Foundation identifies political historian and former dream mentor to lead its National Fellowship Program

January 12, 2021

The Jefferson Scholars Foundation is pleased to announce that James Sparrow will serve as the next director of the National Fellowship Program beginning July 1, 2021. A political historian at the University of Chicago, Sparrow teaches a number of courses on the history of U.S. politics, diplomacy, and war. His work also explores democratic publics, state formation, social movements, and citizenship through an historical lens.  
Professor Sparrow replaces longtime director, Brian Balogh, who founded the National Fellowship Program in 2000. “As a result of Brian’s tireless efforts, the Program is now the most prestigious fellowship in the field of American politics and history,” said Jimmy Wright, president of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation. “Brian has been a great help in the Foundation’s efforts to identify his successor and will be working closely with Professor Sparrow for the remainder of the academic year to ensure a smooth transition.”

Under Sparrow’s leadership, the Program will continue its emphasis on “high-impact mentoring, public scholarship, and intensive cohort-building.” In order to meet the challenges facing graduate students today and in response to changes in the landscape of higher education, the Program will also now offer new enrichment opportunities and will extend support for two years, when appropriate. 

“Sparrow has been a good friend of the National Fellowship Program for many years, having previously served as a mentor to two Fellows,” said Balogh. “He is familiar with the mission of the Program and with many members of the National Fellowship community. I have no doubt his vision and direction will expand the Program’s success.”

To date, the Program has funded 182 Fellows, many of whom hold tenure-track positions at major universities across the country, as well as leadership positions in public service, the nonprofit sector, government, and other public-facing professions. 

“I am very much looking forward to working with the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, said Sparrow. “The National Fellowship Program has become a model of excellence among national fellowships in my field, and I will do everything I can to ensure that it remains that as we adjust to the new conditions confronting higher education.”

The National Fellowship Program will accept applications for the 2021-22 academic year from January 15 through March 15, 2021. To learn how to apply, click here.