Anthropology Magazine

SAPIENS Public Scholars Training Fellowship

SAPIENS Public Scholars Training Fellowship


With the support of a three-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the SAPIENS Public Scholars Training Fellowship program guides anthropologists on accessible writing and podcasting for broad nonacademic audiences. The purpose of this fellowship program is to provide in-depth training for anthropologists in the craft of science communication and public scholarship—to transform their research into stories that engage the public and spur readers and listeners to rethink themselves and their world.

Applications for the fellowship program will be accepted each summer to select a yearly cohort of 10 fellows. Each year will present a particular theme, drawing primarily from the research areas around cultural evolution: the Wisdom of World Cultures (2022–2023), the Impacts of Technology (2023–2024), and Global Challenges, Cultural Opportunities (2024–2025).

Each fellow will be selected for the academic year (September 1–May 31) and be expected to: (1) enthusiastically participate in regular Zoom meetings and trainings with their cohort; (2) pitch, develop, and publish at least one article for SAPIENS; (3) pitch, develop, and publish at least one article for another popular magazine; and (4) contribute to one SAPIENS podcast episode in collaboration with our production partner, House of Pod.

As part of this program, fellows will attend an exclusive quarterly keynote lecture by four renowned science writers and editors: Carl Zimmer, The New York Times; Kate Wong, Scientific American; Samir Patel, Atlas Obscura; and Amanda Mascarelli, The Conversation.

We are especially interested in bringing historically marginalized voices—such as by race, ethnicity, gender identity, class, geography, or ability—to the center of public conversations.

fellowship benefits

Benefits of the fellowship include deepening skills in popular writing and podcasting, individual mentoring with SAPIENS staff and partners, an expanded professional network, public recognition for one’s research, and a US$2,500 award upon the fellowship’s completion.

Annual Theme Descriptions

The Wisdom of World Cultures (2022–2023)

Every human society around the world has developed cultural mechanisms to navigate their world and create meaning. Many cultural beliefs and practices have the potential not only to explain the past, but to guide the present and future. For this theme, we are most interested in anthropological projects that seek to understand how culture can guide knowledge of human truths and help people make just judgments. Such projects might consider the origins of language, the emergence of religion, the birth and death of traditions, redressing the harms of historic violence, or multispecies relationships. These projects will search for lessons from human cultures that can inspire reflection about our collective condition of being human—past, present, and future.

The Impacts of Technology (2023–2024)

For millions of years, the construction of technologies has impacted nonhuman animals and the human lineage. Today being human is entwined with making, using, and valuing material objects. Being human also means applying knowledge to change and manipulate the environments we live in. Objects enable and shape evolutionary forces, are the spark and expression of imagination, guide and structure social relations, transform and destroy the environment, and much more. For this theme, we are looking for anthropological projects that, for example, address the impacts of technology on human evolution, social organization, language and communication, historical trajectories, or the natural world. These projects will tackle big questions about technology’s ultimate purpose, limits, and possibilities.

Global Challenges, Cultural Opportunities (2024–2025)

Culture is a force that drives social interactions, beliefs, imagination, relationships, politics, communication, emotions, ethics, identities, memories, wars, the creation of art, and so much more in human and animal life. Culture makes us who we are and is the source of so much human value: beauty, faith, morality. Yet springing from the same source are adaptations that cause much harm: pride, greed, violence. In the layered crises facing our world—increasing inequalities, enduring bigotries, ecological collapse—we must work harder than ever before to recognize the reasons for our faults and apply the possibilities of human creativity. For this theme, we are most interested in projects that highlight how anthropology is uniquely positioned to share stories of cultural adaptation and transformation. As practitioners in a field that is inherently interdisciplinary—one that bridges culture and biology, and takes both a long-term and contemporary view of humanity—anthropologists can tackle topics from migration to climate change, from political sovereignties to religious traditions. These projects will provide key disciplinary frameworks for where humans have come from and use that knowledge to anticipate our collective destinations.


The application deadline is July 15 annually, 2022–2024, with the fellowship beginning the September immediately following. So you can plan your schedule, know that it takes us two weeks to complete the review process and arrive at a final decision on the cohort of fellows.

Applicants must be pursuing a research area that addresses the year’s theme and cannot defer an offer of a fellowship to a subsequent year. Successful applicants can only receive the fellowship one time; however, unsuccessful applicants may apply for the next cycle.


Applicants must be an ABD Ph.D. student currently enrolled in an anthropology degree program, have a Ph.D. in anthropology, and/or have an appointment in an anthropology department. Qualified applicants of any nationality or institutional affiliation may apply.

Criteria of Evaluation

Selection will be based on four criteria:

  1. Quality of the applicant’s research and its potential contribution to anthropological knowledge, theory, and debate
  2. Convergence of the applicant’s research with the year’s theme
  3. Applicant’s potential as an engaged public scholar
  4. Degree to which the applicant’s background, perspective, and experience will enrich the diversity of SAPIENS Magazine and the selected cohort

Application Procedures

To present your proposal in the best possible light, closely follow all the procedures for completing your application. If you have any questions, contact us at or (212) 683-5000.

The application asks the following:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Short bio (up to 100 words)
  • Academic credentials (anthropology student/degree completed/appointments)
  • Upload a two-page CV (Word or PDF)
  • Describe your research and its potential contribution to anthropological knowledge, theory, and debate (up to 300 words)
  • Describe your interest in the year’s theme: the Wisdom of World Cultures (2022–2023); the Impacts of Technology (2023–2024); and Global Challenges, Cultural Opportunities (2024–2025) (up to 200 words)
  • Describe your interest in and/or contributions to engaged public scholarship (up to 200 words)
  • SAPIENS is committed to bringing historically marginalized voices—such as by race, ethnicity, gender identity, class, geography, or ability—to the center of public conversations. If applicable, please describe how your background, perspective, or research contribute to this goal (up to 100 words)

By submitting your application, if selected, you are agreeing to SAPIENS’ Terms of Use and to collaboratively working together with your colleagues, SAPIENS’ editorial team, and project partners in a timely, responsive, and respectful manner.

Please do not send any other materials beyond what the application requests. Do not send transcripts, letters of recommendation, manuscripts, publications, photographs, or recordings. We will not use this material in the review process, and we cannot return it to you.

Applicants must create a Submittable account and submit through the portal here.


CART captioning for the event can be found here.