About the Visiting Scholars Program
The Institute for Rebooting Social Media seeks Visiting Scholars to develop publicly-accessible research projects that investigate the harms and opportunities of networked communication and social media. At a high level, projects should explore under-discussed hypotheses and propose novel solutions at the policy and/or technical level. We encourage candidates from a broad range of disciplines and with varying research interests to apply.
We are, for example, interested in applications that address scholarship related to:
—Current, previous, and potential content governance models on social media platforms;
—Social media business models, specifically the misalignment of their incentives with democracy and the broader public interest; and
—Design and analysis of large-scale platforms, including interest in hardware and software for privacy-respecting distributed services, network science and complexity theory, and human/computer interfaces for social media applications.
Individuals within our 2022-2023 cohort have backgrounds spanning law and philosophy, informatics and computer science, and music and design. Members of this inaugural group have found the program’s interdisciplinary approach beneficial to their own work. We encourage you to read more about our 2022-2023 Visiting Scholars here.
Through their participation in the program, Visiting Scholars will be expected to pursue their own research interests around social media and online networked communication, produce public scholarship, and engage with RSM’s growing portfolio of programming, research, and educational offerings. As members of the broader Berkman Klein Center community, Visiting Scholars will have the opportunity to cultivate relationships with key faculty members and experts in related fields, engage with a range of stakeholders in broader research and policy circles, and learn with and from BKC staff, fellows, faculty associates, and affiliates. In addition to engaging with traditional academic venues, scholars should also create outputs that are accessible to diverse audiences.
Eligibility and Qualifications
RSM seeks to be a space for both established scholars and emerging ones, particularly those under-represented in the field, to both further develop their scholarship and contribute to relevant public conversations.
The Visiting Scholar Program welcomes applications from faculty…
–For whom serving as a professor is their full-time commitment, such as assistant, associate, and full professors or equivalent roles in countries outside of the U.S.
–From any discipline whose scholarship deeply engages with questions and ideas related to social media and networked communication.
–Who are looking to develop independent work in a cohort setting; who are eager to engage with other faculty and practitioners around key questions on the future of social media and networked communication; who are excited to engage publicly; and who are eager to mentor students.
–Who have a clear sense of the problem(s) their work is addressing, a clear vision of their proposed project and potential output (of course, this is flexible, as the project develops), and a plan to access any necessary data, conduct any research interviews, etc.
–With a commitment to centering equity, inclusion, and justice in their work.
–Who have prior published work in this space and a demonstrated record of contributing to public and scholarly conversations.
International applicants: We work with the Harvard International Office (HIO) to sponsor visa paperwork for our eligible international scholars. An outline of the visa application process and requirements may be found on the HIO website at: http://hio.harvard.edu/scholar-visa-process.
All participants must be eligible to receive a stipend; further details below.
Opportunities and Expectations
The specific expectations for individual participants in the Visiting Scholars program will be unique to each scholar, and determined in consultation with RSM Faculty Directors, staff, and advisors. The high-level expectations are outlined below:
Producing public scholarship
Visiting Scholars will be expected to produce at least one public output that informs both scholarly and public debates on social media’s most urgent problems and possible paths forward. These outputs could take many forms, including:
–technical or design prototype(s)
–public writing, such as long form pieces, op-eds, blog posts, or interviews
–a series of events or convenings organized and led by the participant
–reports or white papers
–a website or other online resource
–academic writing, such as a research paper
Engaging with RSM participants and programming
Beyond this required output, Visiting Scholars are expected to engage with faculty, staff, students, and other members of the RSM, BKC, and Harvard University communities. Visiting Scholars will be expected to regularly participate in RSM programming (within reason, of course!) to learn with and from others and strengthen their own work. This programming could include speaking at and/or participating in workshops, research sessions, and regular conversations with other Visiting Scholars and members of the RSM community. Visiting Scholars will be expected to host and/or participate in at least one public event, including, but not limited to a talk, workshop, panel discussion, working group, etc. Additionally, we hope that Visiting Scholars will be available to engage with students involved in RSM programming.
The Visiting Scholars program will run for the full academic year, from September 2023 to August 2024. Visiting Scholars are expected to be free of the majority of their regular commitments so that they may fully devote themselves to the work outlined in their application. We do recognize that Visiting Scholars who bring their own funding might have specific commitments due to their funding arrangements.
Visiting Scholars will be required to be in residence in Cambridge, MA for at least one full semester of their appointment, although Scholars are welcome (and encouraged!) to spend the full academic year on campus. During the time spent in residence, they will work from the Berkman Klein Center’s offices on the Harvard Law School campus. During any time they are not physically on campus, Visiting Scholars will be expected to participate in programming remotely.
There are two pathways for Visiting Scholars to join RSM: those who will bring external funding to support their research, and those who will receive funding from RSM and will engage more frequently and regularly with RSM programming, participants, and staff.
—External funding: applicants on sabbatical or otherwise with their own funding support. RSM will complement this funding with an additional stipend of $10,000 that can be used for living, travel, and research expenses.
—RSM funding: RSM has a limited pool of funding to support Visiting Scholars. Visiting Scholars are eligible to receive stipends of $37,500 per semester in residence, up to a total of $75,000 annually. The first semester stipend arrangements are guaranteed; we will conduct a mid-year review with Visiting Scholars to share feedback, review engagement, and check in on research progress, and, provided scholars are on track, at this stage we will clear the way for funding for the second semester.
Visiting Scholars will have the option to hire a part-time Harvard University student research assistant during the duration of their appointment. Wages for research assistants of up to $2,500 for the year will be paid by RSM, in addition to the stipend described above.
Some important formalities
–Please note that the Visiting Scholars program is not considered employment, and Visiting Scholars will not be entitled to severance pay or layoff benefits upon culmination of the program.
–If one is based in the United States but is not a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card” holder), one’s immigration status must allow for the receipt of a Visiting Scholar stipend.
–Visiting Scholars may be responsible for tax reporting on their stipends. More information about stipends issued through Harvard University may be found here.
Access to University Resources
For their time spent in Cambridge, Visiting Scholars will be provided with either shared or individual office/work space, depending on availability. We endeavor to provide comfortable and productive spaces for coworking and flexible use by the community. Visiting Scholars are supported in their efforts to host small meetings and gatherings at BKC and in space on the Harvard campus. BKC’s office is wheelchair accessible, and our bathrooms are gender-neutral.
—Library Access: All Visiting Scholars will be provided with access to Harvard’s extensive libraries and research facilities.
—Courses: Visiting Scholars may seek opportunities to audit classes across Harvard University. They must, however, ask for direct permission from the professor of the desired class.
—Campus Resources: Visiting Scholars are welcome and encouraged to connect with Harvard University’s countless research centers, initiatives, resource groups, associations, organizations, and specialized offices.
Harvard Health Insurance and Harvard Housing
Visiting Scholars are not eligible to purchase health insurance through Harvard University. They are eligible to use Harvard University housing services.
Teaching at Harvard
Visiting Scholars may be able to teach at one of several Harvard schools. This would be determined on a case-by-case basis, arranged directly by the Visiting Scholar in collaboration with the administration of said schools. RSM cannot promise any teaching engagement during the program.
About the Institute for Rebooting Social Media
To accelerate progress addressing social media’s most urgent problems, Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society has launched a three-year research initiative, the Institute for Rebooting Social Media. Conceived of by two BKC faculty directors — Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law and Professor of Computer Science, and James Mickens, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science — RSM convenes world-class practitioners, policymakers, scholars, and students to improve the future of social media and online communication. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Reid Hoffman, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and Archewell Foundation have committed generous donations to support this initiative.
By bringing participants together across academia, civil society, government, and industry in focused, time-bound collaboration, RSM will continue to build on its existing portfolio of programming, research, and educational opportunities to accelerate progress in improving the state of the digital social space. Participants will be encouraged to address a wide range of some of today’s thorniest challenges related to social media, such as mis/disinformation, privacy, harassment, and content governance, as well as positive manifestations of what a healthy information ecosystem could look like.
Community Principles, Policies, and Resources:
The Berkman Klein Center community, and how we interact with one another, is governed by norms and policies developed and maintained by Harvard University and Harvard Law School. The Harvard Law School Community Principles, found in the Handbook of Academic Policies, read:
The Law School’s commitments to fairness, respect for the rule of law, and free inquiry require an environment of trust and mutual respect, free expression and inquiry, and a commitment to truth, excellence, and lifelong learning. Students, program participants, faculty, staff, and alumni accept these principles when they join the Harvard Law School community and thereby agree to respect the rights, dignity, and differences of others, pursue honesty and integrity in dealing with all members of the community in person and online, and accept personal responsibility in these efforts.
Note that the Handbook has other sections applicable to BKC activities, notably the policies on Academic Honesty and Protest and Dissent.
The Berkman Klein Center maintains a page to highlight these policies, as well as other applicable policies and resources for accessing additional University support.
Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
The work and well-being of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society are profoundly strengthened by our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, ability, and more. We actively seek and welcome applications from people of diverse backgrounds, including Black, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic, and Latino/Latina/Latinx people; LGBTQIA+ people; non-binary people; women; people with disabilities; people at intersections of these identities; and people from and working across the spectrum of disciplines.
The deadline for this application has passed.
Instructions for creating an account and submitting an application through BKC’s Application Tracker may be found here.
Application questions you will be asked to answer:
—Title of faculty position (if applicable)
—Are you requesting funding or bringing your own funding into the program? This will not impact review of your application.
—Preferred semester(s) to be in-person, if selected. This will not impact review, and is simply useful information for the RSM in designing programming.
—Previous involvement in Berkman Klein Center programs (optional)
—Any additional information you’d like to share with us (optional)
—Demographic data (optional)
Attachments you will be required to upload include the following. Please consider this information carefully and ensure your attachments meet these requirements:
—Cover letter: one page cover letter introducing yourself. This should briefly summarize your professional career – including current faculty position, previous faculty positions, key areas of study, key publications – and explain your interest and excitement in participating in the Institute and its programming.
—Project proposal: one to two pages summarizing your proposed project. What question or problem will the project address? How will the project aim to explore that question or problem? How, specifically, will you use your Visiting Scholarship to advance and complete the project? Which particular Harvard or local resources will be especially important or useful? What might the output of the project be (of course, this is flexible as the project develops)? What resources are needed or assumed (data, research assistants, IRB support, etc.)? How might your work benefit the fields of Internet and society, networked communication, and social media?
—1-3 work samples: submit a PDF of work samples for a public audience, such as articles, op-eds, events, etc. Ideally, these should connect to the project proposal in some way, or help to demonstrate the feasibility of the project proposal. Please submit these samples as one combined PDF. Do not include more than three samples; we will only review the first three samples.
If contacted for an interview, you should be prepared to share reference letters from two references. At least one reference should be academic; the other can be from a practitioner in the fields of Internet and society, networked communication, and social media; or both references can be academic.
Additional questions, contact us at email@example.com.