The Joan Konner Program in the Journalism of Ideas | Columbia Journalism School

The Joan Konner Program in the Journalism of Ideas

About the Fellowship

Joan Konner black and white portrait

Joan Konner was a groundbreaking broadcast news producer, documentarian, television executive and author who served as Dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism from 1988 to 1997. As Dean, Konner brought many innovations to the School, establishing both the part-time Master’s of Science and Ph.D. programs, modernizing the curriculum and introducing into it the Journalism of Ideas, as she defined it: works that explore the intellectual foundations and significant questions arising from the world of ideas, on any subject, including politics, economics, history, culture, science, law and values.

Established through a bequest from her estate and with generous support from the M & T Weiner Foundation, the Joan Konner Program in the Journalism of Ideas will honor dean Konner’s legacy by providing an annual fellowship and faculty mentorship to support the completion of reporting or academic research projects that depart from traditional journalism beats to focus on ideas and beliefs.

Current Fellow

Agostini Petroni in Columbia graduation gown

Agostino Petroni, '20 M.A. Politics

About his project: "I will research for human stories to explore what drives humans to fast or not to fast, to shed light on the conflicting cultural, political, and scientific arguments surrounding our food habits. During the fellowship, I will dive deep into the concept of fasting and its role in human life, and I will explore the larger cultural forces at work behind it. I will talk to theologists and historians to discover how different religions and cultures have adopted fasting thought history. I will research why and how some communities across the world still fast today. I will dive into the scientific research behind fasting, and I will interview new practitioners and those who have fasted throughout their lives. By talking about fasting I want to open a small window into our society."

Past Fellow

Vittoria Traverso in olive jacket against large red double doors

2020: Vittoria Traverso, ‘17 M.A. Politics

About her project: “I will seek to ‘reframe plants’ to highlight their fundamental role for human life. I will speak with philosophers, historians and scientists to understand the ways in which plants are interconnected to our daily life and to some of the most pressing global issues. I will explore how plants have been ‘framed’ across different belief systems and how that has affected the mainstream narrative about plants in the media.”

How to Apply

The Fellowship will award $10,000 in 2022 and is open to graduates of the Master's programs from the past six years (in 2022, Classes of 2017-22) and Ph.D. students who have completed the coursework portion of the degree program. Works must be intended for publication in a peer-reviewed academic, specialized or general interest outlet. Applicants are encouraged to apply for support of works on any platform.

Applications must include the following information on the application:

  • The applicant’s resume and three writing samples that reflect the type of work the applicant proposes to do 
  • A detailed description of the proposed project
  • A description of the intellectual foundations and/or significant questions arising from the world of ideas that they wish to explore
  • A budget, up to $10,000, for how the grant funds will be spent, such as travel expenses, living expenses, document acquisition, etc. The budget should also reflect other funding obtained or required for the project.
  • A letter of support from a news outlet or other qualifying publication interested in running the story. This does not have to be a promise to publish, but a media outlet should review the proposed work and state that they have interest in the idea before the application is submitted.

Applications are now open. APPLY NOW.

DEADLINE TO APPLY: 11:59 p.m. (EST), SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2022.

QUESTIONS? Email Jane Eisner, Director of Academic Affairs: [email protected]