The Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy – known simply as “The Atkinson” – was established to demonstrate the power of journalism to serve the public good. It’s for journalists who have high expectations for themselves and for this country: Canada’s best journalists. It’s a year to “go deep” and to tell a story that has real potential to change public policy.
Shree Paradkar used her 2018-2019 Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy to investigate how Canada’s public education system has failed to deliver equitable outcomes for Black and Indigenous students. She took us to schools around the world that are tackling inequities and liberating public education systems. They’re altering curriculums and engaging whole communities in meaningful ways – giving us lots to learn.
Educators, students, parents, and policy makers listened closely and wanted more. To make sure the series was an accessible resource around the world, we’ve compiled Shree’s work in a print format.
Tanya Talaga was the 2017-2018 Atkinson Fellow and 2018 CBC Massey Lecturer. Her five-part series, All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward, explores the connections between colonization and Indigenous youth suicide in Canada and internationally. She traveled to Halifax, Saskatoon and Vancouver for CBC Ideas . Her book is available for purchase from House of Anansi Press here.
Tanya is the first Atkinson Fellow to be named the Massey Lecturer. This is also the first time the Atkinson and the Masseys have been devoted to the same topic in the same year.
As the 2016 – 2017 Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy, Catherine Wallace explored the future of journalism at a time the number of working journalists in Canada was in sharp decline. She went beyond examining new business models, instead focusing on what role the community can play in helping fill the gap in information and storytelling. From universities to museums to everyday citizens, Wallace reported on new kinds of collaborations that are helping make sense of data, inform the public and hold governments accountable.
When the public conversation started to heat up this year, we decided to re-publish Catherine’s work in print and on a digital platform . She took this opportunity to update her series and to write a new article on the collaborations and other actions that are shaping the future today.
“Too often ‘news’ can be merely the new, the dramatic or the unusual. But to be good journalism, it also needs to answer the question ‘why?’ Good journalism has a mission to witness but also to explain. And that requires patience, resources and ‘going deep,'” concludes Peter Goodspeed in his reflections on the 30th anniversary of the Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy.
Peter was the 2013 – 2014 Atkinson Fellow. He spent a year investigating Canada’s refugee policy in relation to the Syrian refugee crisis. In this retrospective, he shares his conversations with alumni about their experience, where their reporting took them, and the contribution they made to our public life.
The Atkinson Foundation and the Honderich Family provide a seasoned Canadian journalist with $100,000 and a year to investigate a critical public policy issue. Atkinson Fellows write a series of articles for publication in the Toronto Star at the conclusion of their fellowship.
As the 2020-2021 Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy, Stephanie Nolen will take a deep dive into the story of the year – the COVID-19 crisis. She will explore the effects of COVID-19 on people, as well as the long-term impacts on public health and the economy.
“I learnt in my years of covering HIV that viruses have a way of revealing a lot about the societies where they wreak havoc,” said Nolen. “This virus is new and mysterious, but history suggested that COVID-19, like others before it, would exploit the fault lines of privilege in our society and that the most vulnerable people, such as residents of nursing homes and workers in meat processing plants, would be the least able to defend themselves… What policies and structures and institutions created those vulnerabilities? And also, what do we choose to do with this extraordinary opportunity that we have to start doing some things differently?”
Nolen has covered global human rights and public health issues, including epidemics, in more than 80 countries, from Afghanistan to Uruguay. She spent 17 years as a foreign correspondent for The Globe and Mail. She is an eight-time National Newspaper Award winner, and holds the national record for reporting nominations. Nolen has four honorary doctorates, wrote a best-selling book about the African AIDS pandemic and was an Ochberg Fellow on journalism and trauma at Columbia University.
Atkinson Fellows in Public Policy have tackled issues Joseph Atkinson would have pursued – equity, health, education and welfare reform – but also others beyond his imagination. The goal of social and economic justice is the common denominator across issues, media platforms and generations.
The 2020 – 2021 Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy application process is now closed. The winner was announced in early June 2020 at the Canadian Journalism Foundation Awards Gala.
If you are a full-time Canadian journalist in print or broadcast media and are thinking about applying for the fellowship, here’s what you should know:
Eligible candidates will:
Upload your three-page letter of intent and curriculum vitae as a single PDF to our online application form. It should:
The Selection Committee is open to research ideas on a wide range of topics. Preference will be given to issues that are at the forefront of public policy debate. The Atkinson will not be awarded to projects in history, anthropology, literature or folklore.
You are encouraged to reflect on the Foundation’s mission to promote social and economic justice. The Selection Committee uses it as the basis for its deliberations.
Letters of intent are reviewed and decisions are usually communicated by the end of February each year. If your letter is shortlisted, you’d receive an invitation to submit a more detailed proposal for mid-March. An honourarium will be provided to finalists.
If you have questions about this exceptional opportunity or the selection process, please contact Jenn Miller, Director of Social Investment at the Atkinson Foundation. email@example.com
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