News and Articles

A Glimpse into the 2020 Fellowship: Transforming Research into Action

February 5, 2020

Are you passionate about community-driven change? Are you focused on building a more compassionate and connected world? The Social Connectedness Fellowship offers recent graduates the opportunity to conduct research, outreach and advocacy across our core thematic areas. It’s a unique opportunity to enhance your knowledge, advance your career and building belonging in our world.

For the past three years, the Social Connectedness Fellowship has enabled recent graduates to develop experience in policy advocacy, program management and partnership development. The program has equipped candidates with an interdisciplinary research lens and practical tools through which to analyze and address the pressing issues of our time.

Fellows join with partner organizations that work to build belonging and social inclusion across a variety of disciplines—climate change, disability and older people’s rights, refugee integration, inclusive education, placemaking and urban design, and much more.

Fellows gain knowledge and develop research specific to their partner organization’s objectives/mandates, as well as connect with other partners to learn from their expertise. Past partners have included: Data-Driven Lab, Special Olympics International, Human Rights Watch, Synergos Institute, TakingITGlobal, Partners in Health, Our Place Sustainable Developments, The Stop Community Food Centre, Médecins Sans Frontières, and more.

To date, across four cohorts, our Fellows have produced 103 blogs, 23 policy briefs, and 50 research reports. Fellows’ work is published on the SCSC website and other social media channels, and shared with our partners and wider network to inform policy, advocacy and community change.

2020 Fellowship Timeline

  • Mid February: Applications Open
    • Applications will be open for at least 2 weeks
  • Early March: Applications Close
  • Mid March: Fellow Candidate Interviews
  • Early April: Fellow Candidates Selected
  • Mid May: Start of 2020 Fellowship
  • Late August: End of 2020 Fellowship

What You Can Expect

Application Process

SCSC will release 10 different research projects to which applicants can apply in mid-February. Fellows create each research project with a partner in our movement. Applicants can indicate two project preferences in their application.

Applicants will then have 2 weeks to submit their application, which includes answering a few general and specific questions, and providing one reference contact. A shortlist of candidates will be called for interviews in mid March.

Successful candidates chosen as Fellows will have the opportunity to have an initial call with their partners before the Fellowship officially begins.


In May, the selected 2020 Fellows will get together for the first time to learn about the work of the SCSC and receive initial training on our theory of change as well as strategic writing and project management.

The 2019 Fellowship cohort at their orientation.

Research and Outreach

In June, Fellows will begin their primary research, which includes researching and compiling lists of relevant stakeholders to interview. Last year, Fellows collectively interviewed 104 people, ranging from policymakers to academics to community leaders. Fellows will also attend workshops to improve their research and outreach skills. For example, last year, Fellows participated in two workshops on sensitive interview techniques as well as how to transform research into policy advocacy in Canada.

Serisha Iyar, former Refugee Rights Policy Intern at Citizens for Public Justice, delivering a workshop on Canadian policy advocacy.

Community Engagement and Media Recognition

With a solid grounding in their research topics, Fellows will begin work on policy briefs and policy recommendations on their area of focus, starting in July.

Fellows will also be tasked with creating a community engagement initiative (CEI)— to creatively engage with the community they are researching.

The 2019 Fellows came up with unique ideas that took into account the appropriate audience, length, format and inputs for engagement. 

Yolanda Sankobe, whose research focused on supporting the psychosocial well-being of youth through art therapy, organized a day of community arts with youth in her local community. Yolanda, along with other youth facilitators, offered 6 workshops in drama, dance, fine arts, conceptual photography, zines, and poetry.

The goal was to impart skills in artistic expression to help youth cope with everyday struggles and to foster connectedness among the youth. Over 30 youth participated throughout the day.

Noah Powers wrote and produced a 4-episode podcast on the topic of queer spaces in North America. He identified that podcasts were a popular and accessible format to inform the younger LGBTQ community and greater society about issues facing the preservation and evolution of queer spaces. To date, his podcast has over 800 hits across all platforms (SoundCloud and Spotify).

Noah Powers recording his podcast, Queer Here, Queer There.

Lavanya Virmani and Claire Suh collaborated on their CEI, delivering an interdisciplinary workshop on the urban heat island effect in Montreal. Their workshop drew 40 members of the Montreal community, who came together on a Saturday morning to hear presentations from medical professionals and urban researchers on the dangers of inaction on climate change and health. The discussions from the workshop informed their policy brief.

The Urban Heat Island Workshop in Montreal.

Our Fellows’ CEIs have garnered media coverage. The CBC wrote one article highlighting Noah’s research on queer spaces and another article featuring Priya Nair’s oral history series “What We Leave Behind.” 

Knowledge Exchange

At the end of August, the Fellows will all gather together for a final time to present the cumulative findings and recommendations from their research projects. You can review the final research reports from the 2019 Fellows here

The engagement doesn’t stop once Fellows have completed their work over the summer. SCSC continues to stay in touch and involve Fellows in other SCSC initiatives, in Canada and around the world. Fellows become part of an alumni network that continues to advance belonging and social connectedness. Further, Fellow alumni are encouraged to become mentors and peer-reviewers for the next cohort.

Apply to be a Fellow!

If the Fellowship aligns with your interests and professional goals, we encourage you to apply to the 2021 cohort! Applications are open until March 7, 2021.

We look forward to receiving your applications!