Contribute to U.S. Strategy and Policy With the Middle East Institute

Sep 27, 2021 • Views -

Sponsored by the Middle East Institute

About the program

The Middle East Institute’s (MEI) Frontier Europe Initiative explores interactions between Middle East countries and their Frontier Europe neighbors – the parts of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus that form a frontier between Western Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. The program examines the growing energy, trade, security, and political relationships to help better understand the interplay between these strategically important regions. The Frontier Europe Initiative is designed to contribute to U.S. strategy and policy by researching and analyzing key regional issues.

About the fellowship

The Black Sea Research fellowship is made possible through a grant by the U.S. Department of State’s Program for Research and Training on Eastern Europe and the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (Title VIII). Black Sea Research fellows will be affiliated with the MEI Frontier Europe Program for four months in 2022. The specific start and end dates of the fellowship will be determined in coordination with the fellowship director. Four fellows of U.S. nationality will be selected to spend the first five and last three weeks of their fellowship in Washington, DC, receiving training and mentorship, refining research, and participating in policy dialogue; in the intervening eight weeks, fellows will undertake field research in one Black Sea country of their choice (Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, or Ukraine), pending COVID-19 travel options.

The Black Sea fellowship program aims to strengthen U.S. expertise and understanding of Black Sea countries while facilitating mutual connections between Americans and their regional counterparts. The fellowship will provide a unique opportunity for fellows to understand the nuances of the Black Sea region. It will ultimately produce alumni capable of developing rigorous expertise that can meaningfully contribute to U.S. foreign policy. Fellows will complete research projects, including field research, that provide new insights into their chosen topic and tangibly contribute to advancing American understanding of the region. At the end of the program, MEI will offer fellows the opportunity to become Frontier Europe Initiative contributors and/or non-resident fellows.


Title VIII Black Sea Research Fellows will be selected through an open, merit-based competition process. Candidates must be at the graduate- or post-doctoral level in international affairs, political science, economics, European/East European studies, or a related discipline, and must be U.S. citizens. The ideal candidate should have substantial research or study experience relating to the Black Sea region, as well as demonstrated interest in one or more of the research areas covered by the MEI Frontier Europe Initiative: political, economic, security, democratic, and/or governance challenges in the Black Sea with direct relevance to U.S. foreign policy. Fellows may be based in-house at MEI’s offices in Washington, D.C., or with the approval of the Program Director (and as COVID restrictions would allow) may work remotely/virtually from a location of their choosing.

Central to the program will be addressing core U.S. foreign policy objectives, including improving national security by protecting U.S. troops and developing U.S. capabilities; promoting democracy by strengthening democratic values and institutions as well as civil society; engaging with allies to strengthen their resilience against Russian aggression, Chinese strategic presence, and Iranian influence; promoting American and partners’ prosperity by securing commercial opportunities and fostering investment; advancing free-market transition; and aiding in the fight against corruption by promoting market-oriented economic and governance reforms.

We expect fellows to have excellent research and writing skills and to be able to work independently.

Regional language skills, while not a requirement, are a plus.

Research Proposal

As part of their application, interested candidates should write and submit a formal research proposal of 1,500 to 2,000 words outlining their proposed research agenda with clear relevance to U.S. foreign policy in the Black Sea region and preference for in-country placement. This proposal will serve as a baseline reference of what the Research Fellow plans to produce, which may (and likely will) continue to evolve throughout the fellowship.


To be considered, applications should be submitted no later than November 1, 2021.

Interested candidates should complete the online application form on MEI’s website and upload a .zip file including the following additional materials:

  • Cover letter
  • 1,500 to 2,000-word research proposal with the timeline with milestones 
  • Up-to-date Resume/CV
  • Official academic certificate(s) and transcripts 
  • Two letters of recommendation speaking to the candidate’s qualifications, including proficiency in host country language (if applicable) and feasibility of their research

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