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OSUN Launches Fellowship Program for Afghan Scholars and Professionals in US, UK, and Canada
From opensocietyuniversitynetwork.org
17-11-2022 - The OSUN Threatened Scholars Integration Initiative (TSI) has launched the Afghan Challenge Fund (ACF), a fellowship program designed to place newly arrived scholars and civil society professionals from Afghanistan in positions that harness their talents and train them so they can make positive contributions to their host nations and to a future democratic and pluralistic Afghanistan.

Supported by a $2 million grant from the Open Society Foundations, the ACF seeks to address the precarious conditions often confronting Afghans who have arrived in the West since the Taliban seized power in August 2021, many of whom can only find employment that does not correspond to their skills and expertise. The ACF offers incentives to universities and NGOs in the US, Canada, and the UK to hire newly arrived Afghans and put them on a path to positions that will benefit them, their communities, and channel support to Afghan civil society. 

“While the world’s attention has understandably shifted to the war in Ukraine, we don’t want to lose sight of Afghanistan,” said Thomas Keenan, co-director of TSI and director of the Human Rights Program at Bard College, and OSUN institutional partner. “Since last fall, thousands of brilliant scholars, analysts, advocates, and activists have fled Afghanistan for safe havens elsewhere, and we have not supported them enough as they seek to apply their talents to organizations here or to the future of their country. This new initiative seeks to address this by supporting these outstanding individuals through employment that utilizes their skills and experience and creates opportunities for new visions of a future Afghanistan to emerge.”

The ACF initiative will fund fellowships for scholars in universities, think tanks, and research institutions, and for civil society professionals working in media and journalism, arts and culture, public policy, international development, and women’s and human rights.  Applications must be submitted by host institutions in partnership with the proposed fellow. ACF will partner with host institutions to pay up to half of fellows’ first-year salaries. The goal is to incentivize professional development and longer-term contracts for fellows. 

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