications from a broad range of researchers and practitioners who will work over the course of the year on pressing issues in ethics. Faculty in arts and sciences and professional schools, postdoctoral scholars, practitioners, and researchers from industry, government, and NGOs are eligible to apply.

For the 2021-22 academic year, the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics will focus on the theme of “A New Social Compact?” The COVID-19 pandemic has delivered a shock to the nations of the world. Variations in national responses and experiments with economic and health policies have implicitly revealed different conceptions of the social compact (a phrase we use loosely to refer to shared understandings of what members of societies believe they owe to each other). In the United States, the experience of the pandemic has been defined by failures of governance, leadership, and technocratic expertise. These failures have led to the stark exposure of underlying health inequities, along with the broad social vulnerability for individuals, and the polity generally, that flows from inequality. The centrality of care provision to our economy and social well-being has also been brought to the fore, made visible by the sudden disappearance of structures like schools that have come to provide so much of the care and services of the social safety net in the United States. Restrictions on international travel, the fracturing of global supply chains, rationing of medical supplies, and attempts to develop a vaccine all call into question the social compact at a global level. While much innovation in political philosophy, political economy, and public policy has been in development for the last decade, since the global financial crisis, the pandemic presents an occasion for harvesting the fruits of that work with the goal of articulating the foundations of a new social compact. We invite applications connected to any dimension of this broad field of inquiry. We see the nature of the failures to be addressed as so multifaceted as to make this theme not very restrictive; however, in our usual fashion, we will also consider applications that fall outside the parameters of this thematic description.

All eligible applicants are encouraged to apply. Priority will be given to early career scholars and practitioners.

Fellows-in-Residence will be expected to devote the majority of their time to their individual projects and to participate in regular work-in-progress seminars. In addition, Fellows are strongly encouraged to participate in the Center’s programming, which includes public lectures, themed seminars and reading groups, conferences, workshops, and lunch discussions. 

This Fellowship is intended to be residential. With the exception of travel to conferences and meetings, Fellows are expected to be in residence in the Boston area at least four working days per week during the term. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a waiver of this requirement for the 2020-21 academic year. If the public health crisis continues, we will consider a waiver for the 2021-22 academic year, but our hope is to return to in-person, residential programming by September 2021.

For the last few years, the Center has offered the possibility of joint fellowship opportunities with the following Centers; we continue to offer that possibility, with specific potential affiliations to be worked out on a case-by-case basis:

  • Carr Center for Human Rights at the Harvard Kennedy School
  • Center for Bioethics at the Harvard Medical School
  • Center for Research on Computation and Society at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University
  • Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at the Harvard Law School

Applicants will be invited to indicate on the application form whether they wish to be considered for a joint fellowship position with one of these Centers. If selected, the joint fellowship will offer access to development opportunities and programming at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and our partnering Center.


Applicants must have a PhD, professional degree, or a minimum of 5 years of equivalent professional experience. Applicants from any discipline or professional field will be considered. Those who have previously held a yearlong residential Fellowship at the Center are not eligible; this limitation does not apply to former Undergraduate Fellows or former Graduate Fellows. The Fellows-in-Residence Program runs the course of the academic year, typically from the beginning of September through the end of May, and is open to all applicants who meet the above criteria, regardless of citizenship.


Faculty: We offer a stipend of one-half of your base academic year salary, up to $75,000, and a research allowance of up to $3,000 for approved expenses directly related to your work, such as travel, books, and research assistance.

Post-Docs: The stipend for post-doctoral fellows will be $60,000 for 2021-22. We also provide a research allowance of up to $3,000 for approved expenses directly related to your work, such as travel, books, and research assistance.

Practitioners: Practitioner stipends will be determined on a case-by-case basis, commensurate with experience. We also provide a research allowance of up to $3,000 for approved expenses directly related to your work, such as travel, books, and research assistance. 


To apply, you will need to complete an online application form, found at ethics.harvard.edu/fellows-in-residence, which includes submission of the following in .pdf, .doc, or .docx form:

  • Cover letter stating your background and interest in the Fellows-in-Residence Program (suggested length 1-2 pages or 850 words)
  • CV
  • Research proposal (suggested length 3-5 pages or 2,500 words)
  • Recent writing sample (suggested length under 30 pages or 7,000 words)
  • Names and contact information of three professional references (letters are not accepted until a candidate reaches a later stage of the process)

The deadline for submitting this application is November 16, 2020. Please note that the application form will be saved automatically while in progress, but no edits or alterations will be allowed once you have submitted the application. Should you have any questions regarding this application process, please send an email to EJSafraFellowships@fas.harvard.edu.