The Breakthrough Institute Generation Fellowship 2021: Apply by Feb 12

The Breakthrough Institute has opened applications for the Generation Fellowship 2021 to foster the development of a new generation of thinkers and writers capable of finding pragmatic new solutions to today’s greatest challenges in the areas of energy, economy, and environment.

generation fellowship

About the Institute and the Initiative

The Breakthrough Institute is an environmental research center located in Oakland, California. Founded in 2003 by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, Breakthrough Institute has policy programs in energy and climate, economic growth and innovation, conservation and development.

This Generation Fellowship is an initiative of the Breakthrough Institute that started in 2008, with an aim to generate and foster the new ideas and their development in the new generation of thinkers and writers who believe in the pragmatic solutions to the great and the greatest challenges we face today in the areas of energy, economy, and environment.

Wait! Are you law students and law professionals thinking it’s not for you? Well, studying law doesn’t make you any less creative and the law sure doesn’t leave any area untouched. So, still thinking?

The Generation Fellowship

Every summer from June to August, Generation offers a small number of paid ($600 per week), highly competitive, ten-week fellowships to recent college graduates and postgraduates from around the world. Additional travel and housing assistance stipends are available upon acceptance based on an as-needed basis.

Structural Design of the Fellowship

  • The first two weeks of the summer: Breakthrough Bootcamp, an intellectual crash course involving intensive reading, writing, and an expert lecture series aimed at providing a grounding in the broad-spectrum thinking that informs Breakthrough’s policy agenda.
  • Topics covered include modernization theory, social psychology, aspirational politics and philosophy, economics and innovation policy, and technology policy.
  • For the remainder of the fellowship: The fellows work in small teams divided between three program areas:
    • Energy,
    • Cities, or
    • Food & Farming.
  • Supervised by policy staff, fellows produce policy white papers*, reports, and memos. Previous projects have been featured in The New York Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Law and Policy Journal, among others, as well as in Congressional testimony.
  • In addition to research and analysis, fellows attend the Breakthrough Dialogue: An opportunity to interact with the leading thinkers, writers, and scholars in the study of society and the environment, as well as attend talks, debates, and working groups within Breakthrough’s different program areas.

* Policy White Papers: Policy papers written in the form of White Papers that offer authoritative perspective on or solutions to a problem. In commercial use, white papers are often used as a marketing or sales tool where the product is pitched as the “solution” to a perceived need within a particular market.

Now, Who can Apply?

Final-year undergraduates, college graduates, and postgraduates are eligible to apply for the fellowship.

Fellowships are open to applicants from any country.

How to Apply?

You can apply through the online application form.

You will need to provide your basic information, a cover letter, resume or CV, references, and three writing samples (Don’t sweat, you’ll know what they are!).

All uploaded documents must be in PDF format. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Application Deadline

The application deadline is February 12, 2021, 11:59 pm, Pacific Time (1:29 pm 13th February, Indian Standard Time)

When Will You Hear Back?

Within two to four weeks after the application deadline. There are two rounds of phone interviews before final decisions are made.

When and Where?

Breakthrough normally hosts the Generation Fellowship in their offices in Oakland. However, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and for the safety of fellows, the 2020 fellowship was held remotely.

However, (thanks to the Pandemic), the hope is to host the Breakthrough Generation Fellowship in person again in 2021, but it will be adjusted according to the latest public health guidelines.

Now, The Details For The Application

Cover Letter

  • Please indicate at the top of your cover letter which of the three research areas you wish to be considered for: Energy, Cities, or Food & Farming.
  • An excellent cover letter will display a thorough understanding of Breakthrough’s work and ideas and will discuss at least one of their publications:
    • An Ecomodernist Manifesto, or
    • Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus’s book, Break Through.

Please limit your cover letter to a maximum of one-page.


Please limit your resume or CV to two pages maximum.

Three Writing Samples

  1. A 500-1000 word argumentative essay or op-ed (does not have to be published) on a subject of your choice that demonstrates an ability to make a focused argument in a clear, convincing, and accessible way.This writing sample is evaluated for evidence of critical thinking and general writing skills. For examples of opinion pieces written by Breakthrough staff, see here, here, and here.
  2. A research paper, preferably between 15-20 pages. This does not need to have been published but should demonstrate an ability to research and analyze a subject in more depth.It is recommended, but not required, that the topic of the research paper be relevant to the program area you are applying to.
  3. An additional writing sample of your choosing: This can be an opinion piece, a research paper, a policy memo, or any other piece of writing that complements the first two samples.


Please submit a minimum of three professional references with contact information.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are welcome but not required. Recommendations will only be accepted if the author of the letter, not the applicant, sends the letter directly to Breakthrough.

Letters should be attached to your application or sent separately to fellowships[at] with the subject “[Last Name] Generation Application References

Contact Information

Please email fellowships[at]

Need to see the official information by the Institute? Click here.

Click here to apply for the Generation Fellowship.

I know you’re looking for more such exciting Fellowships and Scholarships we have brought to you. Here they are!

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