ACLS announces 2020 Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows competition


The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is pleased to announce the tenth annual competition of the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program. In 2020, ACLS will place up to 21 recent humanities PhDs in top nonprofits and government agencies, where they will work in the fields of policy, community development, arts and culture, media, and international affairs. The program is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The program promotes the visibility and value of the humanities PhD beyond the academy by offering opportunities for PhDs to contribute to the public good through two-year, career-building fellowship placements. This year’s organizations and positions are
  • Alliance for Higher Education in Prison (Denver, CO) – Community Engagement Director
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (Washington, DC) – Government Relations Project Manager
  • American Civil Liberties Union (New York, NY) – Research Associate
  • Asian Cultural Council (New York, NY) – Manager of Strategic Research
  • Children’s Defense Fund (Washington, DC) – Senior Research Associate
  • City of Seattle Innovation & Performance Team (Seattle, WA) – Outreach & Engagement Research Analyst
  • Humanities Action Lab (Newark, NJ) – Public Programming and Exhibitions Manager
  • Institute for Study Abroad (Indianapolis, IN) – Assistant Director of Global Learning and Assessment
  • National Book Foundation (New York, NY) – Education Programs Manager
  • New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (Newark, NJ) – Policy Analyst
  • ONE Archives Foundation (Los Angeles, CA) – Communications Manager
  • Oxfam America (Washington, DC) – Research and Policy Advisor
  • Partnership for Public Service (Washington, DC) – Writer and Editor, Communications Team
  • Partnership for Working Families (Oakland, CA) – Public Goods Policy Strategist
  • Pittsburgh Cultural Trust (Pittsburgh, PA) – Government Relations Specialist
  • Refugees International (Washington, DC) – Program Manager
  • San Francisco Arts Commission (San Francisco, CA) – Community Impact Analyst
  • Solutions Journalism Network (New York, NY) – Higher Education Program Specialist
  • Twin Cities Public Television (St Paul, MN) – Audience Development Project Manager
  • University Settlement Society of New York (New York, NY) – Advocacy Director
  • Washington Center for Equitable Growth (Washington, DC) – Engagement Project Manager

For detailed position descriptions, see the program webpage. Answers to frequently asked questions are here.

Fellows will receive an annual stipend of $70,000 and have access to employer-based health insurance through the host organizations. In addition, ACLS provides funds for relocation and professional development, as well as virtual and in-person career development services. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits to Public Fellows is the growing network of engaged alumni (now numbering nearly 200), who have pursued careers beyond the academy. Many Public Fellows program alumni are eager to share their experiences with newcomers to the fellowship, current graduate students, and the wider public.

Shortly after the competition announcement, many Public Fellows alumni took to social media to get the word out about this unique fellowship opportunity, using the hashtag #publicfellows:

(To find out more about past Public Fellows, visit:

Applicants for the Public Fellows program must have a PhD in the humanities or humanistic social sciences conferred between September 1, 2016, and June 19, 2020, and must have defended and deposited their dissertations no later than April 6, 2020. Applicants must be authorized to work legally in the United States.

Applications will be accepted only through the ACLS online application system.
Applicants should not contact any of the organizations directly. Please visit for complete position descriptions, eligibility criteria, and application information. Applications must be submitted by 9pm EDT Wednesday, March 18, 2020.