Resident Fellowship

Deadline:
1st November 2020

Resident Fellows seek to advance society's understanding of surveillance capitalism and change the way Reset works by embedding within Reset to produce creative research and technology outputs.

Profile

Through this Open Call, Reset strives to support a diverse and global group of individuals performing multidisciplinary and intersectional work to advance our understanding of the harms caused by surveillance capitalism and the opportunities to counteract them. Resident Fellows are able to leverage Reset and our network (the partners, communities, and fields of practice that Reset supports) to strengthen society's ability to understand, mitigate, and defend against these complex issues. The goal of the Resident Fellowship programme is to create new connections and perspectives that will ultimately deepen and expand our network’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Resident Fellows join the Reset team for a fixed period of time in order to work on a specific project designed to immediately change Reset’s way of working and thinking (or have a high likelihood of doing so shortly after completion). In addition to advancing Reset’s organisational capabilities through exposure to new perspectives and expertise, this Fellowship is also designed to produce public-facing outputs, support fellows engaging external actors, strengthen the fields in which we operate, and foster collaborative activities within the Reset network itself (among other fellows, current and past Reset-supported efforts, and the communities we consider most important).

This cross-disciplinary Fellowship is open to applicants of many different backgrounds, including (but not limited to) software developers, designers, lawyers, researchers, community organisers, artists, and journalists. All applicants, regardless of their background, must possess an understanding of the harms surveillance capitalism creates within affected societies, a passion to see these harms end, an idea of Reset’s role in ending them, and an excitement to be a part of the effort.

We want all our Resident Fellows to believe that through Reset, they can create real change. To this end, we prioritise applicants who are excited about connecting with and contributing to the growing network of those concerned with the effects of surveillance capitalism. We are also particularly interested in receiving applications from people who consider themselves underrepresented in the communities and field they hope to affect.

Participation

Before applying, each applicant must self-determine and define a project to pursue during their Fellowship. This project idea will be introduced as part of the applicant's application. Projects can either be (1) designed in collaboration with Reset from a list the maintained by the organisation, or (2) designed solely by the applicant. Each Resident Fellow that is accepted will then work with Reset to finalise their project plan. In doing so, fellows will be required to give an introductory presentation on their proposed work. At the end of the Fellowship, fellows will provide a closing presentation detailing their project conclusions and key takeaways. This presentation will be made available to the broader Reset network. Throughout the duration of the Fellowship, each fellow will have a Reset team member serve as a mentor. Resident Fellows will ultimately be accountable to Reset’s Executive Director.

As part-time contractors, active fellows will be regarded as a part of the Reset team and given the title of Resident Fellow. Resident Fellows are welcome to participate in regular day-to-day Reset work (but there is no expectation to work beyond that which is required for the fellow's project), and will be encouraged and given the ability to engage with all Reset team members, fellows, and partners in Reset's network (at both the organisational and community levels). Resident Fellows will receive support to attend our annual event and any team retreats that occur during the course of their Fellowship.

Note: This is not a Fellowship for those who want to spend time on focused, independent research. The Resident Fellowship programme is for individuals who want to directly engage with our team. Successful applicants will want to advance Reset's thinking and approach to addressing surveillance capitalism. They will also be able to see the value of their work on a bigger stage, and will be interested in creating impacts beyond their own field.

Where do Resident Fellows work?

Resident Fellows embed (virtually or physically) within Reset for the duration of their Fellowship. Work can be performed from any location that Reset can provide support, so long as fellows are capable of maintaining an online presence during selected work times and participating in regular check-ins as needed by Reset.

Project themes & ideas

Using one of the five themes listed below, applicants are invited to imagine a specific project or set of activities that will advance digital rights and improve society’s understanding of how surveillance capitalism affects the world. Successful Fellowship projects inform, convene, intervene, or provoke - all with an eye to both a broad impact as well as an immediate effect.

We are open to a wide range of potential outputs for Resident Fellowships, including code, white papers, social media engagements, op-eds, events, and other awareness-raising engagements. We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary and intersectional, cross-sector, and/or crazy ideas that tackle the relevant challenges posed by surveillance capitalism but which do not easily fit into a predefined category. We are also interested in creating connections and building synergies between our team and the projects and other fellows we support. We love it when our Resident Fellows experiment with new ideas or stretch our work and network in unexpected directions.

Themes

Resident Fellowship projects should address/embody at least one of the following five themes:

Computer and data science: Technical fellows who bring a core research question and the ability to demonstrate findings with technology prototypes and/or data visualisation. These fellows may be looking to expose critical shifts in technology and technology-supported environments, or interested in exploring the undiscovered or underreported social, cultural, and political implications of existing or expected technologies. Technical fellows may come from academia, industry, civil society, or the public sector - but we expect them to have an appropriate degree in computer or data science, or equivalent/relevant experience for their proposed project.

Human-centred design and evaluation: Fellows who have deep empathy for those most affected by surveillance capitalism and who view our work as building relationships over conducting transactions. These fellows may be looking to advance our community's ability and capacity to better learn from the people we’re trying to help, make sense of what we’ve learned (in order to identify the best opportunities to help going forward), create and introduce solutions to those who need them most, and measure the actual impact of our work (by evaluating the experiences of those at the receiving end of our engagements). Applicants will be able to advance our thinking on one or more of these areas through research or case studies into specific or broader contexts (and will have experience utilising existing methodologies or the capability to create new ones as needed).

Capacity building: Fellows who understand that the most impactful technologies that advance digital rights rely more on expertise than software development. These fellows may be looking to advance our network’s ability in areas we already know are important (such as those Reset already supports), or they may recognise a missing or under-resourced capacity that is limiting the ability of our partners to better advance digital rights. Applicants will have the necessary expertise to research and demonstrate how we can improve such capacity shortcomings.

Organisational bridging: Fellows from other organisations, companies, civil society, or public sector entities that are grappling directly with questions pertaining to the challenges/threats posed to digital rights in a world controlled by surveillance capitalists and associated exploitative technologies. These fellows bring a crucial, practical orientation to our work and come with a mandate from their organisation to explore a particular question or issue during their time at Reset (and then bring that knowledge back to their home institution). With the fellow, we will actively seek to build a strong relationship between Reset and the fellow’s home institution. We’re especially interested in those applicants who play a technical, community, legal, or policy role in their organisation.

Arts and culture: Fellows who see how artistic and cultural production can help advance the general public's understanding of the complexities of surveillance capitalism and, in turn, are able to drive individual and collective imaginings of multiple futures. These fellows, who are already leveraging arts and culture, feel a connection to the global challenges created by surveillance capitalism, Reset’s areas of work, and/or the specific work of Reset-supported projects and related research topics. Their work challenges commonplace narratives running through debates, public discourse, and social norms surrounding surveillance capitalism.

Ideas

We welcome applications that pose entirely new questions from different topics or themes that push Reset in new directions, as well as applications that complement and expand our current focus. Relevant project ideas include the follow queries:

  • What insights exist within the thousands of applications Reset has received to-date? How could these insights advance the Reset application process and the network of people responding? How could Reset identify and distribute those insights in a safe manner?
  • How are advancements in machine learning, big data, and other components of artificial intelligence advancing or harming our ability to respond? What gaps in capacity or skills are the network of communities responding lacking that inhibit their ability to leverage these opportunities or to defend against these threats?
  • How are advancements with decentralised web technologies advancing or harming our ability to respond? What gaps in capacity or skills do we collectively possess that allow our network to take advantage of these opportunities or to defend against these threats?
  • What legal processes/improvements are needed to respond adequately? What are the experiences of projects with or without sufficient legal support? What are the effects on projects, both with and without sufficient legal support, when legal issues arise? How does this affect the advancement of digital rights? What can we do to mitigate any stalling effects?
  • What has been Reset's effect on surveillance capitalism thus far? How do we determine our impact, both quantitatively and qualitatively, in a way that prioritises evaluating those most affected and those we support?
  • What are the known limitations and opportunities available to sustain virtuous open-source technology alternatives? How do successful widely used open-source technologies, or their core dependencies, sustain themselves? What could Reset and other donors do to allow alternative models beyond the "virtuous volunteer" for supporting critical code?
  • Why is Reset not connecting with a particular community of people affected by surveillance capitalism? What aspects of how we work and how we present ourselves must change in order for us to create a shared connection and provide more support? How do we measure the success of those changes?

Things to avoid

  • Any testing and/or collection of end-user data that violates established ethical principles.

Important considerations

  • Projects should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to our Goals, objectives, & areas of work. Specific project objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable (with anticipated activities and milestones projected by month). Overall project goals should extend beyond traditional audiences.
  • For the duration of Fellowships, fellows will be expected to work with their host organisation.
  • All individuals must acquire the appropriate work authorisation. Applicants will need to secure their own visa and work permit (if applicable). For instance, if a student with an I-20 visa intends to carry out their project in the United States, they will need to apply to use Curricular Practical Training for their Fellowship. We are happy to provide visa letters upon request.
  • Prior to submitting an application, applicants should review all relevant resources, including Open Call information, Our Guide to Open Calls, and the applicable Data use policy for applicants.
Deadline:
1st November 2020