About the Fellowship Programs
Every Fellowship program takes themes that are timeless and global and looks at them through a lens that is timely and local.
Humanity in Action Fellowship programs look at the ways in which communities co-exist to create a society. Each program investigates human rights, democracy, and structural injustice. Each bridges the international and the domestic, the theoretical and the practical, the political and the personal.
In any program, Fellows will go on local site visits; they will engage in practice-oriented workshops; and they will hear from local politicians, journalists, activists, and representatives from civil society organizations. Above all, Fellows will learn to reflect on their own internalized prejudices, to think from the perspective of identity groups different from their own, and to advance change in their own communities.
But just as every society is different, so is every Fellowship program: the local history and communities offer different lessons and guide each program’s focus.
The Amsterdam Fellowship
The Netherlands has a reputation for being liberal and tolerant: a model nation for the protection of minority rights. The Humanity in Action Fellowship in Amsterdam offers an opportunity to consider where that reputation is deserved and where there is deeper work to do. Fellows look at the nation’s history—Dutch colonialism and slavery, the Second World War and the Holocaust—to understand how democracy breaks down when minority groups are denied rights.
Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the backdrops for this exploration of Dutch histories. The Hague, as an international city of peace and justice, offers unique opportunities to connect national to global dynamics. Home to a very diverse population, the Netherlands is a fascinating and complex case study in identity construction in a liberal pluralistic Western democracy.
The Atlanta Fellowship
Unique in its long commitment to slavery, “The South” has a distinctive role in the making of America. The region also has a richly-layered cultural landscape and is home to vibrant traditions of organized resistance and progressive politics. For all its exceptionalism, the complexities of race, class, culture, and conflict in the American South reflect the very soul of US society. Atlanta, an important Southern battleground of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, is an especially poignant site for contemplating America’s troubled racial past, and importantly, for setting the course toward a redemptive future.
The John Lewis Fellowship in Atlanta looks at the regional experiences, cultures, and institutions of the American South through a different thematic lens every year. The 2019 Fellowship illuminates strategies of allyship and unified action for advancing social equity and racial justice. Fellows will leave Atlanta better equipped to examine structural oppression and internalized prejudice from different standpoints—and to bring lessons of leadership and coalition-building into their own future professional and activist work.
The Berlin Fellowship
For historical lessons in catastrophic human rights violations, there are few more powerful case studies than Germany. The Berlin Fellowship looks at the country’s past to better see its present. As a city of enormous historical significance, Berlin has served as the capital of German colonialism, the Weimar Republic, and National Socialism. It has also been a focal point in the Cold War. Berlin continues to be a pivotal point for contemporary social justice struggles including the reception of asylum seekers fleeing recent atrocities.
Home to a diverse range of communities in a city that never sleeps, Berlin is one of Europe’s largest and most vibrant metropolitan cities. It offers a unique landscape to view the social, cultural, and historical clashes taking place across European democracies. Berlin Fellows examine contemporary questions around identity formation and societal pluralism seen through the lens of those individuals affected.
The Copenhagen Fellowship
The Humanity in Action Copenhagen Fellowship centers around a pivotal example of civil society acting in defense of human rights: the rescue of Danish Jews by the larger public during World War II. Today, Denmark is still seen as a paragon of the successful progressive society: a beacon of wealth, happiness, and equality. The Copenhagen Fellowship investigates these narratives to reveal more complicated truths.
In a country lauded for its egalitarian healthcare, education, and welfare systems, political rhetoric against minority groups is on the rise, and nationalist sentiments simmering. The nation’s history has its darker sides, too. Copenhagen Fellows will dig into Denmark’s displacement of its own colonial history; its complicated historical control over Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland; and the ways in which historical notions of cultural and ethnic homogeneity affect contemporary Danish approaches to pluralism.
The Sarajevo Fellowship
The City of Sarajevo and its surrounding region provides a unique case study in how groups with different identities coexist. It is one of just a few truly “multiconfessional” cities in the world: Muslims, Catholics, and the Serbian Orthodox share power. It also has one of the bloodiest and most tumultuous recent histories of any country in Europe.
The Sarajevo Fellowship delves into nuanced discussion of transitional justice, post-conflict identity politics, and peacebuilding. It uses both the urban and rural landscapes around the capital to help Fellows connect the unique diversity of Bosnia and Herzegovina to international issues of ethnic nationalism, right-wing extremism, and the crafting of pluralistic democracies.
The Warsaw Fellowship
Due to its near complete ethnic and religious homogeneity—a consequence of World War II and the Holocaust—Polish society lacks exposure to the “other.” With the recent influx of migrants and refugees into Europe, populist and xenophobic forces are gaining power. As a result, Poland, once lauded for following the non-violent “Solidarity” movement into democracy, is backsliding toward illiberalism.
The Humanity in Action Warsaw Fellowship examines this unfolding systemic crisis, focusing in particular on hate speech and other human and minority rights challenges in Poland. The Fellowship looks at diversity in an era of growing polarization and radicalism—and offers an opportunity to engage in activism and do good while learning from the bravest and most innovative changemakers in Poland.