About the Othering & Belonging Institute

The Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley is a research institute which conducts scholarship and designs activities with partners in order to affect policy, produce transformative change, and make a meaningful impact in advancing inclusion and building more fair and inclusive societies. 

The work of the Institute is guided by its work in “othering and belonging,” a clarifying framework that addresses the many expressions of prejudice against groups. The lens of othering and belonging has allowed for a better articulation of forces that generate marginality and reproduce or exacerbate inequality, and by identifying fundamental structures, systems, and institutions that inhibit or advance genuine and inclusive belonging. Not merely analytic, othering and belonging is designed to be operationalized and applied in order to inform policy, shift public discourse, strengthen our movements, and deliver a set of best practices for expanding our concern for all people and our living planet. 

Toward Belonging is a new partnership initiative in Europe that aims to connect work across geographies, sectors, and disciplines in order to mount an effective, sustainable challenge to what we see as some of the biggest threats to building fair and inclusive societies and advancing true belonging—rising authoritarianism, widening inequality, the effects of climate change, and politics based on exclusion and division. Toward Belonging partners believe that the lens of belonging is a powerful framework to help shape the story next 10 years, a story where we together create the future we want to inhabit, where we reject a politics based on "us vs. them," and where we work together to build a new "we."

Seeking Creative Fellow

The Institute’s approach to change incorporates a holistic set of strategies and approaches. The role and power of arts, culture, and creative ways of seeing and thinking are integral to our work in connecting work across sectors and elevating belonging. Deeply integrating ways of knowing, seeing, and being that hold great potential to expand our collective efforts towards justice and belonging. 

An essential aspect of this is to understand how systems, places, and structures impact lives. We believe that a creative who approaches the question of belonging from a design perspective will be an exciting interlocutor who can be part of a conversation that marries process and outcome.

To that end, the Toward Belonging program is seeking an inaugural Creative Fellow to explore and develop innovative ideas that use a design and systems approach to challenges which present barriers to belonging in Europe. We are looking for ideas that help further belonging by analyzing its challenges, displaying empathy and connection with all , and offering creative and achievable solutions. 

We believe that systems thinking and design thinking provide a helpful pathway to apply othering and belonging towards solving many of what appear to be intractable problems.  Systems thinking offers a holistic approach to analyze exclusionary societal dynamics by focusing on the way that a system’s constituent parts interrelate across domains, disciplines and borders. Design thinking is an iterative process that seeks design solutions by deepening one’s understanding of the problem through empathizing with the problem’s stakeholders, questioning assumptions and implications, and identifying creative strategies that might not be instantly apparent. 

The Institute aims to learn from the fellow’s process rather than merely their outcome, and collaboration and conversation between fellow and Toward Belonging are key parts of this fellowship.  

Terms of the Fellowship

The Toward Belonging Creative Fellowship is a one-year program targeting creatives who use a design, systems, or creative approach to social change as core elements of their practice. This is an opportunity to apply the fellow’s creative skills towards advancing the concept and application of belonging in Europe. 

We are looking for proposals which creatively address issues of belonging in the European context and should be in dialogue with the public. During their fellowship, the selected candidate will work on researching, designing, and implementing their proposed project. They will also have access to and be invited to share their work at the Institute’s public platforms and events, such as presenting at its conferences. The creative fellow can work from any location although their project must be focused on a specific European issue.

The 2021 Creative Fellow will receive a $15,000 honorarium.

Christine Wong Yap’s 100 Stories of Belonging in the Bay Area presents a good example of a one-year fellowship project. 

We are interested in projects that:

  • Address one or more contemporary belonging challenge(s) of relevance in Europe

  • Are designed to advance social change by demonstrating that which we share in common across communities, geographies, sectors, or other lines of perceived difference

  • Present a creative approach to analyzing, synthesizing and responding to the problem in question

  • Are conducted in dialogue with the Institute’s Othering & Belonging framework and iterative process with O&B staff 

  • Clearly identify audiences, stakeholders, and outcomes

  • Are grounded in inclusive and accessible design principles

  • Demonstrate a process that seeks transformative change

  • Result in compelling and high quality outcomes

  • Contain elements that can be completed within the timeframe of the fellowship and shared publicly

  • Clearly identify and propose inclusive ways to test a solution to advance belonging. 

We are not interested in: 

  • Individually-focused projects 

  • Research projects with analysis as their primary output

  • Creative projects lacking a clear audience or stakeholder engagement framework

What the Fellow will Receive:

  • A $15,000 honorarium 

  • A global and growing platform from the Othering & Belonging Institute and its partners in Toward Belonging for sharing the fellow’s work, through amplification through in the Institute’s online channels

  • Support from Institute staff throughout the process, including Toward Belonging cultural strategist Mina Girgis who will work collaboratively with the Creative Fellow and will facilitate connections between Institute staff, researchers, and partners 

  • A modest budget for materials reimbursement, if applicable to the project 

Eligibility requirements:

  • Open to all individual applicants. 

  • If you are a collective or NGO, you must submit one application. Multiple applications for one entity are not permitted.

  • This program is open to applicants residing anywhere in the world but the focus of the work must be within the European region

  • While all project communication will be in English, project can be in any language that fulfills the project’s purpose and needs 

The application requires you to submit the following:

  • A 500-word letter of intent that describes your proposed project and/or approach (please see above section on “We are interested in projects that…”)

  • A link to a website that showcases your project or a relevant body of work (please indicate the specific links or images you would like us to focus on). If no URL is available, you may submit a PDF which contains no more than 10 images or samples. Please submit combined as one pdf, or up to three minutes of video that shows your body of work.

  • A CV, or multiple CVs if applying as a collective

Submit all application materials via the following portal: Creative Fellow 2021


  • February 15, 2021: Applications are due by 11:59pm (GMT)

  • March 12, 2021: Short-listed candidates will receive interview invitations

  • March 2021: Selected Creative Fellow will be notified and announcement made public

  • February 2022: Fellow showcase and presentation   

The period of the fellowship is April 2021–2022.  

If you have any questions about the Creative Fellowship application process, please contact minagirgis@berkeley.edu.