The Assembly Fellowship is an intensive four-month fellowship for technologists, managers, policymakers, and other professionals with disinformation expertise. Fellows confront problems related to disinformation by creating collaborative, public interest focused provocations or prototypes that offer tangible ways to better understand, counter, and draw attention to disinformation campaigns.
ABOUT THE 2020 FELLOWSHIP
This year, Assembly takes up disinformation in the digital public sphere from a cybersecurity perspective, exploring the challenges and prospective upside of potential public and private sector responses to disinformation and related problems of foreign interference. Assembly: Disinformation draws on the Berkman Klein Center's long history of work on disinformation, media policy, intermediaries and platforms, cybersecurity, and other relevant areas; as well as our expertise developing new ideas across sectors, and then embodying them as institutions, protocols, and ideas. Assembly: Disinformation is organized around three tracks, including the Assembly Fellowship.
The Fellowship is designed for technologists, managers, policymakers, and other professionals with disinformation expertise who want to actively collaborate across disciplines and sectors to work in the public interest. Fellows confront problems related to disinformation by creating collaborative provocations or prototypes that offer tangible ways to better understand, counter, and draw attention to disinformation campaigns. It is intensive, deeply collaborative, and rewarding.
The Fellowship runs for ten weeks from late February to mid May 2020. Fellows are required to spend time in Cambridge at key moments, though it is primarily non-residential. We have found that Assembly Fellows who can devote more in-person time benefit from the experience.
The Assembly Fellowship was co-developed with the MIT Media Lab, starting in 2017; this year, it is hosted by the Berkman Klein Center.
The 2020 Assembly Fellowship gathers a competitively-selected cohort of individuals who work primarily in the private sector, as well as in government, non-profits, and academia, to explore emerging problems related to disinformation from a cybersecurity perspective. To allow each fellow to fully engage in their project, each member of the cohort participates as an individual, not a representative of their organization. The fellows’ bios include institutional affiliations for identification purposes only.
TEAM BUILDING & IDEATION
The Fellowship kicks off with two weeks of intensive, full-time, in-person sessions. To start, the cohort devotes time to team building activities, skill sharing sessions, and ideation exercises, designed and facilitated by our staff. During the ideation process, the cohort explores scoped problem spaces and potential project ideas. During these two weeks, Assembly Fellows settle on project ideas to pursue with their team during the duration of the Fellowship.
During the first two weeks, the cohort participates in a series of seminars and discussions, led by Professor Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Klein Center. The sessions will cover foundational technical, social, and legal material in the disinformation space. In addition to Professor Zittrain, we bring in expert speakers throughout the duration of the Fellowship.
The core of the Fellowship is the project development period. During this portion, the cohort divides into project teams and executes public interest project ideas developed during the ideation process. Teams are supported by Assembly staff and an expert Advisory Board, which will include Assembly: Disinformation experts, Harvard professors, and tech industry professionals. The Advisory Board meets regularly with Assembly project teams throughout the development period. At the end of the development period, the Assembly project teams present their outputs to the Assembly: Disinformation and Berkman Klein Center communities.
Throughout the program, Assembly staff provide light project management, including facilitated team-building, a guided ideation process, and regular group check-ins. However, Fellows and teams create and develop their project, and take the lead in setting and fulfilling goals.
The Assembly Fellowship is part of the broader Assembly: Disinformation program, based at the Berkman Klein Center. Assembly Fellows benefit from connecting with experts in the Assembly Forum and students in Assembly Student Fellowship, as well as Berkman Klein Center Fellows and the broader Berkman Klein Center community.
Applications for the 2020 program have closed.
WHAT OUR ALUMNI SAY
"The Assembly Fellowship changed my life.
"I never could’ve made so much progress so quickly without Assembly. My learning here helped me spur new initiatives within my organization.