Innovation Fellowship: Artificial Intelligence and Governance

at Union of Concerned Scientists
Published February 24, 2024
Location Cambridge, MA
Category Default  
Job Type Full-time  


Innovation Fellowship: Artificial Intelligence and Governance

Center for Science and Democracy

Union of Concerned Scientists

Remote position

Our organization

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is an independent nonprofit that puts rigorous, independent science into action, developing solutions and advocating for a healthy, safe, and just future. We envision a peaceful, healthy, and just world where science serves people and the planet by guiding policy decisions, reducing risks, and improving lives.

For over five decades, we have been working as scientists, engineers, economists, advocates, and everyday people to create and advocate for innovative, practical solutions to some of our planet's most pressing problems-from combating global warming and developing sustainable ways to feed, power, and transport ourselves, to fighting misinformation, advancing racial equity, and reducing the threat of nuclear war. Values informing our work include:

  • Science in the service of people and the planet.
  • Justice and Equity for people of all races and incomes-now, and for future generations.
  • Courage to take principled, science-based stands in the public arena.
  • Integrity to always examine evidence critically, openly, and honestly.
  • Democracy to promote a voice for all in government decisions.
  • Action inspiring and mobilizing people to build a healthier, safer, and more just world.

The Center for Science and Democracy in the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) seeks outstanding candidates for an Innovation Fellowship to create and lead a body of work to refine our understanding of the risks and benefits of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) on democratic governance and decision-making. This two-year fellowship is open to candidates who will have completed their Ph.D. or another advanced degree in a relevant field before September 2024, or those with equivalent experience.

At the Union of Concerned Scientists, we advance equitable science-based solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems, conduct rigorous technical analyses, and mobilize our supporters to build powerful coalitions, educate decision-makers, and advocate for change. The Center for Science and Democracy (CSD) will host this Innovation Fellow. CSD works to ensure equity and meaningful public participation continue to be at the core of our efforts. Vital local voices and ecological knowledge shape our research and advocacy because experience shows that the resulting solutions are fairer, more effective, and more enduring. Our ultimate aim is that the systems, structures, institutions, and practices that govern the American people, places, and environments are evidence-based and serve the broadest public good.


As an Innovation Fellow, you will work with UCS staff to develop a proposal for a two-year position that explores the potential risks and benefits of AI on democracy and decision-making structures. Justice & equity will be core to this work with a focus on ensuring that communities that are most impacted or at risk of the dangers of AI are at the governance decision-making table. Democracy will take front and center in this work as this project tackles the use of AI to promulgate disinformation, which can result in voices being lost in government decisions.

While the specifics of the project will be developed in collaboration with the chosen candidate, we envision that the fellow will conduct mixed-methods research in one, or more, of the following areas:

  • Combatting AI-Generated Disinformation in Elections: How might these technologies affect US elections systems and processes? What regulations are needed to protect our democracy from AI-generated mis- and misinformation? What is the role of the federal government and Congress to protect our democracy from the risks of AI?
  • Defending Scientific Integrity: How might scientific integrity be impacted by AI? What should federal agencies be aware of as they begin implementing their new scientific integrity policies? What guidance criteria should be adopted into the OSTP's scientific integrity framework on AI?
  • Advancing the Equity and justice Dimensions of AI: Who is most at risk of being impacted by generative AI tools and technologies? Are those most at-risk being invited to participate in government decision-making processes regarding AI? How can federal agencies better prioritize the needs of communities that will be most impacted by AI?

The Innovation Fellow will also coordinate with staff in other programs to create a collaborative cross-programmatic exchange on artificial intelligence at UCS.

Work could include literature reviews and other exploration of existing scientific work in the space, identifying priority, policy-relevant research questions on the risks and benefits of Generative Artificial Intelligence on democratic governance and decision-making, conducting robust quantitative or qualitative analyses of existing or new data, identification and facilitation of partnerships with external organizations in the field, building relationships with other researchers, developing educational materials/ programs for UCS constituents, supporting advocates in implementing scientific knowledge in their advocacy, organizing or participating in events and briefings on the project topics, working with advocates to develop policy and research recommendations, and carrying out new research and/or pilot projects related to these topics. The Innovation Fellow will also coordinate with staff in other programs to create a collaborative cross-programmatic exchange on artificial intelligence at UCS.

An important aspect of this role will be identifying ways to ensure the work is sustainable and able to be continued after the end of your Fellowship.


Qualifications and Experience

The ideal Innovation Fellow candidate would have a Ph.D. in the social sciences (public policy, psychology, political science, etc.) and expertise in artificial intelligence and governance, technology and democracy, or a similar field(s). Experience with science & public policy, disinformation, and/or federal policymaking is desirable. Candidates should have strong research skills, be able to identify key policy-relevant questions, and write and speak clearly for technical, policy, and non-technical audiences. Experience with rapid response communications, messaging, and/or community organizing is strongly preferred. An advanced degree or Ph.D. (or equivalent experience) in a relevant field must be completed before September 1, 2024.

An understanding of the inequities inherent in the scientific and policy fields is needed for this work. All candidates should have a demonstrated interest in Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, especially in science and advocacy.

You may spend extended periods at a computer. Depending on COVID-19 circumstances, occasional travel may be required. Your safety and the safety of others is our first priority.

UCS is an equal-opportunity employer continually seeking to diversify its staff. In particular, we're dedicated to broadening opportunities for individuals from demographic groups that are historically underrepresented in the sciences and in environmental advocacy. We're also committed to building an inclusive workplace culture where talented people of widely diverse backgrounds can thrive. We've adopted this commitment because we believe the inclusion of culturally diverse perspectives will improve our work and produce better societal and environmental outcomes for all, including historically disenfranchised communities. We are actively seeking people who bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives to join us in this work.

About the UCS Science Fellows Program

The UCS Science Fellows Program was established originally to honor Nobel Prize-winning physicist Henry Kendall who was with UCS from our beginnings and was the long-time chair of our board. Kendall was known for his unique ability to shake up the status quo and catalyze new thinking. Priority is given to innovative and forward-looking proposals that are primarily scientific, technical, or analytic but also show interest in the application of science to policy. Fellows will benefit from the opportunity to learn from the UCS approach to science and policy, and UCS will benefit from the new approaches and expertise of the Science Fellows.

More about the team

Our team is made up of a dedicated group of researchers, scientists, communicators, campaigners, and advocates from wide-ranging backgrounds and experiences. We are committed to building a diverse and inclusive team and a collaborative and supportive work environment where all staff can thrive. We continually strive to create an environment that is a welcoming place for the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, parents, empty-nesters, and people with a wide variety of interests and backgrounds.


A note on the pandemic: For in-office roles, UCS employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Employees are considered fully vaccinated as defined by the CDC. All new hires who will be reporting to an office location must provide notice of their vaccination status and vaccination documentation, on or before their first day of work. For all others, UCS strongly encourages full vaccinations among its employees, up to and including booster shots, even if working remotely. All new employees must comply with the mandatory vaccination requirements outlined in UCS policies as soon as practicable. Union of Concerned Scientists will notify candidates for employment of the requirements of this policy before the start of employment.

Compensation, Hours, and Location: This is a full-time, two-year position, with an expected start date in September 2024. Innovation Fellowship salaries follow a special structure and are between $80,530 to $101,930, depending on experience. UCS offers excellent benefits and a rewarding work environment. Information about UCS is available at

To Apply: We know some great candidates won't check all of these boxes, and we also know you might bring important skills that we haven't considered. If that's you, don't hesitate to apply and tell us about yourself. Comparable training and/or experience can be substituted for degrees when appropriate.

To apply, please upload a cover letter and resume. Upload materials in Word or PDF format only. No phone calls, please. In the cover letter, please confirm that the listed salary meets your expectations.

Following an initial screening, the candidate will develop a more specific fellowship proposal in cooperation with UCS staff and impacted community groups for submission to the Science Fellows Program Advisory Committee by April 15, 2024. The candidate and this proposal must be approved by the committee before the candidate can be officially hired and begin this position.

Deadline to Apply: February 9, 2024