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2024 VIP Lab Fellowship Application



More Information

Key Information


The Violence, Inequality and Power Lab (VIP Lab) is a space for cutting-edge research and idea generation on how to shift the power inequalities that reinforce cycles of violence. Engaging evidence with determination, we interrogate effective practice to build peace with justice, delivering practical and actionable content that partners can advance at various levels. The VIP Lab is part of the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice (Kroc IPJ) within the Kroc School at the University of San Diego. Learn more about the Kroc IPJ and how they seek to learn with partners on the website.

Inequality is correlated with nearly all forms of violence. Yet there remains a dearth of focused analysis or reflection on the ways in which unequal power relationships shape responses to violence. This impedes our collective capacity to sufficiently analyze violence, resulting in ineffective and often harm-reinforcing solutions. In 2024, we launched the VIP Lab Fellows Program with funding from the U.S. Department of Education with the goal of helping to fill this analytic and conversational void.

The goal of the fellowship program is to support rigorous research and advance thought leadership on how power inequalities impact violence, both in driving violence dynamics and influencing responses to it. Fellows will help shape the conversation around power inequalities and violence through exploring new lines of research, reinforcing existing areas of study, and building collaborative approaches that bring together one or more disciplinary approaches. The fellowship will advance understanding of the centrality of power inequality in the debate on how to reduce, prevent and respond to various forms of violence.    

During the 10-month fellowship, selected Fellows will be expected to:

  • Complete a research product (formats could include journal article, a policy brief, think piece, white paper, literature review); 
  • Contribute to a final report to be drafted by the VIP Lab;
  • Expand and reinforce their existing network; 
  • Learn from one another through monthly Zoom meetings as well as two in-person convenings in San Diego;
  • Take advantage of opportunities to share their research with a wider audience of practitioners, policy makers and academics; 
  • Receive intellectual feedback through thought partnership from VIP Lab and Kroc IPJ;
  • Agree to have their research shared publicly through a variety of means (written, in person, video, etc) and to engage in dialogue with counterparts on their work;
  • Engage with Kroc School students and faculty as feasible through guest lecturing classes, individual meetings and other gatherings while on campus.
  • Contribute to expanding the field of study and practice of inequality and violence.

Fellowship Dates: January - October 2024

Details on Non-Residential Fellowship:

  • Six fellows will be selected. 
  • Can be based anywhere in the world.
  • Must be willing and able to travel to San Diego in May and October 2024 for midpoint and final gatherings.
  • Fellows will receive a stipend of USD $15,000, which will cover their time spent in the fellowship as well as any costs for conducting fellowship-related research. 
  • The Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice will cover all travel-related costs for two trips to the University of San Diego.



Areas of Research


Although the VIP Lab is interested in exploring a range of different forms of inequality and violence, this first cohort of Fellows will be asked to narrow their purview of focus to one or multiple of the following types of violence: 

Violence against women 

We are using here the United Nations definition of violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life." For the purposes of our work, we include in this definition any person who self-identifies as a woman. 

Research proposals should explore ways in which power inequalities either reinforce patterns of violence against women, or impede progress on addressing VAW. Examples could include: gender norms, militarized masculinities, control of financial or other assets, behavioral biases, judicial or law enforcement biases, etc. The strongest ideas here will explore ways in which power inequalities impact violence dynamics in a range of different directions. 

Community Violence

Here we borrow from the definition used by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Community violence happens between unrelated individuals, who may or may not know each other, generally outside the home. Examples include assaults or fights among groups and shootings in public places, such as schools and on the streets.” 

Research proposals should explore how power inequalities at different levels may impact community violence. This could include power inequality among different conflicting groups as well as between groups in conflict and others within or outside the community. Examples could include: how trauma influences ideas of agency and respect vis-a-vis others, legacies of disenfranchisement, political power to influence justice system practice and policy, etc. The strongest ideas here will focus on quality research that makes clear how one or more lines of inequality relates to patterns of violence. 

Political Violence 

We define political violence as individuals or groups using violence as a tool to influence political actors, political decisions or political processes. Political violence includes the following, as provided by Bridging Divides Initiative, “...partisan violence, or violence targeted at groups because of race, religion, or other group factors, perpetrated by the state or non-state actors.”

Research proposals should explore how power inequalities, or perceptions thereof, may be a driver, mobilizing or purported justification for political violence. Examples could include: demographic shifts in political influence, use of narrative by powerful actors to mobilize grievances towards political violence, the influence of historical legacies, etc. The strongest ideas here will take a multi-actor, rather than singular, perspective on how power inequalities influence the motivations of political violence.  


In their applications, candidates should specify which type of violence will be the focus of their research. Note, it is entirely acceptable to focus on two types of violence. For example, how violence against women in the home may reinforce cycles of trauma that play out as community violence. Please be sure to clarify this in your proposal.


Eligibility & Selection Criteria


Selection Criteria: 

To ensure our thinking is grounded and diverse, we highly encourage individuals with the following backgrounds to apply. Note, a background in one of these categories is not a requirement for the Fellowship

  • Justice system/criminal legal system involved individuals* 
  • Individuals with a law enforcement background
  • Military veterans 

Additional selection criteria includes: 

  • Demonstrated ability to influence, inform or shift conversations, whether within fields of practice, in the public dialogue, or within key institutions.
  • Existence of a robust professional network. 
  • Proven ability to advance research independently. 
  • Determination to open dialogue on an underrepresented, under-researched or under-valued area of knowledge production.
  • Capacity and interest in working with people who hold differing opinions. 

Eligibility Requirements: 

  • Research Experience
    • Proven experience conducting either independent research or as a research lead within a broader team.
    • Research does not need to be experimental in nature, but must be rigorous nevertheless. 
    • We encourage applicants who are interested in both quantitative and qualitative research methods.   
  • Education Requirement: 
    • No minimum degree requirement. 
    • Demonstrated educational or professional attainment is required to make clear that the candidate will be able to undertake research independently and with quality. This can be demonstrated through published work, certificates of achievement, non-published material with explanation of use, etc. 
  • Communication: 
    • Applicants must have a proven track record of strong communication, whether through public speaking, written material, video or otherwise. As an applied research office, we place value not only on the quality of the research, but the ability of research to influence discussion. 
  • English fluency: 
    • At this time, all applicants must be fluent in both written and spoken English. 

The University of San Diego Community

Fellows are expected to engage with members of the University of San Diego community, treating all community members with respect and professionalism.

The University of San Diego includes “human dignity” as one of its core values: “We believe that a diversity of people, ideas, beliefs, languages, approaches to learning, and other forms of difference, are essential for education. We affirm the dignity of every person and strive to create a culture of respect and inclusivity. This conviction grounds our efforts to ensure that all members of our university community are able to thrive in every dimension of their lives.” Fellows are expected to treat everyone with respect, including people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, disabilities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, and countries of origin, among other categories.

If at any point the selected Fellow does not meet or follow the requirements and expectations listed during their Fellowship, the Kroc IPJ has the right to revoke their Fellowship.

*People who have spent time in jails, youth correctional facilities, prisons, or gone through court-mandated diversion programs or been on probation.





August 2023: Applications open

September 7, 2023: Applications close, 17:00 Pacific Time

October 2023: Interviews for selected applicants

November 2023: Selection and offers sent out

January 2024: Fellowship begins 

May 2024: Midpoint workshop in San Diego, California

October 2024: Final conference in San Diego, California, including completion of individual Fellow reports and final report




To submit an application, you must complete the following components: 

  1. Basic information through the form below. 
  2. Curriculum Vitae or Resume.
  3. Cover letter explaining how this Fellowship complements existing work, how it will contribute to your professional growth, and how you will support the goals and aspirations of the Fellowship. 
  4. Research Abstract:
    1. In 800 words or less, please tell us what research area you plan to work on, how your research will contribute to knowledge, how you will go about collecting data, and your preferred method of communicating the findings of your research. 
    2. Be sure to reference the type(s) of violence that will be your focus (power inequality in relationship to: violence against women, community violence, and/or political violence). 
    3. Reference your thinking regarding the final research product. This can be a journal article, a policy brief, think piece, white paper, literature review or in another format agreed to with the VIP Lab Director. 
    4. Research does not need to focus on a single geographic area, it can be topical (i.e., VAW and border crossings) or geographically defined (i.e., community violence in Cape Town). 

Note: If you are selected to advance beyond the interview stage, you will be asked to submit two letters of recommendation.

For any additional questions, please contact VIP Lab Director Rachel Locke: rlocke@sandiego.edu

By submitting this application with your digital signature, you are confirming the following:

  • My statements on this form and any attachments are true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.
  • I have read and understand the Key Information, Areas of Research, Eligibility and Selection Criteria, Timeline, and Application.
  • I understand that my application will not be considered complete or reviewed until all materials (CV/Resume, Cover Letter and Research Abstract) are submitted.
  • The Kroc IPJ reserves all rights regarding the selection of applicants for a fellowship, including the right to not select any fellows if no applicants are judged to meet the requirements of the fellowship.
  • I understand that I am expected to treat all members of the University of San Diego community with respect.

Applications are now closed.