Updated 16th August 2021
Image: Harvard Arete Fellowship
EA fellowships are small groups of admitted fellows which meet multiple times to learn about some aspect of effective altruism. Fellowships are an excellent way of providing people with a solid understanding of effective altruism principles and motivation to take action.
Many groups run fellowships for their own community and online fellowships open to people from anywhere in the world are advertised on the EA Virtual Programs platform.
Introductory fellowships usually involve groups of undergraduate students attending a series of structured group discussions and other activities every week. They allow newcomers to get a high-fidelity introduction to EA and have proven to be excellent recruitment tools for university groups. Some uni groups choose to launch their group with an introductory fellowship before later introducing other club activities.
Marie Davidsen Buhl (firstname.lastname@example.org) is available to support groups running an Introductory Fellowship with any curriculum.
A fellowship might be a good fit for your group if your organisers:
- Are confident at public speaking and facilitating discussions
- Have plenty of time to plan and execute the fellowship
- Have good organisational skills
- Are very familiar with EA
Fellowships tend to appear prestigious and selective. They often expect a high level of commitment from participants, who in turn expect facilitators to deliver a professional program. We recommend running a fellowship only if you are confident that you can organise it reliably throughout its duration.
Introductory EA Fellowships for Students
This overview from the fellowship coordinators from Yale, Harvard and Stanford, outline the goals, possible structures, and common pitfalls of introductory fellowships: Slides with notes, video (17 minutes).
Different groups use different formats. Here are three options.
- Accept many applicants from a pool and split them into groups of 3-5 fellows. Assign a facilitator to each group. The groups can meet at different times of the week for weekly discussions. Groups using this model usually have social events for all their fellows.
- Invite approximately 15 people from a pool of applicants to attend weekly discussions. Encourage each fellow to have a one-on-one meeting with the facilitator. Harvard (Arete) and Yale EA are using this model.
- Run the fellowship through a series of regular one-on-one meetings (or one-on-two meetings). The facilitator’s time commitment is greater with this model, but groups report that 1-1 dynamics feel more warm and supportive than large group discussions. Additionally, facilitators can tailor the programme to the individuals involved. EA St Andrews and Stanford EA have tried this model. EA St Andrews now uses a combination of 1:1 meetings and group meetings.
EA Virtual Programs Curriculum
This is the most tested and frequently updated curriculum. This is an 8-week course developed in 2020 with assistance from a variety of experts; trialed over 2020 and 2021; and updated based on this feedback. We think this fellowship is an excellent way to introduce people to effective altruism, and we encourage groups to consider using the curriculum.
EA Oxford Curriculum
The EA Oxford Introductory Fellowship curriculum is an 8-week course, which the EA Virtual Programs course was based on. The main difference is that this curriculum has a week on forecasting, and the EA Virtual Programs instead has a week on criticisms of EA.
The Arete which was first designed by Harvard EA and later replicated in several other universities. This fellowship aims to provide a complete education in EA concepts for newcomers.
This Google Drive folder maintained by Harvard EA contains all necessary materials to run an Arete Fellowship. Start with the Arete Fellowship Guide, which explains how the fellowship works and advises on how to make it successful. If you like their model, consider copying Harvard’s resources and modifying them to suit your group.
A post on the EA Forum describes Harvard EA’s experience with running the fellowship.
Marka Ellertson (email@example.com) from Harvard EA can advise you if you are interested in running a similar fellowship.
Yale EA Fellowship
Yale runs a similar fellowship to Arete, but with more emphasis on global health and poverty.
- 2020 online summer fellowship review.
- Yale EA fellowship reading list.
- A detailed guide to running fellowships. This is based on their in-person 2018 fellowship and contains links to all the relevant resources.
Jessica McCurdy (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Yale EA can advise you if you are interested in running a similar fellowship.
EA Oxford Fellowship
EA Oxford’s online fellowship guide contains reading lists and initial instructions for fellows.
Other Types of Fellowships
Some uni groups run fellowships focusing on effective career paths. Other groups run advanced fellowships to further the understanding of people who are already familiar with EA principles.
CEA can provide funding for fellowship costs such as books in the required reading list, Zoom subscriptions for online fellowships, room hire and snacks for in-person fellowships, advertising and more. Options for sourcing books.
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