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Research Fellowship on External Support to Civilian-led Atrocity Prevention and Mitigation

The Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum seeks a fellow to contribute to its research project on the role of civilians in preventing and mitigating mass atrocities. In coordination with other elements of the project, the fellow will conduct original research on the roles of national, multilateral, and private donors in supporting civilian-led atrocity prevention and mitigation efforts, with a principal goal of generating recommendations about how to improve external assistance to these efforts.

The goals of the Simon-Skjodt Center’s research on the role of civilians are 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. Two elements of the overall project are in process: (1) cross-national quantitative analysis, and (2) comparative case studies of civilian-led action in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Sri Lanka. This fellowship is designed to complement those elements with focused research on the role of donors and foreign assistance.

Applicants should be experts in policy and/or programmatic responses to risks of mass atrocities or other types of large-scale violence against civilians. Previous experience working with the US government, the United Nations, private foundations, or other major international donors is strongly preferred. The fellow will help refine research questions and select appropriate methods, conduct primary research, write at least one report on their findings and recommendations, 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, the current Leonard and Sophie Davis Genocide Prevention Fellow, and other outside collaborators.

The fellow should be equipped to use social science and policy research methods, especially semi-structured interviews, to address the following questions:

  • What kinds and amount of support have external donors been providing to civilian-led atrocity prevention and mitigation efforts? To which regions, countries, types of organizations, and types of programs/activities has external assistance been focused?

  • What factors influence the effectiveness of external support for civilian-led atrocity prevention and mitigation efforts? How can external actors address obstacles?

  • How can external assistance avoid unintentionally increasing risks for civilians?

Terms of Fellowship

  • Duration: The Simon-Skjodt Center is seeking a fellow for approximately 12 months, but will consider exceptional candidates for a shorter or longer period. Fellows will be non-residential, but will be expected to visit 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 will result in at least one written report for the Simon-Skjodt Center on the results of the research. The fellow may also be requested to present their work at appropriate convenings which they may help organize. In addition, the fellow will be 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 (e.g., to major donor capitals), research, and administrative costs associated with the fellowship.

Selection Criteria

  • Knowledge of and prior research on civil society, civilian self-protection, foreign assistance, political violence, human rights, atrocity prevention, or closely related topics;

  • Previous policy and/or foreign assistance program experience is strongly preferred;

  • Advanced degree 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 Kyra Fox 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, visit: