Brian McAllister Linn
at University of Birmingham

Meet Our Fulbrighters »

University of Birmingham Distinguished Chair Award


Applications for the 2017-2018 academic year are now open

Application deadline: 1 August 2016

Each year, one award is offered to a US citizen to contribute to the intellectual life of the University of Birmingham through seminars, public lectures and curriculum development in any discipline.  The University has recently launched two major cross-college initiatives that would provide an Institutional home for the Chair - the Institute of Advances Studies (IAS), which aims to promote cross-disciplinary research, and the new Liberal Arts and Sciences degree programme. The capacity to steer and contribute to these interdisciplinary research and teaching activities would therefore be an advantage. The appointment will be for a period of 6 months beginning at any point from 1 August to 30 April. Candidates will be selected by the Fulbright Commission and the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) to receive a grant to be used towards related travel and maintenance costs.


Read on for more information about the benefits of the Fulbright-University of Birmingham Distinguished Chair Award, eligibility and selection criteria, the application process and timeline. We also provide profiles of current and past scholars, as well as a list of FAQs, to help you learn more about the Fulbright Programme.



Fulbright Awards offer generous financial support for academic projects in the UK. However, Fulbright is much more than a grant – we offer scholars the opportunity to have a transformative cultural and educational experience and provide unrivalled support both during and after their Fulbright year.

The award is for £27,500 plus £1000 towards return economy airfare, and accommodation. The grant is paid in instalments directly to the grantee, the first of which is typically given upon arrival in the UK. This funding is intended as a contribution towards any institutional fees, travel to/from the UK, and general maintenance costs while in the UK. Candidates usually arrange to receive sabbatical pay while away to meet any additional expenses.

Limited sickness and accident benefit coverage is also included.

Additionally Distinguished Chairs in the UK are invited to participate in a wide range of events, and benefit from a variety of additional opportunities provided by the Fulbright Commission. Staff members guide successful grantees through the UK visa application process and assist them with opening UK bank accounts. An annual 3-day Orientation takes place in mid-September; a 4 day Fulbright Forum highlights a specific place or region of the UK each January (Manchester in 2016); and a farewell ‘End-cap’ is planned around the last week of June (Stirling in 2015). Distinguished Chairs also benefit from free institutional memberships with The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA), The National Trust/The Royal Oak Foundation and The English-Speaking Union (ESU) and are invited to participate as a judge in the Institute of Ideas Debating Matters competition. Chairs are encouraged to deliver a free public lecture at the prestigious Gresham College (est. 1597) in London. Chairs are provided with a UK alumni mentor and the Commission seeks to introduce visiting US Chairs to relevant senior/high-profile contacts in the UK.

Depending on the timing of the visit, Distinguished Chairs may also be able to attend the annual EU/NATO conference held in Belgium, the annual Fulbright Workshop in Berlin, and/or the Fulbright Northern Ireland Interchanges Seminar. Additionally, Distinguished Chairs may have the opportunity to meet with contacts in other EU countries under the Inter-Country Lecturing Programme held jointly amongst the European Fulbright Commissions.

Grantees also receive a free Elsevier scholar support package, which includes access to the entire suite of SciVerse products (ScienceDirect, Scopus, Applications), subject-specific databases (Embase, Compendex, BrainNavigator, Reaxys), and a wide range of online journals (including The Lancet).

While the Fulbright-University of Birmingham Distinguished Chair Award is 6 months in length, the benefits do not end there. Receiving a Fulbright Award opens many doors and provides unparalleled global networking opportunities. Over 300,000 global Fulbright Awards have been given since the Programme’s inception, and alumni have the opportunity to stay engaged through our extensive alumni networks, including the UK Fulbright alumni network. Alumni also remain connected to the Programme through on-going social and cultural events, volunteer opportunities, mentoring schemes and much more.


Selection Criteria

The Fulbright Awards Programme is looking not only for academic excellence but also:

•    demonstrable ambassadorial skills with evidence of cultural sensitivity and a genuine desire to learn more about the United Kingdom and share with British citizens aspects of American culture, 

•    experience and interest in a range of extracurricular and community activities, 

•    leadership potential, and

•    a desire to further the Fulbright Programme and give back to your home country upon returning.

The Distinguished Chair Awards are designed for eminent scholars with substantial experience and publications in their respective fields.

Selection committees and the interview panels will also be looking for clear reasons for selecting your UK university preference. As a publicly-funded organisation, the Fulbright Awards Programme expects candidates to conduct a thorough university search and to identify institutions which are a strong fit for their academic, personal and professional goals.


Fulbright-University of Birmingham Distinguished Chairs will:

have an international reputation as a leading researcher in their field, with a proven record in public engagement and, ideally, an interest in interdisciplinary collaboration.

       be open to participating in ongoing collaboration: for example, by developing long-term research projects with Birmingham academics; providing a nexus for research connections with our other strategic territories (Brazil, India, China); facilitating international funding bids such as UKIERI’s Trilateral Partnership Scheme.

come from any academic discipline across the broad range of research and teaching activity at the University of Birmingham. Given the emphasis on Public Engagement, the University would encourage prospective Chairs to consider the ways in which their work might relate to:


o    Our unique cultural heritage assets, including:

§  the world-renowned Shakespeare Institute, based in Stratford-upon-Avon  and working in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company and  the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust;

§  the interdisciplinary Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural  Heritage, based at the World Heritage site and working in partnership with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.


o    Areas of academic research shaped by public debate, government policy and/or industry consultation where transatlantic expertise will have measurable impact value, such as:

§  Nuclear energy and nuclear safety: The Birmingham Centre for Nuclear Education and Research;

§  High speed railways and urban systems: The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education;

§  Environmental Genomics and its applications to environmental and human health protection: Birmingham’s developing Environmental Systems Biology Institute.


Minimum eligibility for this Award category:

•    US citizen* (resident anywhere except the United Kingdom), and

•    hold a PhD (or equivalent professional training or experience) in a relevant area before departure to the UK.

As our aim is to foster cultural understanding between the US and UK, some preference will be given to applicants who do not have extensive experience in the UK (6 months). If this applies to you, we still encourage you to apply and explain in your application how further experience in the UK will fulfil the Fulbright mission and not be a duplication of prior visits. 

Please read the Terms and Conditions and FAQs for this Award before making an application. 

Awards are not available for peripatetic visits or attendance at conferences only, or for projects based outside of the United Kingdom. 

*UK nationals and those resident in the UK may not apply in this Award category. Dual US-UK citizens are eligible to apply in this Award category, however, some preference will be given to those without extensive experience of the UK.




Applicants must draw up a detailed project outline and provide written evidence that the University of Birmingham will agree to act as host. Applicants should identify and make contact with whom they wish to work. Preference will be given to applications that contain an element of outreach or community work. Whether lecturing, consulting on course design/curriculum or researching, the specifics of this arrangement should be worked out directly with the University of Birmingham. The grant year is from September until August, but the successful applicant must begin the grant between 1 September and 30 April. The Distinguished Chair will be expected to develop a long-term link between their home institution and the University of Birmingham. 

Applications are made online through the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES). You will be able to log in and out of your application account and will not be required to complete the application in one sitting.

The online application facilitated by CIES is used by Fulbright Commissions worldwide and each Commission sets its own policies and procedures with country-specific information for making an application for a Fulbright Award in their country. It is imperative that you read the Terms and Conditions on this website before submitting your application.

Applicants should review the FAQs before submitting an application. 

Successful shortlisted applicants will be invited for telephone interviews with the Fulbright Commission on the date(s) listed below. Interviews will be held on the indicated date(s) only and may not be rescheduled.

Proposals must receive endorsement from the University of Birmingham, which the Fulbright Commission will seek on behalf of successful applicants.



1 February - Competition opens, applications available at CIES
1 August - Application deadline
November - January - Applications evaluated, short-listed candidates invited to interview Mid January - Telephone Interviews
March - Notification
April-June - Fulbright scholar paperwork preparation
Early August - Late April - Independent arrival, participation in Orientation and the Fulbright Forum events in London, your Fulbright Year begins!