Graduate Student Fellow
If you are not generally aware of the society and its activities, you might want to look first at the introductory material about it.
The fellowship of Woodrow Wilson Scholars is a small society of scholars that is designed to stimulate intellectual exchanges between Princeton graduate students and faculty in the social sciences, broadly defined. The graduate fellows work on theses that have policy relevance, again, broadly defined.
The Fellowship's central task is to create occasions for meeting people in other disciplines and conducting scholarly exchanges with them. It does this in two ways. First, it holds a once a month lunch meeting at which the graduate student members discuss their research projects with one another. Second, there is a monthly dinner at which a faculty member talks about his or her current project with the assembled faculty and graduate students.
Generally, fellows are at the stage of their graduate careers in which they are well launched into their thesis work, having solved the problems of the general feasibility of the chosen topic and the identification of research methods used to attack the problem. The characteristic candidates, therefore, apply for one of the fellowships when their advisor and thesis committee members have reviewed their thesis proposal and the candidate has demonstrated some progress into the thesis material. Applications are filed mid-spring of one year for fellowships that begin in the fall of the following year. Candidates are asked to submit several kinds of material in support of their application, and a reference letter from their advisor, and perhaps another faculty member who knows them well, is solicited. The fellowship selectors also sometimes consult the graduate director of the candidate's home department.
The fellowship provides support for the fellow at a level comparable to a Princeton University teaching or research assistantship, and also covers tuition expenses. A grant to support some research expenses is also given, as well as an allowance supporting the meals connected with the various meetings. In other words, the fellows are completely supported for the years that they are society members. We therefore expect that the fellows will not take on other commitments, and certainly that they will not do so without first discussing them with the program director. We also expect that the fellows will made a considerable commitment to letting the Scholars' activities enrich their own work, and also to contributing to the enrichment of the other Scholars' thinking. This implies faithful attendance at Society meetings and more, a willingness to make considered contributions to the various discussions that take place during the meetings. Seeking out other fellows to discuss your ideas on material from your discipline that would be relevant to their theses and helping them find the references to enable them to explore these possibilities would be the sort of gesture that we would hope that fellows would make toward each other. Scholarly collaborations have also emerged.
These expectations determine the criteria on which the fellows are selected. Fellows will be engaged in a reasonably mature intellectual exploration, be able to articulate its assumptions and discoveries to a general audience, and be open to learning about new problems and novel research methods. They will also be able to sense possible policy implications of their findings and the findings of others. Finally, they will be able to make the time and energy commitments that will enable them to contribute to the intellectual life of the group.
To be concrete, there two obligations the fellows assume as well as the ones listed above: attendance and participation in the two series of meetings the society holds during the year. Given the time demands on people at Princeton, both are scheduled during mealtimes. Once a month there is a lunch at which one fellow presents his or her thesis work and the group of fellows discusses it. Once a month dinner is also held, at which one of the faculty fellows introduces a topic that he or she has been engaged with recently and a discussion follows.
One note of caution. As you will understand, the selection criteria for the fellowship program involve not only the credentials of the candidate, but other considerations such as the ways in which the candidate's thesis project and thesis research methods will contribute to providing an intellectually rich mix of approaches that will illuminate policy problems and solutions. It is also the case that the Fellowship will seek fellows who are distributed across the various departments that participate in the Fellowship program.
For more information about the specific schedule of the Fellowship of Woodrow Wilson Scholars activities, including the application dates, please consult the scheduling page. If you are considering applying, you should begin with a candid discussion with your thesis advisor about whether this makes sense. We expect that the nominations of new fellows will come from thesis advisors. The advisor could be asked to look at both this page of the website and the Reference Writer's page to get an understanding of the particular character of the Fellowship of Scholars. If the advisor is not familiar with the FWWS, he or she could be directed to the about the fellowship of the Woodrow Wilson Society page.