CASBS Fellow Selection Process Changes

The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) recently announced that it will be changing its fellows selection process, allowing researchers and scholars to apply for fellowships instead of soliciting nominations, as has been the tradition. The change will take effect with the 2008-2009 class.

Located near the Stanford University campus, this unique Center offers year-long residential fellowships in a collegial intellectual environment in which leading scholars have the freedom to pursue research topics in depth. The Center was established in 1954 to help develop knowledge about behavior that would improve the human condition. It has housed more than 2,000 fellows during that time, including 17 Nobel Prize winners, eight Pulitzer Prize winners, and 18 National Medal of Science winners.

Under the leadership of past APS Board Member Claude Steele, Center Director, and APS Fellow and Charter Member Anne Petersen, Deputy Director, CASBS is embarking on a new era as an “incubator of innovation” that will be characterized by increased collaboration among the behavioral sciences. The change in the fellows selection process is a critical part of moving in this new direction.

“It will give us a greater ability to focus on our fellowships thematically,” says Steele. “To be able to select fellows who have an interest along these themes and bring them together enables us to engineer some intellectual chemistry.” As Steele noted, the new application process could increase the role of psychology at CASBS. With themes that are attractive to psychologists and the promise of collaborating with top-notch colleagues, CASBS is hoping that more researchers will be encouraged to apply. The themes for the upcoming class will be “Improving Health and Healthcare” and “Achieving Equality,” although researchers are not required to identify with a theme.

According to Petersen, CASBS is hoping to attract a “younger, more diverse mix.” The nomination process worked well for many years, she noted, but tended to favor senior researchers working in traditional fields at elite universities. The change could draw in groups of researchers that have been underrepresented in fellow classes, such as young scholars, international scholars, interdisciplinary scholars, scholars of color, and those from smaller research universities. It will also “help advance smaller fields and help the fields be more of a service to society,” which were goals of the founders of CASBS, says Petersen.

Both Steele and Petersen are hoping that this will have a positive effect on collaborations at the Center. “It will enable the fellows to be more interactive,” says Steele. “Hopefully, that will energize the atmosphere.”

The fellows class will consist of approximately 45 researchers, spanning all branches of the social and behavioral sciences. For the up-coming fellows class, CASBS will continue to look for the excellence that has always been its trademark. In addition, Steele noted that they will also be looking for candidates that complement each other well, in order to “create wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts.”

Applications for the 08-09 class are due on June 30, 2007. Further information on the Center, as well as application forms and guidelines, can be found on the CASBS website, www.casbs.org.

Observer Vol.20, No.5 May, 2007

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