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Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre Internship Program :: Center for Science and Technology Policy Research

About the internship program Application information Summer Placements Notes from the field


SUMMER 2020 Application information

Improving Environmental Communication and Adaptation Decision-making in the Humanitarian Sector

Application Deadline: March 9, 2020 at noon (MT)

Submit your application to redcross@colorado.edu by Monday, March 9, 2020 at 12 PM (MT)

CU-Boulder has partnered with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCRCCC) to place graduate students in locations Southern/Eastern Africa each summer to help understand and address climate risks. This collaborative program targets improvements in environmental communication and adaptation decision-making as well as disaster prevention and preparedness in the humanitarian sector. It connects humanitarian practitioners from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre – an affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – with graduate student researchers at the University of Colorado who are interested in science-policy-humanitarian issues. Through this program we strive to accomplish three key objectives: 

  • to improve the capacity of humanitarian practitioners within the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies network at the interface of science, policy and practice 
  • to help meet needs and gaps as well as work as a research clearinghouse in environmental communication and adaptation decision-making in response to climate variability and change, as identified through Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre priorities and projects
  • to benefit graduate students by complementing the classes and research that they undertake in their graduate program with real-world experience in climate applications and development work

This fellowship program will place a Ph.D. and/or Master’s degree student in an IFRC regional field office, a National Society branch office, or with a partner organization for a period of approximately 3 months. The Climate Centre supervisors will liaise with specific IFRC field offices to identify potential projects and placements. If possible, the student will partner with a student from a local university to work on all or parts of the project together, to contribute to local ownership and research capacity building. This process will be with the host Red Cross Red Crescent National Society and Climate Centre Junior Researcher Coordinator and Supervisor, to align with any existing institutional connections and partnerships in the host country.

Once projects are identified, Climate Centre supervisors will work with co-Director Max Boykoff, co-Director Fernando Briones and the student to design a scope of work. Projects can encompass but are not limited to, topics such as the use of scientific information in decision making, communication of probability and uncertainty, perceptions of risk, characterizing vulnerability and adaptive capacity, or recommending course of action based on analytical approaches. Placements in the field will address specific needs identified by IFRC field staff related to challenges of science communication and adaptation decision-making. 

Participants will be required to write six blog posts from the field during this placement, give some presentations (e.g. in the CSTPR brown bag series) upon return, and complete a report at the conclusion of their fellowship detailing their experience and research outcomes.

$4,000 funding in total will be provided to offset expenses (in-country housing, food, airfare, and in-country transportation). Expenses can vary widely depending on the location and nature of the placement. Fellows will work with CU-affiliated travel agents to arrange round-trip airfare to their field site. Due to this $4,000 limit, applicants are encouraged to seek additional funds from alternate sources, as expenses can exceed this budgeted amount. 

Over the past seven years, this CU Boulder program has now placed these nine students in locations of eastern and southern Africa:

  • Sarah Posner (Geography, Ph.D.), Nairobi, Kenya
  • Juhri Selamet (College of Media, Communication and Information, PhD), Maputo, Mozambique
  • Katie Chambers (Engineering, Ph.D.), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Sierra Gladfelter (Geography, MS) Lusaka, Zambia 
  • Drew Zackary (Anthropology Ph.D.), Apac and Otuke, Uganda
  • Leslie Dodson (ATLAS Ph.D.), Lusaka, Zambia and Capetown, South Africa
  • Amy Quandt (ENVS Ph.D.), Isiolo, Kenya
  • Arielle Tozier de la Poterie (ENVS Ph.D.), Soroti, Uganda
  • Kanmani Venkateswaran (ENVS, MS), Lusaka, Zambia

Past project topics have included analysis of uses of regional climate forecasts to trigger anticipatory humanitarian action and examinations of ways to improve the linking of science-based forecasts with humanitarian decisions. More information on the specifics of all these placements and activities can be found here.

Application Details for Summer 2020

Successful candidates will have a demonstrated interest in developing country regions, as well as demonstrated interest in one or both topic areas (environmental communication and adaptation decision-making), as evidenced by any of these elements: courses completed/underway, past work, volunteer and/or research experience, MS/Ph.D. thesis direction. 

Successful candidates must be self-starters and capable of adapting to independent working conditions. Students must have the consent of their graduate advisor to participate. A detailed terms of reference tailored to each fellow will be developed by the RCRCCC based upon their needs and the fellow’s skills in the months leading up to placement in the field.

1. Main application (submitted as one pdf file):

  • Up to 1000-word statement about interest (geographic and/or topical) in the fellowship program, as well as a description of: a) how participation would align with academic requirements, b) how previous experience and current skills would help to the RCRCCC to achieve its mission, c) preferred focus of work or topic of study, d) previous international experience and d) future career goals and objectives. Please be sure to specifically describe why and how the fellowship will be a mutually beneficial opportunity for both the CU student and the Climate Centre. 
  • Statement of availability between May and August 2020
  • Current C.V.
  • Unofficial transcript(s) from graduate work at University of Colorado-Boulder

2. A one-page letter/statement from your graduate advisor, expressing support for your participation in this Fellowship program in summer 2020. Please have them email this to redcross@colorado.edu

Notification and Planning timeline:

March 9, 2020 by noon MT: Applications (and graduate advisor support letter) due to 

week commencing March 16: Interviews with finalist fellowship candidates 

week commencing March 30: applicants informed of fellowship placement decisions

April 15: Deadline for fellowship invitees to accept/decline offer (at this stage, offer 
is not a guarantee until final placement is confirmed by IFRC in Spring 2020)

April/May 2020: Final matching and placement decisions will be completed by IFRC

Summer 2020: students will be placed in Southern and/or East African regional field offices 

These fellowships are made available through support by the Environmental Studies Program (ENVS), Inside the Greenhouse, the Natural Hazards Center and Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR).


Max Boykoff (Co-Director)
Associate Professor
CIRES Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR) Director
(303) 735-0451

Fernando Briones (Co-Director)
CIRES Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR) Research Affiliate
University of Colorado