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Offer: Academic Fellowship Program of the Open Society Foundation's International Higher Education Support Program

Academic Fellowship Program
The Academic Fellowship Program of the Open Society Foundations International Higher Education Support Program contributes to higher education reform by supporting promising local scholars and assisting progressive universities in certain countries of South Eastern Europe and Eurasia.

Launched by the International Higher Education Support Program in 2004, the Academic Fellowship Program has evolved to meet the changing and varied educational challenges in the regions in which it works.

While responding to the impacts of political, economic, and social change on higher education, the program continues to maintain its fundamental commitment to the importance of promoting higher education reform as a key component of bolstering open, democratic societies.

Changing the Face of Education
Higher education reform efforts in the countries targeted by the Academic Fellowship Program are often impeded by lack of funding, ineffective education policies, poor planning and management, reliance on traditional curricula that emphasize passive rather than active learning, limited flexibility in career choices, corruption, and elitism. The program seeks to diminish these obstacles by focusing on both individual scholars and educational institutions, and helping to build local, regional, and global academic networks.

The Academic Fellowship Program supports promising local scholars through the Returning Scholars Fellowship Program. The fellowship promotes the return of scholars to the region, their positioning within academe, and their continued professional development.

The program also assists reform-minded university departments in their efforts to achieve world-class academic stature and become models of innovation and reform. The Academic Fellowship Program through the International Scholars Fellowship Program selects highly qualified scholars in the social sciences and humanities to assist these partner departments.

Returning Scholars Fellowship Program
The program, as part of a conscious strategy to combat “brain drain” in the social sciences and humanities, supports talented young scholars who, after earning a postgraduate degree abroad, seek university positions and academic careers in their home countries. Securing the services of such scholars is essential to the revitalization of academic departments and the sustainability of higher education reforms, to which Academic Fellowship Program also contributes. The program offers scholars financial, institutional, and professional development support, as well as opportunities for further professional growth as program alumni.

For more information, view the Returning Scholars grant guidelines.

International Scholars Fellowship Program
The program selects highly qualified scholars in the social sciences and humanities to assist partner departments where Returning Scholars are placed. The International Scholars advise on the overall reform agenda of the departments and share the latest developments in the respective disciplines, and beyond, with departmental colleagues; collaborate on the introduction of new courses; and encourage the development of skills that are crucial for academic success. One of the greatest, and most needed, contributions that International Scholars make is the expert advice they offer on curriculum development and academic planning.

For more information, view the International Scholars grant guidelines.

Program Effectiveness
Academic Fellowship Program Returning Scholars come to AFP along with departments that have been carefully selected as program partners. Partnerships are established on the basis of a department’s openness to change and advancement, and clear visions for future development. Returning Scholars working in such environments will find the support and encouragement they need to launch and pursue their academic careers while at the same time contributing to the development of the departments. Partner departments are encouraged to take the lead in recruiting qualified Returning and International Scholars whose professional profiles match departmental needs.

Returning Scholars, along with their International Scholar peers, benefit from the Academic Fellowship Program’s innovative online instrument: the Academic Webfolio Project. Essentially a collective academic workshop, it provides fellows with an open forum to present academic materials and ongoing work that reflect their professional development as scholars and university teachers.

Posting the materials encourages fellows’ self-reflection and allows for ongoing peer and expert review and commentary. The Academic Webfolio Project also serves as the platform for the work of the program’s Discipline Groups. These groups have been established to facilitate academic interaction and cooperation among fellows who share similar scholarly interests but are scattered across different universities and countries. The Discipline Groups’ activities are greatly aided by features available on the Webfolio website.

The Webfolio website’s open, community format provides a convenient and effective opportunity for scholarly dialogue, collaboration, assistance, and access to the collective academic expertise offered by the Academic Fellowship Program’s fellows, the faculty members of its partner departments, and other Open Society Foundations programs.

Partner Departments
Departments are chosen based on several criteria: awareness of the need for educational reform and opportunities, demonstrated willingness to embrace change, and concrete, realistic plans for achieving lasting reform. The Academic Fellowship Program gathers detailed information on departments at universities throughout the region, using written questionnaires, interviews, and site visits. Departments meeting program criteria are invited to submit detailed proposals for program support, outlining their plans for departmental development over the course of several years. Based on these proposals, the Academic Fellowship Program’s Academic Advisory Council selects the most promising departments for collaboration.

Academic Fellowship Program partner departments benefit in many ways from the presence and activities of International Scholars and Returning Scholars. The program invites fellows to submit proposals for Departmental Development Projects, and encourages fellows to play an active role in the implementation of the program’s strategy for partner departments as agreed with the departments. The Mobility Fund is designed to support faculty visits between program partner departments. Funding for Professional Development Projects is also available for Returning Scholars, and professional development and training opportunities exist for core faculty (non-program scholars) as well. Specific areas of focus include curriculum development and teaching excellence. The Academic Fellowship Program promotes best practices in education through other activities such as training events, workshops, roundtables, and targeted mobility programs. The program expects, and also provides support for, projects to extend the impact of teaching by incorporating fellows' research in their teaching.

Alumni Involvement
The Academic Fellowship Program treats alumni as a core component by integrating them into ongoing education reform efforts and providing them with a framework for regional and international collaboration. The program’s Alumni Fund offers financial support to alumni who wish to contribute their extensive academic expertise and professional skills to the development of partner departments, or who facilitate program work in the Academic Fellowship Program’s Discipline Groups and their meetings. The fund is open to Academic Fellowship Program alumni as well as to alumni of the Civic Education Project, and the Support for Community Outreach and University Teaching Program (SCOUT).

Academic Fields
The Academic Fellowship Program supports scholars pursuing humanities and social sciences disciplines, including:

-- anthropology
-- area/cultural studies
-- economics
-- environmental studies
-- gender studies
-- history
-- human rights and public law
-- international relations
-- journalism/media studies
-- philosophy
-- political science
-- psychology
-- public policy/public health
-- social work
-- sociology

Geographic Representation
The Academic Fellowship Program supports efforts for higher education reform in 17 countries:

Albania
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Croatia
Georgia
Kazakhstan
Kosovo
Kyrgyzstan
Macedonia
Moldova
Mongolia
Montenegro
Russia
Serbia
Tajikistan
Ukraine
Administration

The Academic Fellowship Program is administered from Budapest in cooperation with field offices located in and serving the following countries and sub-regions:

Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia)
Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Mongolia)
South Eastern Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia)
Moldova, Russia, Ukraine

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