Public Voices Fellowship

The OpEd Project’s Public Voices Fellowship is a national initiative first piloted at Yale, Stanford and Princeton Universities, and now rolling out in partnership with top universities and foundations across the nation. Learn more about our Public Voices Fellowship partners.

The goal is to dramatically increase the public impact of our nation's top underrepresented thinkers, and to ensure our ideas help shape the important conversations of our age. The root problem is not a lack of knowledge or experience, but a culture in which minority voices (especially women) rarely have the inside information, high-level support and inside connections to become influential on a large scale. The OpEd Project has successfully led programs with scores of major organizations and universities, and we have had stunning results.

Each Public Voices Fellowship is customized for approximately 20 women and underrepresented thought leaders at each institution. Fellowships last one year and in most cases lead to ongoing partnerships. If you are interested in bringing the Public Voices Fellowship to your institution, contact us.

The basics

  • One-year program, up to 20 fellows (renewable for multiple years)
  • Four interactive day-long seminars designed to expand thinking and amplify expertise
  • Dedicated Editors (2+ top journalists) provide one-on-one editing and coaching
  • Monthly calls with media insiders (including: TED, NYT, CNN, Wikipedia)
  • Ongoing mentoring (fellows receive ongoing access to our journalist mentors, if fellowship renews)



Our approach is playful, dynamic and results-oriented. Programs are based on time-tested models of transformational learning around thought leadership—games, high stakes scenarios, and interactive thought experiments challenge participants to think more expansively about their knowledge, why it matters, and how to use it. Programs are designed to share the tools of powerful argument and generate concrete results, as well as to cultivate a sense of social responsibility by empowering participants to see their potential impact on the world, writ large.



We are not interested in providing a service, so much as creating an outcome. Our goal is 100% success: we envision that every participant will produce tangible pieces of thought leadership in influential forums (which may include op-eds, TED talks, radio/TV appearances, speeches, wikipedia entries, and more), and that these will greatly ampify their influence and the thought leadership footprint of their institution.


Curriculum And Themes

The Public Voices Fellowship is a radical experiment in the ethical use of power and ideas. It's purpose is to increase the public impact of our knowledge, not merely via the media, but at the core of our thinking process. What do we know? Why does it matter? How can we use it for greatest good? We endeavor to test the best existing research on these questions, and learn from live experiments. We tackle big philosophical questions: What is the social obligation that comes with knowledge? What are the potential risks and opportunities of a world where ideas can go viral in a way that was never before possible? And what if we could expand the timeframe of our legacy? And we focus on concrete outcomes: in between our in-person convenings, fellows connect virtually, engage in calls with high-level media insiders, and work together to produce results across public platforms - which may include op-eds, blogs, TED talks/animations, TV, radio and social media, white papers and much, much more.

1. KNOWLEDGE (1st Convening/Quarter):
What do we know, why does it matter, and how can we use it? In the first convening we use games, high-stakes scenarios and live experiments to explore the concepts of expertise and credibility, to examine the elements of powerful argument and persuasion (including evidence, how to address opposition and building consensus), and to challenge fellows to think in new and bigger ways about what they know and why it matters. We also reflect on the obligation that comes with knowledge.

2. CONNECTION (2nd Convening/Quarter):
How can we speed the pace of cross-pollination, and thereby develop better ideas that increase our value and relevance in the world? In the second convening we connect the dots between disparate ideas, fields, geographies, and time periods. We play games that explore the source of truly innovative thinking (where do good ideas come from?) and test our ideas of timing and timeliness. We discover unlikely yet authentic connections across people, time and space - and new ways in which our knowledge intersects with public events.

3. CONTAGION (3rd Convening/Quarter):
Why do some ideas travel farther and faster than others? What are the mechanisms and hallmarks of contagious thinking? The third convening explores the underpinnings and philosophical implications of a rapidly changing media landscape - in which ideas rise and spread in radically new ways. We work with multi-media platforms including TV/video, public speaking, TED and TED Ed, social media, and more. We also consider how teaching platforms can scale ideas across generations.

4. LEGACY (4th Convening/Quarter):
Why do we do what we do? And what is the enduring impact we wish to leave behind? In the fourth convening we use elemental questions to explore our individual ideas around purpose and legacy with a telescopic lens. What impact can we leave behind not simply on the day we die, but hundreds of years into the future, through our ideas? Fellows leave with a physical record of their motivations and accomplishments and with blueprints for the future.