Research Fellows Program

Undergraduate Research Fellows Program

Invitation for Applications for the 2024-2025 Academic Year

The Eric H. Holder Jr. Initiative for Civil and Political Rights invites applications for its second Undergraduate Research Fellows cohort.

Our Mission

The Eric H. Holder Jr. Initiative for Civil and Political Rights will carve out a distinctive experience for Columbia University’s undergraduate students. Building on the foundational knowledge nurtured in the Core Curriculum, the Holder Initiative will sponsor courses, public events, student internships, and fellowships for practitioners that extend the themes and questions of the Core into a contemporary context.

Focusing on what Holder describes as “the duties, the rights, and the weighty responsibilities of American citizenship,” the Holder Initiative will foster scholarly inquiry, policy debate, and public engagement that draws on the principles of the Core. Discouraging retreat into what Holder calls “the quiet prejudice of inaction,” the Holder Initiative will challenge students to ‘live the Core’ by encouraging civic action on and beyond campus.

The Program

Founded in the spirit of former Dean James J. Valentini’s commitment to undergraduate education and his call to “live the Core,” the Eric H. Holder Jr. Initiative for Civil and Political Rights Research Fellows program offers rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors the opportunity to pursue justice-related research outside of the classroom. Our inaugural cohort of five Columbia College students will be vetted and selected in spring 2023 for a fall semester launch. Upon acceptance to the program, fellows will work with the Holder Initiative staff to identify and secure a faculty mentor.

During the one-year term of the fellowship, students will develop their own research projects with the guidance of their faculty mentor and Frank A. Guridy, Dr. Kenneth and Kareitha Forde Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies and Professor of History, and Executive Director of the Holder Initiative.

In addition to working on their research projects independently, fellows will participate in bi-weekly dinner meetings to cohere as a group and to learn from members of our broader community on campus. Weekly meetings will include:

  • Presentations of student research at various stages of development

  • Visits from Columbia faculty, who will share stories and thoughts about their work and career paths

  • Visits from Columbia graduate students, who will share stories and thoughts about their experience of graduate school

  • Visits from Columbia administrators, who will share information about various resources and opportunities

The Award

Accepted fellows will receive a stipend of $5,000 ($2,500 per term) to be used to support their individual justice-focused research project.

Application Process

To apply, students should send:

  1. A CV

  2. A one-page letter of interest

  3. A 2- to 4-page research statement outlining the project the student will pursue during the fellowship, including an explanation of its importance and potential impact, and how it connects with the goals of the Holder Initiative.

  4. One letter of recommendation

Please send all applications with the subject line “Application for Undergraduate Fellows Program” to Elizabeth Manchester at Questions about the program may be directed to Elizabeth Manchester.

Applications for the 2024-25 program are due by April 22, 2024.