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Call for Applications: Research Fellowships on the Role of Civilians in Atrocity Prevention

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The Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum seeks one or two research fellows to help lead its efforts on the role of civilians in preventing and mitigating mass atrocities. As described in the corresponding project description, the Simon-Skjodt Center’s research on this topic will be carried out through two distinct, but closely related projects: one on the role of civil society in mass atrocity prevention and the other on civilian self-protection during ongoing mass atrocity episodes. We expect to appoint one fellow for each project, but are willing to consider a single fellow with requisite expertise to contribute to both projects.

Applicants should be experts in civil society and/or civilian self-protection and mass atrocities. Fellows will advise the Simon-Skjodt Center throughout the project duration (~18 months) on all aspects of the research, help refine research questions and select appropriate methods, conduct primary research, author at least one written report, and help organize seminars or other events to solicit feedback from and present results to policymakers, scholars, and other interested audiences. The fellow will work closely with the Simon-Skjodt Center’s research director, other staff, and outside collaborators.

The goals of the Simon-Skjodt Center’s research on the role of civilians is to address gaps in knowledge about when and how civilians—working through civil society organizations and/or less formal, local community mechanisms—are able to help prevent or mitigate mass atrocities, and how external actors can support them to play this role most effectively. The fellow should be equipped to use a variety of social science research methods, as appropriate, to address the following questions:

  • How is civil society strength associated with the onset of mass killing episodes?
  • How do civilian self-protection strategies vary across different types of contexts, phases of conflict, and locations in which conflict takes place?
  • What explains variation in effectiveness of civil society in helping prevent and civilian self-protection in mitigating mass atrocities?
  • How can external efforts to support civilian-led prevention and protection efforts result in the greatest reduction of atrocities? How can external assistance (especially from the US) avoid unintentionally increasing risks for civilians?1

Terms of Fellowship

  • Duration: The Simon-Skjodt Center is seeking fellows for approximately 18 months, but will consider exceptional candidates for a shorter or longer period. Fellows will be non-residential, but will be expected to spend up to one week at the Museum at the beginning and end of the fellowship and to keep in regular contact with the Simon-Skjodt Center Research Team during the term of the fellowship. A full timeline will be agreed upon before the fellowship begins.
  • Publication: The fellowship(s) will result in at least one written report for the Simon-Skjodt Center on the results of the research—e.g., a case study or a cross-case study comparison. The fellow(s) may also be requested to present their work at appropriate convenings which they may help organize. In addition, all fellows are encouraged to publish findings based on fellowship research in scholarly journals, relevant blogs, and policy journals.
  • Support: A competitive stipend will be provided, commensurate with experience. The Simon-Skjodt Center will also support travel, research, and administrative costs associated with the fellowship(s).

Selection Criteria

  • Knowledge of and prior research on political violence, human rights, atrocity prevention, civil society, civilian self-protection, or closely related topics;
  • PhD or at least seven years of professional experience on related topics;
  • Strength of the proposed research plans and their alignment with the goals of the Simon-Skjodt Center;
  • Ability to communicate information in a clear manner to a variety of audiences.

How to apply

  • Interested parties should submit the following materials to Daniel Solomon at
  • A 1-2 page cover letter outlining qualifications, describing how you propose to pursue the research questions articulated above, and how it will advance the goals of the Simon-Skjodt Center.
  • CV and contact information for three references.

Underrepresented candidates and those from countries that have been affected by mass atrocities are especially encouraged to apply.

About the Simon-Skjodt Center

The Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide is dedicated to stimulating timely global action to prevent genocide and to catalyze an international response when it occurs. Our goal is to make the prevention of genocide a core foreign policy priority for leaders around the world through a multipronged program of research, education, and public outreach. We work to equip decision makers, starting with officials in the United States but also extending to other governments, with the knowledge, tools, and institutional support required to prevent—or, if necessary, halt—genocide and related crimes against humanity. For more information, see:

1We plan to solicit applications for a separate policy research fellow to explore how the US government and other international donors can more effectively support civilian-led prevention and protection efforts.

Tags:   atrocity prevention

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