Historical dialogue and accountability is a growing field of advocacy and scholarship that encompasses the efforts of conflict, post-conflict, and post-dictatorial societies to come to terms with their pasts. Historical dialogue seeks to analyze past violence; to acknowledge the victims of human rights abuses; to challenge and deconstruct national, religious, or ethnic memories of heroism and victimhood; the field also attempts to foster shared work between two or more sides of a conflict; to identify and monitor how history is misused to divide societies; to enhance public discussion about the past.
AHDA organizes a number of trips and site visits around New York throughout the course of the program.
The fellowship program gives participants the opportunity to engage in training, networking, project work, and academic study at Columbia University in New York City. During the Fellowship participants will also design a project that addresses a long standing sectarian conflict, history of repression or past gross human rights violations in their society, country or region.
While historical dialogue is a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary field, it places special emphasis on reaching new generations and considering how the meaning of the past changes with the passage of time; it seeks to give individuals the tools to deconstruct historical narratives for themselves, to challenge past myths, and to consider the evolution of specific narratives about the past and how they continue to influence political, social and cultural structures. In so doing, historical dialogue does not necessarily seek consensus as a goal, but rather an understanding and empathy between stakeholders of multiple and/or conflicting narratives. In other words, it seeks to make visible the causes and consequences of disputed histories; to acknowledge victims; and to involve experts from a wide-range of areas, from academics to officials, from activists to victims and affected communities in an effort to achieve new avenues for moving a society away from conflict.
The comprehensive fellowship program provides fellows with the opportunity to hone practical skills in fundraising, advocacy and leadership; to develop a deeper understanding of and engagement with the past; and to foster mutually beneficial relationships with their peers and with international and non-profit organizations in New York.
The program consists of
- seminars that examine historical dialogue across the disciplines, covering theoretical and practical applications in different geographical and thematic contexts;
- workshops that help fellows identify primary challenges to implementing historical dialogue projects, and that explore a variety of strategies for addressing them, from the proposal stage to the implementation stage;
- visits to sites of memory in and around New York City;
- relevant networking opportunities and speaking engagements.
- Fellows will design individual projects that they will implement upon their return home.
- Fellows will live with other students, and have access to a wide range of social and cultural opportunities in New York.
- Fellows will have access to extensive resources and faculty members at Columbia University.
Fellows at a workshop led by Liz Sevcenko.
2012 fellow Sandra Orlovic at the Museum of Tolerance with museum guide, Dr. Andy Gold.
2012 fellow Murat Celikkan presents his project at the AHDA conference in December 2012.
Fellows and others gather at I-House
Fellows attend a series of 2-hour sessions with scholars and other experts in historical dialogue, exploring major theoretical issues and on-the-ground case studies. These seminars include discussions on the role of history, the goals of historical dialogue, historical dialogue in different thematic and geographical contexts. Fellows will develop clear concepts of historical dialogue and accountability on the basis of practical experiences and scholarly insights explored in these sessions. Continuing and active participation in the seminars, including weekly reading assignments and several short writing assignments is a requirement of the program.
Seminars are supplemented by capacity building trainings in skills important to the work of historical dialogue, and important to implementing a successful project. These workshops include sessions on fundraising, advocacy tools, new media, project development. The goal of these workshops is to build capacity in a wide range of skills required for historical dialogue, from facilitation to fundraising.
Site Visits, Networking and Collaborative Relationships
Fellows have the opportunity to meet with a range of international institutions, human rights organizations, foundations and practitioners in the field who are based in New York City, to observe their practices, learn more about their strategies, and to meet their leadership and staff. There are also visits to relevant sites of memory in New York City, and to learn more about their programs, outreach and organizational approach. These opportunities enable fellows to build networks with historical dialogue leaders, and connect with individuals and organizations relevant to their work.
During the fellowship participants are expected to design a project that addresses some aspect of a history of gross human rights violations in their society, country and/or region. Projects can take a range of forms (films, publications, curricula, reports, meetings/proceedings), with the aim of implementing them when fellows return to their home countries. By the end of the semester, each fellow is required to write a detailed proposal for a project in historical dialogue with the intention of implementing the project at the conclusion of the fellowship, upon return to their home countries. To this end, each fellow will deliver a 20-minute presentation of their project to a panel of fellowship reviewers, for critique and feedback. Each fellow will also deliver a 20-minute public presentation on their approach to historical dialogue, their context, and their proposed project, drawing on the material above. Presentations will be delivered either at the end-of-semester international conference, or through brown-bag lunches during the semester.
The Project can be something that’s entirely new and in the planning phase; that is nearing completion; or that has existed for some time but is in need of revision. The Project should be something the Fellow and its supporting organization has the capacity to implement within one year of the Fellowship. Fellows will work on designing and planning the Project during their Fellowship with the input of other Fellows and Fellowship staff and consultants, leaving the Fellowship with a detailed plan and funding proposal. The Project can be (but are not limited to) an advocacy project; a plan for a memorial; a dialogue program bringing together diverse stakeholders; a school program; an oral history project; or other types of experiences and processes for promoting historical dialogue. Fellows will present progress on their Project in the weekly Fellowship seminar. Fellows are encouraged to reach out to Columbia University’s academic community to support their Project work.
Student Life in New York City
AHDA integrates Fellows into various aspects of student life. Fellows reside at the International House with international and US students and participate in a range of social learning and cultural activities organized by International House and Columbia University. The four month program gives fellows time and space to reflect on their work and share their experiences and insights with one another. AHDA also facilitates relationship-building among alumni of the program.
“AHDA was a very positive experience. I was able to build partnerships with other fellows on both a professional and personal level. The seminars and workshops included a mix of practical and theoretical applications which were incredibly valuable. As a result of the program, I have become more aware of the importance of the work of historical dialogue; the curriculum has broadened my knowledge and improved my own practices in terms of designing projects that grapple with reconciliation, memory, oral history, as well as improving, both in breadth and depth, my skills in dealing with the past.”
— Khet Long, 2012 AHDA fellow
Fellows audit 1-2 courses at the university, relevant to their particular context or approach to historical dialogue. They can attend classes at the School of International and Public Affairs, the Law School, The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Social Work, Teachers College and Barnard College.
Learn more about our 2012 fellows.
2013 Fellowship for Historical Dialogue and Accountability
Applications are being accepted for the fall semester of 2013 (August 28, 2013 – December 14, 2013) fellowship program. The program is part of the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability (AHDA). AHDA offers fully funded fellowships which will cover travel, visa, and accommodation costs as well as a modest stipend to cover day to day living expenses during the program. In exceptional cases, self-funded candidates will be considered. We encourage interested parties from around the world and from a wide range of professional sectors—including, but not limited to, human rights practitioners, journalists, academics, educators, filmmakers, artists—to apply. Special funding is available for fellow(s) who address religious conflict. For fellowship guidelines and application form, please go to hrcolumbia.org/ahda/fellowship.
Deadline: March 1, 2013
If you have any questions with regard to the program, selection criteria and your application please contact