Scholars Strategy Network 2017-2019 Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Scholars Strategy Network is inaugurating a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship to support early-career scholars in any discipline who wish to engage in research and public scholarship to improve public policy and strengthen democracy. After an intensive, short boot camp at Harvard University, each fellow will be based at a university in one of SSN’s regional chapters. As many as six fellowships may be available for the inaugural 2017-19 cohort.


Scholars Strategy Network Postdoctoral Fellows will help academics insert research, facts, and scholarly perspectives into local, state, and national policy debates. Successful fellows will build webs of relationships, transforming regional Scholars Strategy Network chapters into powerful research hubs to inform the policymaking process. Fellows will:

  • Meet with scholars to learn about their areas of expertise and interest;
  • Meet with policymakers, civic leaders, and journalists to learn about their interests, policy goals, and research questions;
  • With advice and direction from senior academics, create opportunities for scholars to engage in the policy process by matchmaking and by helping scholars build lasting collaborations with non-academic stakeholders;
  • Work with scholars to prepare two-page briefs that clearly convey their research to non-academic audiences; 
  • Organize at least one significant group project that brings together multiple academic perspectives to synthesizes research and scholarly perspectives in response to a request from a non-academic stakeholder;
  • Help local policymakers, journalists, civic leaders, and member scholars access the expertise of the national Scholars Strategy Network by connecting them to out-of-state scholars and, as appropriate, arranging visits, State House or City Hall briefings, and university talks.

Research and Writing
Postdoctoral Fellows will be expected to allot fifty percent of their time to their own policy-relevant research. This research can continue doctoral work or comprise new projects that can be completed within the two-year post-doctoral appointment. Ideally, each fellow’s research should enrich the policy landscape in a way that is useful to, and guided by, local stakeholders and practitioners.

Mentorship and Training

Mentorship: SSN chapter co-leaders will connect their Fellow with a mentor from that chapter who has interest and expertise in the Fellow’s research area.  A Fellow’s research mentor can come from any of the colleges and universities with faculty members involved in the relevant SSN chapter. The research mentor (supported by the SSN national team) will help the Fellow write about research findings and prepare related materials in ways that achieve academic excellence and have an impact on policy.  In return for sustained engagement with the Fellow, research mentors will have the choice of receiving either a modest stipend or a small grant to help support joint research with the Fellow.  

Scholars Strategy Network Postdoctoral Fellows will also have several opportunities to share their work and receive advice and guidance from the academic members of Scholars Strategy Network’s Steering Committee:

  • Theda Skocpol, SSN Director and Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University
  • Lawrence R. Jacobs, Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair of Political Studies, and Director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, Hubert Humphrey School and Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota
  • Jacob S. Hacker, Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University
  • Suzanne Mettler, Clinton Rossiter Professor of American Institutions, Department of Government, Cornell University; Fellow of the Century Foundation
  • Amy Fried, Professor of Political Science, University of Maine

Training: Throughout the program, each cohort of Fellows will be supported with additional resources and training to help them achieve the goals described above. Fellows will learn how to become active players in public policy arenas by creating research and relationships for maximum policy impact and by organizing other chapter member scholars for the same purposes.

At the outset of the program, each cohort will spend a week with the SSN national team in Cambridge, MA. Fellows will learn the key roles of the SSN staff, the type of services available to member scholars, and tools for supporting their chapters. This will also be an opportunity for Fellows to meet and discuss their research with Theda Skocpol, SSN Director and Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University.  

In the fall, Fellows will participate in an SSN policy engagement training to learn how to effectively deliver evidence and ideas to policymakers and civic organizations. Fellows will also go through SSN’s media training and receive instruction from the national communications team on how a scholar can use the media to disseminate research and analysis to the public. 

Finally, Fellows will participate in SSN’s National Leadership Retreat, where they will get a chance to learn from chapter leaders, staff, and steering committee members including Theda Skocpol, Jacob Hacker, Lawrence Jacobs, Suzanne Mettler, and Amy Fried. Fellows will also have an opportunity to present their own research and SSN work.

Program Information

Length of Fellowship: In this launch phase, the SSN Regional Postdoctoral Fellowships will last for two years, starting in August 2017 and running through June 2019.

Affiliation: Fellows will be affiliated with one of the four following SSN regional chapters and their corresponding institutions: Atlanta SSN, Tennessee SSN (Nashville or Knoxville), Confluence SSN (St. Louis, MO), or Research Triangle SSN (Durham, NC).

Compensation: The SSN Postdoctoral Fellowship pays $48,000 annually. Benefits include health insurance, a modest allowance for approved travel to conferences, and reimbursement of appropriate work-related expenses.

Supervision: For chapter-related duties, the Fellow will report to the co-leaders of their base chapter and SSN’s national Director of Policy and Organizing.


SSN Regional Postdoctoral Fellowships are open to applicants from all disciplines who have completed their PhD within the past three years and are prepared to work for two years starting immediately. Applications are encouraged from soon-to-be or recent PhDs with experience or a strong interest in public policy, practical research, and community or state-level organizing.

Fellows must be willing to be year-round residents of the community where their appointment is based for the duration of their two-year fellowship.

Ideal candidates will be persons dedicated to SSN’s mission and able to grasp how to make use of SSN’s structure as a voluntary, federated network of member scholars. Because SSN’s national office is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Postdoctoral Fellows destined to be based in SSN regional chapters must show evidence that they are self-starters able to work independently and manage several projects simultaneously. In addition, strong candidates must be able to translate research findings into clear language for public audiences and feel comfortable actively reaching out to a diverse group of external stakeholders. Candidates should have a knowledge of legislative and other government processes.

How to Apply
Each application should include:

  • Statement of Interest: In 500 words or less, please detail your interest, background, and qualifications for the SSN Regional Postdoctoral Fellowship. Also state if you have a location preference between the regional chapters noted above.
  • Resume: Provide a curriculum vitae of no more than five pages.
  • Dissertation Abstract and Date for the PhD: Provide the abstract and table of contents of your doctoral dissertation and (if the PhD is not yet awarded) include a letter from your advisor about the expected date for the degree.
  • Description of Proposed Research: In 1000 words or less, describe the research project you would like to undertake during the two-year fellowship, how you plan to incorporate feedback from non-academic stakeholders, and in what ways you anticipate doing outreach about your work during and after completion of the project.  
  • Opinion Piece: In 650 words or less, write a jargon-free opinion piece using research to comment on a current event or area of public interest.  If you have already published such a piece, you may submit it.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation: Provide two letters of recommendation that speak to your ability to be successful in this program. Ideally, one letter should be from an academic supervisor and another from a supervisor or peer outside of academia or from an academic who has such experience.

Timing: Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.  No applications will be considered after June 30, 2017.

To Apply: Send your application with the above noted materials to Paola Maynard-Moll, [email protected] and use “SSN Postdoctoral Fellowship – Your Name” in the subject line.