American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowships & Grants

An Introduction to Research and Study Opportunities

The American-Scandinavian Foundation (ASF) is a nonprofit organization that works to engage, educate, and build partnerships between Americans and the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Founded in 1928, the ASF promotes cultural understanding and collaboration through a variety of cultural and educational exchange programs. One of their major initiatives involves providing merit-based grants, fellowships, and scholarships to support research, professional development, and study experiences.

The ASF fellowships aim to foster relationships between the United States and Nordic countries through various avenues of intercultural exchange. Their funding supports projects that engage innovative approaches to transatlantic issues, encourage new generations of leaders, and bring Nordic culture and society to broader American audiences. Whether you are a student, researcher, or professional looking to conduct a project related to the Nordic region, the ASF has options to fit diverse interests and career stages. By learning about each fellowship category in this post, you can determine which opportunities might be the best strategic investment to advance your goals and vision.

A Reputable Organization with a Long History of Impact

As the leading nonprofit dedicated to Nordic-American affairs, the ASF has a proven track record of using cultural diplomacy to generate meaningful connections across borders. Over the past nine decades, they have supported thousands of fellowships, scholarships, teaching positions, conferences, seminars, artistic residencies, and more. Notable past grantees and fellows include writers Toni Morrison and Arthur Miller, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and Disney CEO Bob Iger.

The ASF has offices in New York City and Stockholm to oversee their robust programming. Funding comes from both public and private sources, including Nordic government partners, foundations, individual donors, and corporate sponsors. With an annual budget of approximately $5 million, a talented staff, and valuable networks on both sides of the Atlantic, the ASF is well-equipped to administer impactful grants and facilitate long-term relationships between award recipients and their affiliates. Applying for one of their fellowships is an investment not only in your own professional development, but also in the SAF’s important mission of transatlantic understanding.

Overview of Fellowship Categories

The ASF offers a variety of fellowship and grant opportunities to support research, study, teaching, and professional projects related to the Nordic countries. These programs can be categorized into the following main groups based on eligibility level and intended outcomes:

Research Fellowships

Intended for postdoctoral scholars and academics, research fellowships provide funding for independent research projects in the humanities or social sciences that engage with Nordic topics. Stipend amounts range from $4,000 to $30,000 depending on the fellowship, with the majority offering $5,000 to $10,000. Terms are usually 2-12 months and can be spent conducting fieldwork in either the U.S. or a Nordic country.

Teaching Fellowships

Designed for U.S.-based faculty, teaching fellowships support the integration of Nordic studies into existing university curriculums. Fellows receive a stipend of $5,000 to develop and teach a new course on a Nordic-related theme during an academic term. The goal is to strengthen Nordic content and perspectives within American higher education.

Translation Fellowships

Providing $5,000 each, translation fellowships fund projects that involve translating Nordic literary or scholarly works into English to increase their accessibility to American audiences. Both published and unpublished works are eligible. Fellows work with advisors during the fellowship period.

Professional Fellowships

Open to mid-career professionals in fields like journalism, business, law, healthcare and more, professional fellowships offer $5,000 to $10,000 for 3-6 month projects focusing on innovation or collaboration between the U.S. and Nordic countries. Activities may involve fact-finding, pilot programs, or staff exchanges between organizations.

Student Fellowships

Intended for undergraduate and graduate students, student fellowships support independent research, language study, or internship experiences directly related to the Nordic region. Awards range from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on the program. Study, research, or internships can take place in either the U.S. or Nordic countries.

Special Initiative Grants

In addition to the recurring fellowship categories, the ASF occasionally launches special grants focusing on timely themes or underserved areas of study. These have included grants for Indigenous peoples, Arctic issues, entrepreneurship, and more. Award amounts and terms vary depending on the initiative.

By exploring each category in-depth on the ASF website, applicants can determine which best aligns with their experience level, career stage, project goals, timelines, and budget needs to yield the most meaningful outcomes. While all fellowship categories value strong proposals, the selection committees seek to fund projects promising the greatest impact and alignment with the ASF’s mission.

Eligibility Requirements for the American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowships

To be considered for any of the ASF fellowships or grants, there are several standard eligibility requirements that all applicants must meet:

  • Citizenship: Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Citizens of Nordic countries are ineligible except in special circumstances specified by certain programs.
  • Academic qualifications: Minimum requirements include a Bachelor’s degree, but many fellowships prefer candidates with Master’s or Doctoral degrees depending on the level of independent work and research involved.
  • Project relevance: The proposed project, such as research, teaching, translation, or professional work, must have a clear significance or contribution related to Nordic studies, societies, cultures, or affairs between the Nordic region and the United States.
  • Institutional affiliation: Applicants must be affiliated with an academic institution, non-profit organization, or professional body to complete fellowship activities and outcomes such as research, teaching, or collaboration.
  • Language skills: While not always required, competence in a Nordic language is preferred or necessary for certain fellowships depending on the scope of work in Nordic sources or engagement with local communities.
  • Deadline adherence: All application materials must be fully completed and submitted by the relevant deadline stated on the ASF website and in the individual guidelines. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

These foundational criteria ensure the ASF selects individuals well-positioned to capitalize on fellowship opportunities and advance new understandings between the U.S. and Nordics in mutually beneficial ways. Meeting the eligibility standards is the first step toward consideration, but strong proposals are also evaluated based on their academic or professional merit as well as alignment with the ASF’s mission.

The Application Process

Applying for an ASF fellowship requires careful attention to details and requirements at each stage:

  1. Review the guidelines: Start by thoroughly reading all eligibility criteria and instructions specific to the desired fellowship category on the ASF website. Note application components, submission deadlines, and expected outcomes.
  2. Prepare application materials: These generally include a proposal, budget, CV/resume, references, and language evaluations if applicable. Take time to craft thoughtful, compelling narratives demonstrating merit and impact potential.
  3. Follow formatting instructions: Use the specified font sizes, margins, page limits, and templates provided. Incomplete or incorrectly formatted applications may be disqualified.
  4. Request references and translations: Contact references and evaluators early as they will need time to complete forms or documents. Reference letters must be submitted directly by the referees.
  5. Submit an application online: Use the online submission portal on the ASF website to combine all required files into a single application package. Check for confirmation of receipt from the system.
  6. Selection notification: Fellowships are highly competitive. The ASF will notify all applicants whether their proposals were selected by about 5-6 months after the deadlines.
  7. Accept or decline award: Recipients must confirm acceptance and coordinate logistics such as dates, residence, visa requirements and reporting deadlines with the ASF. Fellowships not taken up are offered to alternate candidates.

Paying close attention to these steps gives applicants the best opportunity to present complete, polished applications, effectively advocating for compelling projects deserving of ASF’s investment. With preparation and adherence to requirements, qualified individuals stand an excellent chance at funding to advance their personal and professional goals.

Deadlines and Funding Timelines

Most ASF fellowships and grants operate on an annual award cycle with specific deadline dates for receiving full applications:

  • Research & Translation Fellowships: October 15
  • Teaching Fellowships: November 15
  • Professional & Student Fellowships: January 15
  • Special Initiatives: Vary annually

Selection committees meet in late winter/early spring to review proposals, conduct interviews if needed, and determine award recipients. Notification of results is generally sent out by late April or May. Successful applicants then have until early June to accept or decline the funding.

Fellowship activities generally run on the following schedules:

  • Research Fellowships: 6-12 months between September-August
  • Teaching Fellowships: Academic semester or year-long course
  • Translation Fellowships: 6-12 months
  • Professional Fellowships: 3-6 months
  • Student Fellowships: Summer, semester or academic year depending on the program

Fellows are expected to begin their projects soon after acceptance notifications. ASF requires scholars to submit progress reports, final work products, or presentations upon completion as deliverables. Maintaining contact with ASF staff and participating in alumni engagement opportunities helps fellows maximize their experience and the fellowship’s long-term impact. Overall, the annual award cycle, activity timelines, and reporting structure provide orderly coordination of fellowship administration.

Project Outcomes and Benefits

While financial support is undoubtedly advantageous, ASF fellowships aim to yield far-reaching outcomes beyond the funding period itself:

  • Independent scholarship: Supporting advanced research, publications, teaching, or creative work that expands disciplinary or societal knowledge.
  • Career advancement: Providing professional development, leadership experience, and networking valuable for career mobility and achievement of long-term goals.
  • Dialogue and understanding: Facilitating exchange of perspectives that foster mutual understanding between Nordic and American audiences long into the future.
  • lasting partnerships: Encouraging relationship-building between fellowship alumni and ASF to maintain involvement, mentorship, and collaborative opportunities well after projects conclude.
  • Acknowledgment: Highlighting fellows and their achievements through ASF communications helps raise public awareness of Nordic-American issues and ongoing engagement between the regions.

For aspiring academics and professionals, an ASF award carries prestige as an external validation of excellent potential and meaningful intent to serve the larger ASF mission. By design, fellowships yield dividends for both recipients and the communities they continue influencing years later through the impacts of work begun during funding support. The experience of an ASF fellowship proves invaluable from both career and personal development standpoints.

Application Review & Selection Criteria

ASF fellowship committees consider the following weighted elements when scoring applications:

  • Merit of the proposal: How compelling, innovative, and impactful is the proposed scholarly work, teaching, translation, project, or activity aims to be? High-quality proposals advancing the field will receive consideration.
  • Relevance to mission: Does the idea clearly align with and advance ASF’s mission of fostering Nordic-American understanding? Projects unlikely to build transatlantic engagement receive fewer points.
  • Alignment with category: Does the application fit squarely into the particular fellowship category guidelines in terms of eligibility and goals? Poor fit with the described program reduces competitiveness.
  • Feasibility: Does the proposal and timeline demonstrate achievability? Are all necessary resources, permissions and host affiliations secured to carry out the project? Lack of thorough planning decreases favorability.
  • Applicant qualifications: Are the academic credentials, experience, language abilities and skills suitable for independent success of the proposed work? Appropriate and documented preparation strengthens applications.

While specific weights may shift slightly depending on the review committee’s composition, these elements represent the core evaluative criteria considered most indicative of successful outcomes. Meeting standard eligibility rules alone will not suffice—a competitive application must strongly advocate its case statement rationale through all reviewed facets.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What is the ASF’s mission and purpose as an organization?

The American-Scandinavian Foundation (ASF) promotes cultural understanding and collaboration between Americans and the Nordic countries through educational and civic exchange programs. Their mission is to engage, educate and build partnerships in support of Nordic-American affairs related to culture, business, policy and more.

2. How competitive are ASF fellowships to obtain?

ASF fellowships are quite competitive with acceptance rates typically in the 15-25% range depending on the program. On average over 150 applications are received annually for 30-40 slots across categories. Strong proposals that clearly demonstrate merit, feasibility and relevance to the ASF’s mission stand the best chance of selection.

3. Can international students apply for ASF funding?

No, ASF fellowships are only open to applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Citizens of Nordic countries are generally ineligible to apply themselves, though exceptions exist for certain special initiatives. The primary target group is American individuals seeking to engage in Nordic-focused learning, research, or collaboration.

4. What are some examples of past ASF fellowship outcomes and impacts?

Notable past fellows include writers, scholars, diplomats and leaders who went on to produce influential Nordic-themed works, helped establish university Nordic studies programs, advised high-level policymaking, strengthened professional sectors between the regions, and more. Their experiences catalyzed new contributions across disciplines in service of the ASF’s cultural diplomacy aims.

5. If selected for a fellowship, what are my responsibilities to the ASF?

ASF fellows are responsible for completing their proposed projects during the funding term, submitting required progress and final reports, maintaining contact with ASF program staff, acknowledging ASF support in resulting work products, participating in some alumni engagement events, and otherwise representing the organization positively as cultural ambassadors advancing Nordic-American relations.

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