Fung Global Fellows Program

Annual Research Topics

Current Research Topic

2021-22: Sustainable Futures

We define sustainability expansively.  What does economics teach us about inclusive growth, equality of opportunity, minimizing negative externalities, and the costs of low growth for job creation and skill acquisition?  How can countries, individually and collectively, leverage ecological sciences and engineering to scale energy sources that are both sustainable and practical, encourage environmentally sound consumption patterns, promote resource renewal and protect biodiversity?  What would sustainable global integration look like, and how would countries get there?  How is understanding the behavior of complex systems crucial to sustainability?  How can architecture and engineering build residences, workplaces, cities, and exurbs in smarter ways?  What can countries learn from sociology about supporting family structures, kin networks, and community institutions?  How might information science and technology render virtual public spheres civil while keeping them open, and promote a sense of shared truth?  How do changes in environmental quality and access to vaccines affect those that bear the heaviest burden of pollution and disease? How can societies use political science to improve governance, raise political participation, and manage a wide diversity of views that healthy societies must have?  Above all, how can countries create and propagate consensus narratives of sustainability that balance interests? 

Faculty Acting Director | Stephen Kotkin - Director of PIIRS, John P. Birkelund ’52 Professor in History and International Affairsin the Department of History, and the Director of the Program in History and the Practice of Diplomacy.


Future Research Topics

2022-23: Sustainable Futures

(see description above)

Please visit our Call for Applications webpage for more information about the application process and requirements.


Past Research Topics

2019-20 and 2020-21: Thinking Globally

How people have thought about the planet has informed the institutions, norms, and policies that have pulled it together and torn it apart.  For centuries, ideas of free trade, human rights or global governance have framed cooperation and competition, order and disorder.  Such ideas have also spawned border-crossing movements, from campaigns to end slavery to commitments to reduce carbon emissions.  In turn, global thinking and action have often reinforced commitments to national ideas and efforts to curb global exchange.  The goal of this research theme is to explore how ideas framed the understanding of interests and the making of institutions that have yielded commonness and conflict across and within borders.  We also want to understand how these ideas and practices came into being through scientific networks, foundations, and think tanks.  In addition, we will examine rival world ideas that have challenged prevailing orthodoxies.  The goal of the 2019-20 Fung Global Fellows cohort will be to explore the ways people learned to rely on or to reject strangers far away, as well as to imagine how global relationships came to be and could be different.  

Faculty Directors: Jeremy Adelman, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History (2019-20) and Sandra Bermann, Cotsen Professor in the Humanities. Professor of Comparative Literature (2020-21).

2018-19: Interdependence

Food, clothes, entertainment, and the security and health of the planet depend on what distant people do for, with, and against others.  Sometimes, recognition of interdependence has led to cooperation, other times to conquest or competition, and frequently to a mixture of all three.  Oftentimes, new social identities and movements, national, regional, and religious, emerge in response to rising interdependence and the convergences and inequities it has produced.  The goal of the 2018-19 Fung Global Fellows cohort was to explore the ways people learned to rely on or to reject strangers far away, as well as to imagine how global relationships came to be and could be different.  

Faculty Director: Jeremy Adelman, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History

2017-18: The Culture and Politics of Resentment

Resentment is a powerful emotion for expressing culture and politics. Experiences and memories of humiliation, oppression, and marginalization have stimulated emotions of resentment, and produced compelling demands for political inclusion and justice around the world. Alternatively, rage against what is seen as the “tyranny of the minority,” inequality, the corruption and aloofness of elites, the “foreign,” and the illegitimate have generated powerful populist upsurges against the perceived enemies of a homogeneous body of “the people.”  The goal of the 2017-18 Fung Global Fellows cohort was to explore the full range of phenomena involved in the culture and politics of resentment, the conditions that produce such sentiments, and the projects they advance.  Scholars whose work addressed this topic in any historical period or region of the world and from any disciplinary background in the humanities and social sciences were invited to apply. 

Faculty Director: Gyan Prakash, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History

2016-17: International Society - Institutions and Actors in Global Governance

The growth of international organizations and transnational actors has brought about the emergence of a dense international society above the nation-state. Under what circumstances do new international organizations or transnational associations emerge, and when do they expand in their membership and jurisdiction? Does international society function as a constraint on states? How do states and societal actors navigate the complex and overlapping jurisdictions of international organizations? In what ways do international organizations and associations function as distinct cultures or as bureaucracies with their own interests? The 2016-17 cohort of Fung Fellows was to examine the emergence, functioning, and effects of international organizations and transnational associations of all types (state and non-state, focused on a single issue or world region, or examined comparatively) from a cultural, historical, political, sociological, or other perspective. 

Faculty Director: Christina Davis, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School

2015-16: Ethnic Politics and Identities

Current events around the world highlighted the role of ethnic politics and identities in shaping domestic and international political arenas. The Fung Global Fellows Program invited scholars whose work explored the causes, narrative modalities, and consequences of the politicization of ethnic, racial, and national divides from a comparative perspective.

Faculty Director: Deborah J. Yashar, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School

2014-15: Global Diffusion

The objects of diffusion include specific modes of social categorization (such as “race” in census forms), principles of legitimation (such as democracy), government policies (such as minority quota systems), forms of conflict (such as revolutions), or cultural practices (such as Tango dancing or marrying “in white”). The program invited applications from scholars developing new, innovative ways to study global diffusion processes. Analytically oriented approaches that identified recurring patterns and mechanisms through rigorous comparison of multiple cases or quantitative analysis, with broad geographic (preferably transcontinental) coverage, were of particular interest for this program.

Faculty Director: Andreas Wimmer, Hughes-Rogers Professor of Sociology

2013-14: Languages and Authority

In the program’s inaugural year, the fellows and the program's seminar series focused on how languages interact with political, social, economic, and cultural authority.  Languages can be powerful tools for expressing and asserting authority, yet they also constitute forms of authority in and of themselves (such as in the standardization and uniformity that they impose). Languages as forms of authority are also contested, and language communities have often formed a basis for resisting authority. Possible topics for this cycle included the ways in which languages and language use interact with globalization, empire, decolonization, nation-state formation, nationalism, language policy, language ideology, social stratification, migration, commerce and trade, social and religious movements, and the sociology of knowledge production.

Faculty Director: Michael D. Gordin, Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History