Announcing Secure World Foundation 2022 Space Sustainability Fellowships -- application deadline July 1

Monday, June 6, 2022

To investigate fundamental questions and clarify fundamental concepts in space sustainability, the Secure World Foundation announces the first class of Space Sustainability Fellowships.

Background: The mission of the Secure World Foundation is to work with governments, industry, international organizations, and civil society to develop and promote ideas and actions to achieve the secure, sustainable, and peaceful uses of outer space benefiting Earth and all its peoples. In the course of our work, often the underlying rationales and concepts of space sustainability become forgotten or misconstrued. Consequently, basic concepts, facts, and rationales underpinning space sustainability necessitate continued investigation, discussion, promotion, and socialization. 

The Space Sustainability Fellows will be tasked with investigating and answering questions regarding one of the following fundamental concepts underpinning space sustainability, including: the character and utility of norms governing space activities; the “space as a commons” paradigm; and polycentric approaches to space sustainability (explained further below).

Position: Space Sustainability Fellowships shall be up to three (3) months long. They can be in-person in the SWF DC office, hybrid, or entirely remote. They are open to non-US persons. Ideal candidates will likely be graduate level or early career professionals. Fellows will update SWF on a bi-weekly basis on the nature and current status of their work, and upon completion of the fellowship will be encouraged to present their research and findings broadly. In 2022, SWF is seeking two (2) Fellows; ideally, one from June-August and a second from September to November. 

Compensation: The Fellowship is compensated with honoraria of $2,500 USD during their fellowship, and an additional $2,000 USD upon successful submission and acceptance of their research deliverables. 

Deliverables: Space Sustainability Fellows shall complete and submit a final report on their research topic, of between 12,000 to 20,000 words (excluding footnotes/endnotes), of publishable and professional quality, and of original content (not plagiarized), with references. In addition to a final report, a five (5) page executive summary will be submitted. Reports will be posted on the SWF website and SWF will have the right to publish and distribute them, but fellows shall be listed as the report’s main author and shall retain primary ownership rights over their work products. Researchers will be encouraged to present their report elsewhere in the space field, and a $500 stipend is available for assistance to present their work at conferences or other venues. 

Call for Applications: Choose one (1) of the following specific research areas below, and submit your proposed research agenda (300 words or less) of how you would work to answer the research question and submit the deliverables listed above (report and executive summary). Include your current resume or CV. Submissions due at Close of Business EST on July 1, 2022. No phone calls, please. Submit to with the subject line: 2022 SWF Space Sustainability Research Proposal - [your last name]. 

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) at SWF: The Secure World Foundation provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, expression or identity, national origin, age, disability, or genetics. SWF is committed to promoting and supporting more diverse, inclusive, and equitable engagement in discussions on issues related to the secure, sustainable, and peaceful uses of outer space. We believe that we can harness the inspirational power of space to be as inclusive as possible in our workplace and in all our activities, to help create a more tolerant, more inclusive, and more humane society, right here on Earth. As an organization, we plan to maintain and enhance evaluation and feedback mechanisms for continued improvement in this area.

2022 Space Sustainability Research Areas


1. Norms for Space Sustainability 

Research questions: What kinds and types of norms exist for the governance of outer space activities, and what kinds are most urgently needed to foster space sustainability? What evidence and or examples can be found where specific norms for space have influenced (either positively or negatively) actions towards improving the sustainability of space activities? What are the benefits and limitations of the various types of norms for outer space? A lexicon of norms is a specific deliverable of this research question.

2. Space as a “Global Commons”

Research Questions: What does the phrase “Space as a Global Commons” mean? Is outer space actually a global commons, or common pool resource (why or why not)? Or, might multiple different economic systems exist? Which actors refer to outer space using these terms? How can concepts from the governance of the commons & common pool resources productively inform various space policy discussions? Are there approaches from the governance of other shared domains (air, sea, cyber, Antarctica, environmental) that might be usefully transposed to space governance? Additionally, what concepts from those shared domains do not translate well to outer space? What happens when some actors see space as a commons, while others do not share this view? 

3. Applying Polycentric Governance Concepts to Space

Research Questions: How does the existing body of literature on polycentric governance inform how we should be approaching space governance? What are the missing mechanisms, institutions, and stakeholders that need to be created or brought into the discussion? What should be the priority in applying polycentric governance concepts in near-term work to bolster space governance and enhance long-term sustainability, safety, and security of outer space?


Last updated on June 7, 2022