DCI Fellowships

The Dorothy Cotton Institute’s Fellowship Program will support the efforts of human rights activists in their communities, close the gap between their work and scholarly research, and establish a think tank to develop effective strategies, identify projects and areas of research for DCI fellows, and contribute to a growing knowledge base.


The DCI’s Fellowship Program builds on the following opportunities:

  1. Increasing the success of social justice and human rights organizing efforts by reducing the isolation between those engaged in these struggles around the country and around the planet.
  2. Closing the well-documented gap between human rights education and research on one hand, and the direct practice and action taken on the ground in communities here and around the world.
  3. Organizing and widely disseminating analyses, for use at the grass roots level, of how the Citizenship Education Program (CEP) provided the undergirding organizing mechanism for the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The lessons of this effort are in danger of being lost before they can be fully documented and made available to current and future civil and human rights activists and educators. The lessons of the CEP are an important tool that should be made available for grass roots education, mobilization and leadership development.
  4. Increasing recognition of the frequent failure at all levels of government, in the United States to protect human rights because human rights are defined so narrowly in this country and promoting a policy framework for educating people about their rights, and translating human rights as articulated by the UN human rights conventions into law, at all levels of government.
  5. Increasing the number of models and frameworks in use that actually support inclusive, democratic practices in practice both in governance and at the level of both public and private organizations so that it becomes possible for people to fully exercise their cultural, political and economic rights.


Key offerings:

  • Fellows
  • Interns
  • Think and Do Tank



Identifying and providing support and networking opportunities to practitioners and scholars working in the area of civil and human rights is the core function of the DCI fellowship program.

Fellows may be:

  • Practitioners involved in community education, community organizing, leadership development, youth development or civic engagement in their local communities or at a broader, regional, national or international level.
  • Individuals pursuing answers to particular research questions in the area of human rights. Examples might be to identify the cultural conditions that made reconciliation in Rwanda possible, to determine how to measure the effectiveness of using the internet to organize movements, how to calculate the social cost of violent versus non-violent approaches to managing inter-cultural conflict, or which forms of human rights education are most likely to lead to changes in attitude and behavior.
  • Artists and performing artists whose work inspires personal transformation of individuals and groups or educates about human rights.
  • Experts in their fields who are advocating and implementing strategic approaches to particularly vexing human rights issues such as incarceration and capital punishment practices in the United States, or codifying and protecting the full human rights of indigenous people throughout the world.
  • Experts in their fields who provide leadership in addressing critical policy questions for both governments and organizations, and to formulate and design strategic approaches to address particular human rights problems, for example:

-How to assess where a nation or organization is on the continuum of respect and protection of human rights.

-Which public education practices are most likely to produce a citizenry that understands human rights and is
able to meet the responsibilities of exercising their rights and protecting the rights of others.

The fellowship program provides a combination of financial, programmatic, administrative and/or intellectual support to these fellows through stipends, grants, scholarships, mentoring, training, seminars and access to its network of practitioners, artists, performing artist and scholars. Their work will then be included in ongoing participatory research to assess the effectiveness and reliability of particular organizing tools, methods and strategies.


The DCI identifies interns and placement opportunities for interns.

Interns have the opportunity for short-term employment or volunteer work in organizations doing human rights education and/or advocacy work.


Think and Do Tank:

The DCI through its Website, Annual Gathering and the activity of its fellows will provide both a virtual and actual think and do tank to:

  • advance human rights education,
  • develop practical strategies for non-violent civic engagement
  • articulate policy frameworks for governments and organizations
  • identify and disseminate best practices for communities, organizations and community leaders and activists


Populations Served:

  • Groups of people who are struggling to exercise their civil and human rights or stop violations of their rights.
  • Individuals who are interested in learning how to apply the leadership tools and practices that can help these groups succeed.
  • Individuals who are interested in learning how to organize what is learned into best practices and policy frameworks.
  • Organizations and governmental units seeking advice on how to create the policy and procedural frameworks that promote the full exercise of human rights.


Links to Other Program Components:

The fellowship program will be fully integrated into the other program areas in that Fellows will be both the beneficiaries of and the authors of much of what is written and produced in the DCI’s Education and Training work. Fellows will be conferees and presenters at the Annual Gathering. Some of them will be the leaders of youth development programs. Some of the activities fellows participate in will take place in the Education and Visitors’ Center and some of their work will be among the exhibits for public display. For fellows engaged in the performing arts, some of their work will be presented to the public at the Education and Visitors’ Center. Some of their work will also be available on the website.


Anticipated impact and outcomes:

  • A stronger link between research and practice.
  • An organized body of literature on practical strategies for achieving human rights.
  • A growing leadership capacity for human rights struggles at all levels.
  • A stronger network and community of human rights leaders and educators.
  • More successful human rights efforts at the grassroots level.A more sustained human rights movement.


Please contact us for more information about any of these opportunities.