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The Mapping Democracy Fellowship


The Humanity in Action journey begins with a Fellowship.

Visualizing Landscapes of Democracy: A Place-Based Exploration of Washington D.C.


The 2023 US Fellowship is a hybrid program consisting of one week of online workshops followed by two weeks of in-person programming based in Washington, DC. Following this programming, Fellows further participate in monthly online Action Project Labs taking place from September 2023 to May 2024.

A group of approximately 20 American and European Fellows and Senior Fellows embark on a collaborative investigation and interpretation of spatial data to investigate the January 6th uprising at the Capitol. Fellows will use mapping and multimedia storytelling to visualize the fragility, shortcomings, and strengths of American democracy. 

From May 31st through June 2nd, Fellows meet virtually for approximately four hours each day. This time is spent building community, practicing mapping techniques, and preparing for their time in Washington DC through small group projects.

On June 5th and 6th, Fellows join the other cohorts for two days of International Programming. This is an opportunity to engage with the broader Humanity in Action network and to contextualize themes of the Mapping Democracy Fellowship alongside the work of concurrent Fellowship programs. 

June 7th is the final virtual meeting day before Fellows travel to Washington DC. This in-person portion of the program begins with a gathering the evening of June 11th. June 12th marks the first full day of in-person sessions. June 13th gives Fellows the opportunity to explore Washington DC independently. 

June 11th through June 19th are full days of programming. The Fellowship has two distinct parts. The first, which begins during the virtual portion, has Fellows identifying and mapping an existing monument or space in Washington DC that was designed to epitomize democracy. In small groups, Fellows map the monuments or spaces, incorporating their histories, stated objectives, and narratives. Fellows also address their public impact in regard to missions, myths, and truths. The other core part of the Fellowship focuses on developing maps that depict the fragility and/or strength of liberal democracy as revealed on January 6th, 2021. The program develops a set of questions, guidelines, and ideas to help inform the Fellows’ exploratory work designed in abstract or realistic representations.

The Fellowship incorporates site visits, workshops, guest speakers, and group discussions. Among the many scholars invited to speak, the program draws upon the expertise of PERIL: Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab at American University.

On June 20th, Fellows return to their communities to consider the global connections of political and social movements and how these questions of democracy – and tools of data visualization and storytelling – can be applied to their own context. This will also be the basis of the Action Projects that Fellows will develop over the next 10 months.

During the Mapping Democracy Fellowship, Fellows:

  1. Explore theories and histories of social justice, civic resistance, and collective memory in the United States Capitol and capital.
  2. Understand how individuals and groups employ maps and data to oppress as well as resist and protest inequities.
  3. Survey basic techniques in mapping, data visualization, and multimedia storytelling.
  4. Create their own maps and data visualizations to reveal hidden stories, expose dominant and deceiving narratives, and provoke change at a neighborhood, city, state, or country level.

Given the trans-Atlantic and US time differences, the virtual lectures and workshops for all Fellows take place in the morning US time and afternoon European time. 

Photo by Eric Dekker. Retrieved from Unsplash.

Applicants should have basic experience with data collection, analysis, mapping, or visualization before the Fellowship begins. However, for selected Fellows with a keen interest in learning how to tell impactful visual stories with data but without a mapping background, there will be preparatory resources and tutorials available that provide basic mapping knowledge and skills.

While all on-the-ground programming costs and accommodations are covered, Fellows are responsible for their transportation costs to and from the Fellowship. If a Fellow needs financial support to enable participation, Humanity in Action considers such need. Fellows should be in touch with Humanity in Action staff after acceptance into the program. 


Applications for the 2024 Fellowship for US-based Fellows are coming soon! If you are interested in being notified when applications open, please sign up here!

If you have any questions, please reach out to

The Fellowship is inspired by a multitude of mapping projects from both the US and Europe, including: