ACLS Leading Edge Fellowship

Type: Grant

Name: ACLS Leading Edge Fellowship

Location: Remote

Application Deadline: November 02, 2020

Sponsoring Institution: American Council of Learned Societies


The American Council of Learned Societies is pleased to announce the second competition of the Leading Edge Fellowship program. The fellowships provide support for placing talented, entrepreneurial recent PhDs in religious studies, theology, ethics, and related fields in organizations around the country, to help communities respond to issues caused by the COVID-19 crisis and advance public understanding of the pandemic. This initiative is made possible through the support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

ACLS has long championed the value of advanced humanistic training in addressing problems beyond the academy. In this cycle of the competition, we are partnering with eleven organizations pursuing projects designed to address the needs of their communities in the face of the pandemic. These issues, from the dangers posed by COVID to those incarcerated, to impacts on low income families, to ethical vaccine research, are particularly urgent, as is the need for meaningful employment among recent graduates. Thus, this rapid-response program will place fellows to begin work in January/February 2021.

The deadline for applications is Monday, November 2, 2020 by 9pm EDT. The application consists of a resume, cover letter, professional references, and an application questionnaire. (No reference letters are required.) Fellows receive stipends of $60,000 per year and receive health insurance and professional development funding. All Leading Edge Fellowships beginning in 2021 will be held remotely for the duration of the fellowship term. Applicants may select up to two projects as part of their application to for the fellowship.

The partner organizations and projects are:

• African Communities Together (New York, NY) – Mapping African Immigrant Communities Post-2020
• American Friends Service Committee (Newark, NJ) – Testimonies of the Detained: Understanding the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Incarcerated People
• Breakthrough (New York, NY) – Assessing the Cultural Impact of Our Stories: In Vivid Color, a Multimedia Project
• Common Cause (Washington, DC) – Private vs. Public Interests: Sheriffs’ Elections and Mass Incarceration
• Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) (Washington, DC) – Advocating for Ethics and Money-in-Politics Reform Using Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic
• Freedom for Immigrants (Los Angeles, CA) – The Global Dimension of Immigration Detention
• Kairos Center for Religion, Rights, and Social Justice (New York, NY) – Analyzing the Impact of COVID-19 on Poor and Low-Income People to Transform Conditions on the Ground
• National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC) – Ethical Considerations: COVID-19 Vaccine Research
• PublicSource (Pittsburgh, PA) – Reporting on Faith and Religion in Pittsburgh Amid the Pandemic
• Southern Coalition for Social Justice (Durham, NC) – Collateral Consequences: COVID-19 and the Criminal Justice System in North Carolina
• The Southern Poverty Law Center (Montgomery, AL) – The Third Edition of Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy

Applicants must have a PhD that was/will be conferred by their university between September 1, 2016, and December 31, 2020, and must have successfully defended their dissertations by November 2, 2020. Applicants’ PhDs may be in any field in the humanities or humanistic social sciences, as the research focuses on the academic study of religion, theology, or ethics and contributes to scholarship on one or more of these fields. See FAQ for further information. US citizenship or permanent residency is not required, but applicants must be authorized to work legally in the United States. Neither ACLS nor the partner organization can sponsor fellows for visas.

Applications will be accepted only through the ACLS online application system and must be submitted by November 2, 2020 at 9pm EDT. Applicants should not contact any of the organizations directly. Please visit for complete position descriptions, eligibility criteria, and application information.

Questions about the program may be addressed to

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Posted: October 15, 2020