Public Voices Fellowship

Northwestern University is partnering with OpEd Project to present the Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellowship Program. This year-long program provides a select group of scholars across all disciplines with the resources, support and skills needed in order to dramatically increase their visibility and influence as thought leaders in academia and the world at large. 

Program Application

The Public Voices Fellowship Program is open to all active, full-time faculty who have not already participated in a Program either at Northwestern University or elsewhere.  To submit an application for the 2014 Program, please download the Application Form and submit all required materials to Daphne Fair-Leary (dfl@northwestern.edu).  Applications are due by September 5, 2014.


Over the course of the 2014-2015 academic year, the Faculty Fellows will participate in:

1) Quarterly Thought Leadership Seminars designed to expand thinking and amplify expertise. One or more of these seminars will feature conversations (in person or via teleconference) with top media thought leaders and gatekeepers including the New York Times, CNN, and Wikipedia, and brief media coaching for video. In addition, a short video may be created to highlight the participants’ successes, and to showcase them as expert sources for future media. Visit the 2013 Program page to see an example of this video.

Fellows must commit to attending all four gathering dates. All gatherings will take place in Hardin Hall, located in the basement level of the Rebecca Crown Center at 633 Clark Street, Evanston, IL. The schedule for the 2014-15 Quarterly Seminars is as follows:

Thursday, October 30  (9am - 4pm) & Friday, October 31 (9am - 2pm) KNOWLEDGE. What do we know, why does it matter, and how can we use it? In the first 1/2 day convening we use games, high-stakes scenarios and live experiments to explore the concepts  of expertise and credibility, to examine the elements of powerful argument and persuasion (including evidence, how to address opposition and building consensus), and to challenge fellows to think in new and bigger ways about what they know and why it matters. We also reflect on the obligation that comes with knowledge.

Friday, January 23  (9am - 4pm)  CONNECTION. How can we speed the pace of cross-pollination, and thereby develop better ideas that increase our value and relevance in the world? In the second convening we connect the dots between disparate ideas, fields, geographies, and time periods. We play games that explore the source of truly innovative thinking (where do good ideas come from?) and test our ideas of timing and timeliness. We discover unlikely yet authentic connections across people, time and space - and new ways in which our knowledge intersects with public events.

Friday, March 27  (9am - 4pm)  CONTAGION. Why do some ideas travel farther and faster than others?  What are the mechanisms and hallmarks of contagious thinking? The third convening explores the underpinnings and philosophical implications of a rapidly changing media landscape - in which ideas rise and spread in radically new ways. We work with multi-media platforms including TV/video, public speaking, TED and TED Ed, social media, and much more. We also consider how teaching platforms can scale ideas across generations.

Friday, May 15  (9am - 4pm)  LEGACY. Why do we do what we do? And what is the enduring impact we wish to leave behind? In the fourth convening we use elemental questions to explore our individual ideas around purpose and legacy with a telescopic lens. What impact can we leave behind not simply on the day we die, but hundreds of years into the future, through our ideas? Fellows leave with a physical record of their motivations and accomplishments and with blueprints for the future. Following will be a reception during which we will celebrate each other's accomplishments throughout the year.

2) Dedicated Coaching/Editing In between each seminar, two or more dedicated OpEd Project Mentor-Editors will provide individual coaching and feedback by phone and email, and hold regular (non-obligatory; akin to office hours) check‐in chat sessions and conference calls. The Mentor-Editors will edit, support, cajole, look for news hooks, provide individual feedback and encouragement, and otherwise support participants in any way s/he appropriately can, to ensure participants to succeed.

3) Media Gatekeeper calls Each month we will hold in-person or call‐in conversations with top media gatekeepers from outlets such as: The New York Times (how to become an expert source to a journalist); CNN (how scholars get booked on TV); Wikipedia (how to contribute to and shape encyclopedic knowledge online); MSNBC (how academics can become major media commentators); and possibly with organizers or gatekeepers from major thought leadership conferences such as TED, Davos or PopTech. These calls also serve to foster cross-pollination of scholars across disciplines and across universities.

4) Ongoing, High-Level Mentoring Finally, throughout the program year and for one year beyond, the Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellows will have access to the OpEd Project’s national network of Mentor-Editors: eighty extremely high‐level media thought leaders (among them: Pulitzer Prize winners, genius grant winners, former New York Times editorial board members, war correspondents, and nationally syndicated columnists) who each volunteer to mentor one Fellow a month. Fellows can use this resource any time they would like individual feedback on an idea or argument they are advancing in the form of an op‐ed—as often as they like and as many times as they like throughout the program year and one year beyond.

See highlights of the 2013 Program.

Public Voices at Other Universities

Princeton University: Public Voices Fellowship Project
Yale University: Yale NewsYale Daily News
Fordham University
Stanford University

More About the Op-Ed Project

The OpEd Project is a social venture founded to increase the range of voices and quality of ideas we hear in the world, starting with more women. We envision a world where the best ideas—regardless of where or whom they come from—will have a chance to be heard and to shape society and the world. We have successfully piloted programs to advance minority and women’s voices with major organizations and universities nation-wide, with stunning results: nearly 5,000 women and men have come through The OpEd Project, and have assumed thought leadership positions (via op-eds and much more) in virtually every major media outlet, conservatively reaching hundreds of millions of readers. As a direct result participants have gone on to speak on national TV and radio, advance their research and teaching careers, earn book contracts (or generate larger/more popular audiences for existing academic books), consult on national policy issues, take new leadership roles at their institutions, brief Congress, and become nationally recognized for their ideas.