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How to apply for a Harkin Institute fellowship

The Harkin Institute Fellows program assembles professionals to facilitate cooperative, high-quality, nonpartisan research and analysis. This work is concentrated in two areas:

  • The institute's four public policy areas: people with disabilities, health and wellness, retirement security, and labor and employment
  • Engagement and original use of archival materials from the Tom Harkin Archival Collection in the special collections archive at Drake University's Cowles Library

Harkin Institute fellows create original work products that provide insight and education for policymakers, the public, and students, aligning with the Drake University mission to facilitate responsible global citizenship.

Fellowship details

Harkin Institute fellows may be faculty of Drake University of another institute, gap-year or doctoral scholars, or professional practitioners. Preference is given to faculty on sabbatical, retired professional practitioners, gap-year or doctoral scholars, and projects that have already received outside financial support. Drake University faculty chosen as fellows can negotiate a course reassignment with the provost office.

Fellowships may be one semester, one academic year, two academic years, or a shorter specified duration, dependent on the institute's prioritites and the nature of the applicant's proposed work.

The Harkin Institute supports fellows through reimbursement of research-related expenditures, student employee wages, office space, and administrative support.

The Harkin Institute executive director establishes the term and conditions of the fellowship. The director of operations and public policy oversees the fellowshp logistics, support, and deadlines during a fellow's tenure.

The number of fellows varies annually depending upon the institute's priorities and applicants' proposals.

Fellows' responsibilities

Fellows are expected to:

  • Conduct original, data-driven research and analysis on the topics and policy priorities identified by The Harkin Institute with the goal of determining best practices and translating those practices into public policy tools; or
  • Support education and outreach for the institute's ongoing programming or the development of new programming.

Fellows will engage students in their work, produce tangible work products for multiple audiences, represent the instiute at events and programs, serve as an unbiased source for the public and media, and refrain from public advocacy efforts or partisan political activity.

All data generated, work published, or other product that reflects research or programming during the term of the fellowship will publicly acknowledge The Harkin Institute and is the shared intellectual property of the institute.

Application and selection

Fellows will be selected by The Harkin Institute executive director with consultation from The Harkin Institute National Advisory Committee. Applicants are required to submit proposals that include:

  1. Statement outlining how the proposal relates to and advances the goals or The Harkin Institute, including whether work will involve use of the Tom Harkin Archival Collection
  2. Statement outlining how the proposal will build upon Retired Senator Tom Harkin's legacy, with a focus on the future of one of the policy focus areas
  3. Assessment of need within the proposal's selected public policy area, including a survey of past and present efforts and products
  4. Work plan that identifies project timelines, fellow's time commitment, and strategy to ensure both timelines and commitments are feasible
  5. Description of proposed collaboration with faculty, whether at Drake University or external
  6. Description of plan to engage students in research and other activities
  7. Estimated budget
  8. Discussion of opportunity to leverage external funding to support the proposed research or programming
  9. Description that includes measurable goals and defines the format of the finished product, its intended audiences, and how the project incorporates one or more of the three expressions of the institute's public policy work
    • Data-driven analysis and research: evidence-based, nonpartisan research and analysis work product in one of the institute's four focus areas with the goal of dertmining best practices and translating those practices into informed public policy tools and options
    • Outreach: work product that presents information to decision makers, the public, and students in a way that is digestible and easily understood to facilitate knowledge-based societal conversations and public policy
    • Education: work product that informs the public and students through expert resources for media, engagement in social media, speeches and conference presentations, visual/audio experiences, and writing of opinion pieces, briefs, and white papers, etc.
  10. Description of other research or activities the applicant plans to undertake through the duration of the fellowship

To apply, send a proposal to Harkin Institute executive director Joseph Jones at Contact the institute with any questions at 515-271-3623.

Harkin Institute
October 2, 2017
Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Stephen Benjamin will discuss the evolving role of American mayors in today’s political environment and other top issues facing American cities at The Harkin Institute’s Sussman Lecture on Oct. 30 at Drake University.