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Postdoctoral Fellowships - Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society

Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society
California, United States
$67,000.00 - $67,000.00
Posted Date
Oct 10, 2019

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Position Type
Faculty Positions, Business & Management, Economics, Communications, Digital Media, Media Studies, Humanities, Philosophy, Professional Fields, Law & Legal Studies, Public Administration & Policy, Science, Technology & Mathematics, Computer Sciences & Technology, Engineering, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Political Science & International Relations, Psychology, Sociology
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
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The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society brings promising new scholars to Stanford University for 1-2 year appointments as postdoctoral fellows.

Currently Stanford PACS is accepting applications for two postdoctoral fellowship opportunities for the 2020-21 academic year:

Each fellow will be affiliated with the relevant Stanford PACS initiative (either the Digital Civil Society Lab or the Program on Democracy and the Internet) and potentially also with a department or school at Stanford University.

The annual fellowship stipend is $67,000, plus the standard benefits that postdoctoral fellows at Stanford University receive, including health insurance and travel funds. The fellowship program falls under U.S. Immigration J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa activities.

The start date of the fellowship will be September 2020, unless otherwise agreed. To assume a postdoctoral fellowship, scholars must have a PhD in hand by July 1, 2020. We cannot consider applications from scholars who earned a PhD earlier than May 1, 2018.

For both of these fellowships, we encourage applications from candidates representing a broad range of disciplines including the social sciences, humanities, law, computer science and engineering.


  1. Program on Democracy and the Internet


The Program on Democracy and the Internet (PDI) envisions digital technologies supporting rather than subverting democracy by maximizing the benefits and minimizing the threats through changes in policy, technology, and social and ethical technological norms.

Digital technologies are having a profound impact on democracy in the United States and around the world. New communication platforms that give voice to the previously voiceless also empower nefarious actors who seek to undermine democracy, silence journalists and minority groups, manipulate search engines, sow distrust, and more. Concerns about virality, deception, anonymity, echo chambers, and platform information monopolies pose new challenges for democracy in the digital age. Current research to understand these challenges and, on the basis of theory and evidence, craft solutions, remains nascent, fragmented, and incomplete. A strong knowledge base is critical for policy makers, corporate leaders, and technologists to make decisions that protect and promote democracy in the digital age.

The Program on Democracy and the Internet is investigating key research themes which include:

  • Reform options for platforms to combat hate speech, bots, and disinformation.
  • Algorithmic bias
  • Deteriorating health of digital information ecosystems and its effect on democracy and civil rights
  • Changes in the media landscape due to shifts caused by digital innovation.
  • Impact of the internet on election campaigns and voting.

The Program on Democracy and the Internet’s work draws from the social sciences, humanities, engineering, computer science, and the law to understand the challenges digital technologies pose to liberal democracies around the world.

Each fellow will collaborate with one of the PDI faculty on PDI research relevant to their field of study and current line of scholarship. The fellows will spend 20 percent of their time working on their own research and 80 percent assisting in the research of one of the PDI directors.  For examples of past work, see the publications page.  In addition, fellows may be asked to coordinate speaker series and seminars. 

The program is led by Principal Investigators Nathaniel Persily, James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Co-Director of the Cyber Policy Center, Francis Fukuyama, Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute, and PACS Faculty Co-Director and Professor of Political Science, Rob Reich.

PDI is a joint initiative of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS) and the Cyber Policy Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. 

For a sense of the scholarship that PDI supports, see:


  1. Digital Civil Society Lab


The Digital Civil Society Lab (DCSL) envisions an independent civil society that thrives in the digital age through the safe, ethical and effective use of private digital resources for public benefit.

The digital age has transformed civil society participation and organization, and it has presented new challenges and threats. Our dependencies on digital software and infrastructure require new insights into how these digital systems work and how an independent civil society can engage them safely, ethically and effectively for mission.

The Digital Civil Society Lab aims to understand how digital technology has transformed civil society and shape these transformations by engaging research, practitioner and policy communities across the interconnected domains that support a thriving and independent civil society in the digital age:

  • Technology:software and hardware designed for the values and interest of civil society actors 
  • Organizations: structures and practices that align with civil society missions and protect institutional independence from markets or governments
  • Policy: legal practices and regulatory frames that protect the building blocks of civil society, including free association, speech, and privacy
  • Norms:social norms and practices that promote safe and ethical data collection, generation and use, and that support the critical role of civil society in democracies

The Digital Civil Society Lab is investigating key research themes which include:

  • The key dimensions of digital infrastructure and data and how they influence the role of independent civil society in democracies;
  • Understanding, creating, and expanding access to software, hardware and digital practices that align with the values of civil society in democracies;
  • The nature of digital data donations and/or the governance mechanisms, enterprise forms, or legal constructs that such donations require;
  • Understanding interactions between global digital networks, digital activism, and traditional and emergent forms of association in civil society.

The Lab’s research draws from the humanities, social sciences, engineering, computer science and the law to understand and advance the principles of civil society and democracies in the digital age. 

DCSL is an initiative of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS) and is led by Lucy Bernholz, senior research scholar at Stanford PACS, and Rob Reich, professor of Political Science and faculty co-director of Stanford PACS. 

For a sense of the scholarship that DCSL supports, see:

Please note:Postdoctoral fellows at DCSL are expected to participate fully in a biweekly seminar series at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and are expected to contribute to teaching the Digital Civil Society seminar in partnership with other DCSL faculty, scholars and postdocs.



To be considered for a postdoctoral fellowship with either the Program on Democracy and the Internet or with the Digital Civil Society Lab, submit an application via the online application portal.

Applicants will be asked to include the following:

  • Cover letter detailing the reasons for the applicant’s interest in the fellowship;
  • Curriculum Vitae;
  • Fellowship proposal detailing the research that the applicant would undertake while at Stanford, and how it fits within the research agenda of the specific initiative to which the applicant is applying. In this section, please disclose if you have additional funding arrangements.
  • Writing sample consisting of either a dissertation chapter or a recent published paper. There are no specific page length or formatting requirements for this sample;
  • Graduate transcript with proof that the applicant has completed all the requirements for the PhD, or a letter from their PhD advisor stating when they will do so;
  • Two (or more) Letters of Recommendation. These should be submitted via the application portal.


Questions about the Program on Democracy and the Internet should be directed to Eloise Duvillier at

Questions about the Digital Civil Society Lab should be directed to Heather Noelle Robinson at


Stanford University is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer, committed to increasing the diversity of its workforce. It welcomes applications from women, members of minority groups, veterans, persons with disabilities, and others who would bring additional dimensions to the university's research and teaching mission.


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