Postdoctoral Fellowships

Frederick Douglass Institute Fellowship Program

2021–2022 Theme: Anti-Blackness

The Frederick Douglass Institute (FDI) at the University of Rochester invites applications for two residential postdoctoral fellowships for 2021–22 to help support scholars who advance the institute’s mission and this year’s theme of anti-Blackness.

The postdoctoral fellowships are awarded to scholars who hold a PhD in a field that contributes to Black studies. Applicants must have their PhD in hand before the fellowship begins in September. The position carries a stipend of $48,750 for one year, with the possibility of one year of renewal, and a $3,000 fund for research-related activities during the year.

Scope for 2021–22 Fellowship Period

This summer and fall, the city of Rochester has been reeling from the killing of Daniel Prude at the hands of police officers. Daniel Prude was fatally injured in March 2020—at the onset of a citywide COVID-19 lockdown—when officers responded to a mental health call with extreme acts of citizen detainment.

City residents would not learn of the events surrounding Mr. Prude’s death until early September— after local Black Lives Matter organizers, working with Mr. Prude’s family, obtained access to the police camera footage, despite stalling from people in power, including the police chief and mayor. The protesters who gathered in summer 2020—like others nationwide in the wake of state-sanctioned violence that ended the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, named and unnamed—were met with militarized policing (tear gas, pepper balls, noise cannons).

Rochester and cities across the nation continue to grapple with what justice, policing, democracy, and progress should look like for Daniel Prude’s family and so many others who suffer under hyper-segregation and perpetual acts of anti-Black violence. Meanwhile, on the University of Rochester campus, our faculty, staff, and students wrestle with the role of the University in addressing these questions—both in terms of community engagement and research. 

Recognizing the importance and need for scholarly work and community-engagement that addresses the broad reach of anti-Blackness, for the 2020–21 cycle of postdoctoral applications, FDI is ONLY inviting scholars who work within this specific field.

Scholars in the humanities and social sciences who take seriously questions of anti-Blackness (including, but not limited to schools, policing, prisons, neighborhoods, everyday life, literature, or music) are strongly encouraged to apply.

Responsibilities and Expectations

Fellows will participate in the intellectual life of the institute, pursue their own scholarship, and teach one course in their area of specialization. Fellows will have the opportunity to present their work at the University’s Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, the Humanities Center, and the FDI Work-in-Progress Seminar Series.

All fellows receive office space in the institute, full access to the University’s facilities, and opportunities to interact and collaborate with scholars relevant to their projects within the University. Fellows must be in full-time residence during the tenure of their awards and they are required to be engaged in scholarly activity on a full-time basis. Fellows are expected to be available for consultation with students and colleagues, make at least one formal presentation based upon their research, and contribute generally to the intellectual life of the institute.


Review of applications begins on December 16, 2020. The fellowship awards will be announced in early March.

How to Apply

Application materials should be submitted online* by December 15, 2020.

*Important note: If you do not already have an account, you will need to create an account, and then re-click on link above in order to access the application.   

As part of your application, please include the following:

  • Cover letter that describes your:
    • Research and how it relates to the yearly theme, and a specific goal for the fellowship year
    • Teaching experience and a brief description of a proposed course you would offer (100- or 200-level undergraduate elective in African and African American Studies)
  • Writing sample related to the theme of anti-Blackness
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation (submitted via the online system or emailed to that comment upon the value and feasibility of the work proposed


For more information about our fellowships, email us at