Amos’s Sermon: Consider An Overseas Fellowship To Enhance Your Development

BY AMOS JONES

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, September 3, 2006 – “Australia is facing deep cultural conflict over same-sex marriages, religious influences on policy and whether to add a bill of rights to the constitution. Post-modern constitutional lawmaking plays a dynamic role in seeing Australia through these complex relations.”

So stated my Fulbright Postgraduate Fellowship application that I began writing during this season last year, when I was a 3L. I arrived a few days ago in this fascinating country to a warm and energetic reception at the host institution working with me as I pursue my research.

I am one of twelve Americans to be granted a Fulbright Postgraduate Award in 2006. When it was suggested that I write about this in this career edition of The Record, I was happy to follow through (and certainly could make time to do so, since my days as a Visitor are devoted to reading, researching, interviewing, and writing).

From the University of Melbourne Law School I am researching the roles of culture, media, politics, and religion in post-modern constitutional lawmaking. I aim to assess the interdependence of popular culture, religion, and mass media as they influence the establishment of civil and human rights in Australia. I intend to contribute to the development of theories of process that could be useful among other nations conceptualizing rights.

Of course, my situation away from big firms, famous judges’ chambers, legal nonprofits, and the government is nothing new. Every year a host of Harvard Law students arrive or depart the School with overseas fellowships among their credentials. Our very own Dean Elena Kagan attended Worcester College, Oxford, as Princeton’s Daniel M. Sachs Graduating Fellow in 1981.

Such fellowships can provide an opportunity for the recipient to acquire professional experience, intellectual development, an opportunity for solitary reflection, travel experience, and networking opportunities. When taken after the J.D. is earned, they can amount to what Ph.D. students call a “postdoc,” a postdoctoral period of specific research and job-hunting. If you already have accepted a job, as I had when the Fulbright was offered to me in March, your anticipated employer might be happy to let you take a year elsewhere before joining them, especially when the award is prestigious and offers valuable professional experience.

At Harvard we are fortunate to have Judy Murciano, who spends much of her time as the brilliantly effective Director of Fellowships in the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising.

She expertly assists applicants as described on OPIA’s Web site: “HLS students interested in pursuing postgraduate fellowships are encouraged to meet with OPIA’s Fellowship Director, Judy Murciano. Judy has been doing fellowship advising for 16 years, including ten at HLS. She has been incredibly successful at helping HLS students land wonderful public service and traveling fellowships. She has also been able to help our graduates become social entrepreneurs by helping them obtain seed money for independent projects and new non-profits. Judy, along with other OPIA staffers, is available to work with HLS students and alums throughout all phases of the fellowship application process, from helping to identify the right fellowships to pursue to fund a particular type of work to reviewing your application essays and conducting mock interviews to prepare for the real fellowship interview.”

The Fulbright program is the largest educational scholarship of its kind and was created by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright and the U.S. Government in 1946. Aimed at promoting mutual understanding through educational exchange, it currently operates between the U.S. and more than 150 other nations. In Australia, the scholarships are administered by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission with headquarters in the capital city of Canberra and are funded by the Australian and U.S. Governments and a select group of corporate partners. I join twenty American Fulbright Scholars electing to study in Australia in 2006.

This year three Harvard Law students received Fulbrights. The other two are Mujon Baghai (Italy) and C. Cora True-Frost (Sierra Leone).

Amos Jones (’06) is from Lexington, Ky.

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