Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Application & Deadline:

We are no longer accepting applications at this time. The deadline to apply was January 15, 2022.

What is the Afghanistan Observatory?

The Afghanistan Observatory initiative is a collaboration between Future Frontlines and the Fellows programs at New America. The initiative will serve as a hub for at-risk Afghans now in exile with a demonstrated commitment to peacebuilding, good governance, and the defense of human rights.

The purpose of the program is to provide a platform for Scholars affiliated with the Observatory to give voice to the millions of Afghans displaced by endless war and grinding poverty. The program will focus on cultivating a network of journalists, human rights defenders, and champions of good governance.

What is the application deadline?

The deadline to apply is January 15, 2022, at 11:59 pm EST.

Who can apply to the program?

Participation in the program is limited to recently expatriated Afghan nationals residing in the U.S., U.K., E.U., Canada, and Australia. Once you create a login to the application platform, you will be asked to respond to an eligibility question to this effect before you can access the full application.

You are not required to have a U.S. visa as the program will take place remotely.

What are the start and end dates?

This eight-month program aims to take place between late February and late September 2022. However, we do recognize that we may need to be flexible with the program timeline if needed.

During that timeline, we expect Scholars to make progress on their individual or group projects. Failure to do so may result in removal from the program and discontinuation of payments.

What is the format of the program?

It will take place remotely to start due to COVID restrictions, though we hope to host one in-person or hybrid gathering at some point during the fellowship.

Do I need to be based in the U.S. in order to participate?

Applicants based in the U.S., U.K., E.U., Canada, Australia are eligible to apply. However, proof of a pending application for refugee or asylee status in those countries must be provided and applicants must have a bank account in their own name.

What if I would like to apply but cannot participate during the above-mentioned time frame?

Applicants who are unable to meet this time frame are still encouraged to apply by the application deadline. If a strong case is made, applicants may be chosen to participate during a different time frame. Please remember to list your dates of availability in the application when asked to provide any scheduling conflicts. Should another set of dates work for a critical mass of strong candidates, we may consider changing the program dates.

What kind of support does the program offer?

New America will provide a monthly stipend of $2K USD per Scholar, and will also cover the cost of travel, hotel, and meals for a several-day in-person convening should one take place. We will also issue laptops on loan for the duration of the program.

Further, over the course of the program, a series of mandatory remote events will take place, such as meetings with policymakers and subject matter experts that can be helpful toward progressing the individual and collective project.

How do I know if I have the right background for the Afghanistan Observatory?

The ideal candidate will be a mid-career professional, someone ambitious who aims to make a mark in the Afghan policy sector. For example, the candidate should have a Master's degree or higher with two years of experience, or a Bachelor's degree with three years of experience or seven years of work experience in the NGO or media sector. The candidate will have a demonstrated education and employment background relating to human rights, anti-corruption, and transparency, protection of civilians, conflict and security studies, and/or journalism. Individuals applying should be able to read, write and speak English and should be results and deadline-oriented.

Can I hold another fellowship or job in addition to this?

Applicants who are receiving support in the form of academic scholarships or funding that supports resettlement are welcome to apply. However, given limited resources and the short-time frame of the program, we ask that you not take on another full-time fellowship that would require you to juggle competing demands or a job that would require more than 25 hours a week. That said, should another opportunity arise, we ask that you please notify us so that we can determine the best option for you and the program.

We anticipate that Scholars will spend 15-20 hours per week researching, writing, and participating in training sessions organized by the program staff.

What does the application entail?

The application has four sections:

  • Story description statement: A narrative description of the story idea you would like to pursue or question you would like to answer about how security, politics, economics, and migration challenges factored into the collapse of the Afghan government. Please also give us a general idea of how you would go about reporting the story. (1,000-word limit)
  • Personal statement: A statement about your personal and professional background and how the program will advance your personal and professional goals. (500-word limit)
  • Resume: A resume/CV not to exceed five pages.
  • Work samples:
    • Written: up to 10 pages
    • Multimedia: up to 2 samples (no more than 1 hour in length)
  • You will also be asked to provide the name and contact information for two professional references. No reference letters are required at this time.

What kind of work samples are you looking for?

We are looking for relevant work samples written in clear English.

Written samples should not exceed 10 pages in length. Written work samples may include, but are not limited to, original opinion editorials, research reports, and papers, etc. For all written work samples, the applicant should be the sole author. Written samples do not need to be formally published.

Multimedia work samples are limited to two samples and no more than 1 hour in length.

If I am selected as an Afghan Scholar, what will be expected of me?

The Afghan Scholars will produce research papers of up to 5,000 words or a multimedia project during their term of residence. This enables the Scholar to build a network of contacts in policymaking circles while disseminating the lessons they learn for a broader audience. If possible, a joint culminating symposium in Washington, D.C. will be held toward the end of the program.

Do I need to design my own project or will a project be decided for me?

While this program has a specific focus, the projects will be designed by individual candidates.

You will design an independent project around a research area that is of personal or professional interest to you and that you feel can be completed in the eight-month research period. New America may be able to provide support to aid in identifying organizations and individuals for outreach, but, as the issue expert, we trust that you will be able to identify the appropriate individuals to call upon as you develop your project.

What is your timeline for decisions?

In general, the timeline for reviewing applications is subject to change and depends on the number of applications we receive as well as on the availability of reviewers.

The selection committee will review all of the applications in January, and decisions will be made accordingly. Finalists will be asked to schedule interviews via Zoom. Applications are private—we ask anyone involved in the selection process not to share or discuss any of the candidates or materials with outsiders.

Scholars will be notified in February and publicly announced when they begin the program. Further, Scholars, once accepted, should make themselves available for one-on-one meetings with the New America team in order to prepare a plan of approach for their project. We will then schedule regular group calls with the entire cohort.

What is the timeline for payment?

New America will pay stipend payments on a monthly basis. Payment is, however, contingent on performance. Failure to complete the project may result in removal from the program, and no stipend will be paid.

May I ask someone aligned with the Observatory to review my project idea and/or read through any components of my application?

We are unable to provide candidates with direct feedback either on a project idea or on the components of an application; we don't want our feedback to be viewed as an endorsement or rejection of an application.