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Felsman Fellowship Program

The J. Kirk Felsman Program on Children in Adversity, launched at the Sanford School of Public Policy in 2013, merges documentary and policy disciplines to serve and advocate for vulnerable children globally. 

The Felsman Fellowship provides outstanding graduates a one-year fellowship to develop dynamic approaches to reaching and caring for vulnerable children and youth through programming and documentary methodologies.

Fellows travel to locations like refugee camps; they work in the community and document the conditions. Past documentary work has been featured in outlets like the Huffington Post, Telegraph and Marie Claire Magazine. In addition, fellows have opportunities to share their work with policymakers. 


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    Capturing stories worldwide

    This image of children practicing framing a photograph was taken by Sarah Garrahan in Mangueirinha, in southern Brazil. Sarah was a Felsman Fellow in 2014-2015. During her year-long fellowship, she was based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where she facilitated photography workshops for youth and documented women's cooperatives through photography and video.

Our goal is to: 

  • inspire the next generation of innovative leaders and social entrepreneurs in the field of child protection
  • provide needed, low-cost technical support to field-based programming for vulnerable children and youth
  • empower children to tell their stories 
  • advocate for innovative global public policy for children and youth by raising public awareness of strategic issues

During the 2017-18 academic year, the program is in a strategic planning phase and is not accepting applications. 


To be eligible for the program, applicants must have received an advanced degree from Duke University.

Sample Projects

In 2015, Felsman Fellows partnered with the Training Institute for Child and Adolescent Workers, a community-based organization in Peru, and the Associação Brasileira Terra dos Homens in Brazil. Fellows worked on child protection and child labor issues. They also led documentary workshops and generated documentary materials in collaboration with youth and community members. This project was generously funded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation.  

In 2014, Felsman Fellows partnered with Save the Children-Jordan and the Turkish non-profit YUVA. At the time there were 1.2 million Syrian refugees living in Jordan and Turkey. Fellows were stationed in Istanbul, Kirikhan and the Za'atari Refugee Camp near Amman. Fellows focused on projects related to women and girls. This project was generously funded by WomenOne

About Our Founder

Kirk FelsmanThe Felsman Fellowship is inspired by the work of Dr. Kirk Felsman. He founded the Duke University Hart Fellowship program and co-founded the Lewis Hine Documentary Fellows Program at the Center for Documentary Studies. Dr. Kirk Felsman was a clinical psychologist, a professor, a Fulbright Research Scholar, a Lyndhurst Prize recipient and a Global Health Fellow at USAID. For over 30 years he worked tirelessly with street children, child soldiers, refugees, immigrants, and children affected by HIV-AIDS, wars and natural disasters. Dr. Felsman died in 2011. 

Refugee camp near syrian border - copyright/all rights reserved

Dawn. Za'atari Refugee Camp, 2014. Taken by Khaldiya