2023 Media Fellowship Information

Acknowledging the need for better public understanding of the connections between the health of people, places, and the planet, we are adding Media Fellows to our Scholars and Fellows program. We hope the Media Fellowship program will increase the number of print and online articles and posts as well as broadcasts that reflect a broad vision of health, are science-based, and accurately report on pertinent ideas, questions, and debates. We seek to embrace solutions journalism, while at the same time combating dangerous mis- and dis-information, which has become a particularly acute problem in health and science communications. We also want to disseminate innovative research and ideas, and evidence-based information, to many different audiences in understandable and engaging formats. 

The Media Fellowship program provides journalists an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the complex, intertwined network of factors that affect health and well-being and the inadequacy of a health framework that focuses on disease. Media Fellows can play an important role in translating research findings and analyses for a range of audiences, combining data with stories that inform the public and engage policymakers in order to change attitudes. 

Media Fellowship Program Details

The Nova Media Fellowship supports print, broadcast, and digital journalists proposing to immerse themselves in the health field and complete media projects for publication/dissemination that acknowledge and explore the many factors that promote well-being, prevent disease, contribute to healing, and increase an individual’s ability to flourish and live a fulfilling life. At this time, the Media Fellowship is not inviting book proposals. 

The Media Fellowship program aims to give recipients the time, space, and resources to research, write, and speak about issues that validate and show the importance of an expansive health framework. Media Fellowships are one year in duration and full-time, allowing recipients to undertake their projects in a comprehensive and creative manner. The Nova Institute strongly prefers that Media Fellows take a leave of absence from any organization where they are currently employed during the fellowship period. Projects begin in fall 2023, no later than December 1; the exact start date is flexible to accommodate individual Fellows.

The award for a Media Fellowship is $105,000 over 12 months and is all-inclusive. The award is intended to support a fellow’s living expenses, project-related expenses, travel, conference fees, health insurance, etc. We will, however, cover any costs associated with attending Nova Institute-organized meetings, workshops, or events. The fellowship does not fund enrollment for degree or non-degree study at academic institutions.

Nova President Dr. Brian Berman and Fellow Carley Riley

Media Fellows have absolute editorial control over their projects. They agree to include a collaboration credit in each published or broadcast piece developed during the Fellowship, noting that they are or were Media Fellows of the Nova Institute for Health.

Part of the Nova Community

We envision Media Fellows becoming part of our Nova community, and we will help integrate them into our networks and provide resources as they pursue their projects. Nova Institute leadership and staff organize annual conferences and monthly online meetings where our Scholars and Fellows share project findings and recommendations. These inspiring exchanges help the Scholars and Fellows learn from each other’s projects and assist each other, referencing relevant work, brainstorming solutions to conceptual or project implementation problems that emerge, providing constructive critiques, and identifying areas for future exploration or collaboration. Fruitful relationships among Scholars and Fellows and with the Nova Institute endure long after award periods have ended. 

We work with each Scholar and Fellow, as we will work with each Media Fellow, to support their work and strengthen the design and implementation of their projects so they have maximum impact. For example, the Nova Institute leadership team draws on our worldwide relationships with expert researchers and clinicians to connect Scholars and Fellows to people who could contribute to or benefit from their projects. We also share our own expertise and perspectives and plan to involve Media Fellows in workshops, exhibits, demonstration projects, and other activities as warranted. Media Fellows will receive training and coaching from the Solutions Journalism Network.  

We will also encourage Media Fellows to engage in discussions, join groups, and make connections with others via our online Nova Integration Hub. This web-based forum was created to empower a transdisciplinary community to share new ideas and ways of thinking, put research findings into practice and policy, and spark creativity, collaboration, and solutions for health and well-being.   

Our Media Advisory Council—comprising editors, reporters, and others influential in the media field—will provide additional support to Media Fellows, including offering mentorship, responding to requests for advice and introductions, and serving on or helping to shape occasional panels to discuss issues of particular interest to the Media Fellows.  

The Nova Institute and members of our Media Advisory Council will host an online orientation for the new cadre of Media Fellows as their term begins in fall 2023. We expect Media Fellows to make every effort to attend our in-person Scholars and Fellows meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 15-17, 2023, even if their term has not officially begun.

Media Advisory Council member Rich Stone presents to Nova Scholars and Fellows, Fall 2022

Project Focus
At the Nova Institute, we work to change how people think about health, moving away from a narrow focus on disease to an integrated perspective that examines the connections among individual, community, and planetary health. A singular focus on disease, long the dominant health paradigm, fails to recognize the complex network of factors (e.g., genetic, environmental, behavioral, social, economic, spiritual, and psychological), that determines the health and well-being of individuals and communities. And it pays scant attention to the potential of individuals—and the communities and planet in which we live—to thrive.   

In contrast, a broad focus on health welcomes an exploration and understanding of the connections among the myriad factors that enhance or diminish an individual’s total lived experience. Better knowledge about these factors would help public systems and private institutions improve their priorities, policies, and practices and help individuals to change their behavior and lifestyle.  

Applicants for the Media Fellowship have considerable latitude in determining the specific focus of their proposed projects. All proposals, however, should show an appreciation for the multitude of factors, at many levels, that affect health and thriving, and resist reductionist approaches. The Nova Institute will consider proposals that relate to one or more of these goals:

  • Increase knowledge of the complex network of factors that prevent illness, contribute to healing, and enable individuals to thrive in healthy communities and on a healthy planet
  • Move from a health paradigm focused on disease to a health paradigm that focuses on flourishing and well-being, examining an individual’s total lived experience 
  • Persuade key individuals—from clinicians and nonprofit and business leaders to policymakers—to recognize the multiple factors that affect health and to adopt practices and policies that respond to those factors  

Health Inequities
The COVID-19 pandemic made clear the adverse impact of long-standing inadequate and harmful social, economic, and environmental conditions on individuals’ health and the inequities that result. The Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements have shined a bright light on systemic racism and the discriminatory policies and practices that cause many of these conditions. Many underserved communities face significant barriers to getting fresh, nutritious, and plentiful food. And the climate crisis and environmental degradation has a disproportionate impact on low-income communities. The Nova Institute welcomes projects that recognize and/or examine the political, historical, and social dynamics that have led to the health inequities experienced by the BIPOC community and people who are medically underserved. 

Transdisciplinary and Inter-Sectoral Approach
To understand the many factors that affect health and well-being, and the intertwined connections among them, we champion a transdisciplinary approach and encourage projects that will tap the expertise of multiple disciplines. Given the relationship between good or harmful policies and practices and an individual’s ability to thrive, compelling projects may also explore the current or potential role of various sectors—e.g., public, business, medical, and education sectors—in advancing or undercutting health.

Ideal applicants are full-time journalists with established records of publication or broadcast in local, regional, or national markets or among targeted audiences or constituencies and have relevant full-time experience. For this inaugural year of the Media Fellowship program, we are accepting applications from U.S. based journalists only.

Society and the medical community has for far too long ignored systemic racism, economic injustice, and other factors that affect health and hurt marginalized groups. We believe that these voices must be heard and should be involved in our work, and we strongly encourage applications from people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people, or other members of other historically marginalized communities. 

Time Commitment
Fellowships begin in Fall 2023 (ideally by December 1; the start date is flexible), and last for a period of 12 months. A Media Fellow must be able to devote at least 35 hours per week to the proposed project, and the project should be the Fellow’s only full-time work during the fellowship term. We will hold quarterly check-ins with Media Fellows and expect Media Fellows to attend annual meetings, including one scheduled for Fall 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland, and participate in monthly online meetings convened by the Nova Institute for the Scholars and Fellows network as well approximately 2-3 other Nova events such as our “Nova Campfires” and annual conference, which are typically held virtually. 

Project Deliverables
We recognize the value of flexible support, designed to encourage unbounded curiosity and to allow Media Fellows to follow leads suggested by their research and reflection. Nevertheless, applicants must propose deliverables or products that reflect a year’s worth of full-time, ambitious work. In all cases, deliverables must aim to reach the targeted audiences via publication and dissemination during the term of the fellowship. We will not support projects that involve only research that simply lays the groundwork for future use.

Journalists interested in being considered for a Nova Media Fellowship should ensure they meet the eligibility criteria listed above and submit an application that consists of a written proposal, resumé, recommenders, and work samples, detailed here

Applications should be emailed to no later than July 5, 2023.   

Four to six finalists will be chosen from the pool of applicants, and we will request confidential letters from the three individuals each finalist has identified to serve as recommenders. A selection committee, comprising Nova Institute staff, Scholars and Fellows, Media Advisory Council members, and other media specialists, will interview each candidate. We will ask finalists to submit additional information or materials to respond to questions raised by their application or interview. The Nova Institute will then select two finalists to serve as our inaugural 2023 Media Fellows. 

Media Fellowship Announcement: April 12 
Applications Due: July 5 (11:59 p.m. ET) 
Notification for Finalist Applicants: July 24  
Letters of Recommendations Due: August 9 
Finalist Interviews: July 31-August 11
Notification for Selected Fellows: August 14 
Scholars and Fellows Meeting (in-person): October 15-17 
Fellowship Term Begins Fall 2023 (Before Dec 1)  

Note: all dates except the application due date are subject to change at the Nova Institute’s discretion.  

Nova Institute Media Advisory Council Members

Virginia Hubbell
Mark Hyman
Jackie Judd
Jayne O’Donnell
John Schidlovsky
Rich Stone

See application guidelines

Applications for 2023 are closed.

Download a PDF of the program overview

Questions? Contact Dawn Stoltzfus, Senior Director of Strategic Communications, at

Healing is facilitated through safety, persistence, and trust.

  • Persistence: “People did not simply progress through this sequence and experience healing. The healing journey was a recursive, back and forth process. They found helpers, used the skills/resources that those helpers provided, found other helpers that provided more resources and used those skills and resources. As this process continued, people experienced a gradual amelioration of their suffering. Although many despaired at times, all demonstrated the quality of persistence—they refused to give up.”
  • Safety & Trust: “To connect to helpers, it was essential for people to feel safe in those relationships and able to trust that the person would be a helper and not a barrier to healing. Persons whose wounds included a violation of trust were especially careful about testing the safety of new relationships.”

Resources support us as we heal. They include reframing, responsibility, and positivity. “Making connections enabled participants to acquire and refine resources and skills that were essential in their healing journey. People also brought their own personal strengths to the journey.”

  • Reframing: “A particularly important skill was the ability to reframe—that is to look at suffering through a different lens.” This does NOT mean minimizing trauma or pain, but rather it often means the opposite: understanding what happened was wrong, unfair, or uncontrollable and that we are not to blame for it.
  • Responsibility: While we don’t have control over what happened to us, we are the only ones who can help ourselves heal. “A third essential resource that people acquired or refined was the ability to take an appropriate amount of responsibility for their healing journeys. They participated actively in the process of healing. Once again, some participants already had developed this skill, and some acquired or refined it from their helpers.”
  • Positivity: “Another resource that people acquired or refined during their healing journey was choose to be positive—that is to have some optimism about their situation.” People have varying predispositions to positivity. In the study, positivity was important in helping people heal. This doesn’t mean a toxic positivity, but rather simply finding some good in life and feeling hopeful about our situations.

“Connection to others was an essential part of all the healing journeys.” Humans are social creatures, and even the most introverted of us need close relationships. Friends and family add meaning and value to life and help support us, in good times and bad. 

When we experience relational trauma, relationships can feel scary, but reestablishing safety and trust in relationships is where the healing happens. (To be clear, we do not mean reestablishing safety and trust with abusers, but rather finding other healing relationships.) 

“When safety and trust had been established, people were able to connect with helpers. The nature of the behaviours of helpers that fostered healing ranged from small acts of kindness to unconditional love.”

  • “Moving from being wounded, through suffering to healing, is possible. It is facilitated by developing safe, trusting relationships and by positive reframing that moves through the weight of responsibility to the ability to respond.”
  • “Relationships with health professionals were among these but were not necessarily any more important to the healing journey than other kinds of helpers, which included family members, friends, spirituality and their God, pets, support groups, administrators, case workers and supervisors.”

Healing probably means different things to different people, but one definition that emerged from the study is: “The re-establishment of a sense of integrity and wholeness.” 

Healing was an emergent property that resulted from each individuals’ complex healing journey, a result of bridged connections between resources and relationships. “…they gradually found relief from suffering and began to exhibit emergent characteristics: a sense of hope, self-acceptance, and a desire to help others—the immediate precursors to healing.”

 In varying degrees, “they were able to transcend their suffering and in some sense to flourish.” 

  • Helping Others: We find meaning in helping others. “Understanding that suffering gives the strength and experience to help others in similar situations.”
  • Hope: We begin to have hope that we will not always feel this bad. A Crohn’s patient said, “I think gradually I realized that I was going to feel better. I did have days when I actually didn’t vomit, when I did feel better. And I think gradually I came to believe that maybe I could have a normal life again.”
  • Self-Acceptance: We see our inherent value and understand that we are not to blame for our suffering. A participant living with HIV said, “I’m really proud of myself. I think that now I still want to live. I don’t want to die, and I really love myself a lot. I have a lot of comfort in myself.”

Suffering is the ongoing pain from wounding. 

There is debate about whether or not one actually needs to experience suffering on the path to healing.

Wounding happens when we experience physical or emotional harm. It can stem from chronic illness or by physical or psychological trauma for which we do not have the tools to cope, or a combination of those factors. 

“The degree and quality of suffering experienced by each individual is framed by contextual factors that include personal characteristics, timing of their initial or ongoing wounding in the developmental life cycle and prior and current relationships.”

Characteristics: How predisposed someone may be to wounding/how many tools and resources someone may have to deal with trauma/illness.

Lifestages: Developmental timing plays an important role in the impact of trauma — young children often do not have the same resources as older adults.

Relationships: Relationships can provide solace and support for those suffering, while lack of healthy relationships can prolong suffering.