Zolberg IRC Fellowships: Mental Health

  • Spring
  • New York
  • This position has been filled

Website International Rescue Committee

The Zolberg Institute is pleased to open applications to join the Spring 2019 cohort of Zolberg – IRC Fellows. The deadline to apply is December 31, 2018. Please submit a cover letter, CV and three work samples (writing and/or design portfolio) as one single PDF to Cayce Pack <packc@newschool.edu> with the position for which you are applying clearly in the subject line. 

Team: Airbel

Project Aim: IRC’s innovation team, Airbel, is conducting early stage research on a potential innovative approach to providing mental health and psychosocial support services to displaced communities. The initial need was identified through recognition that people experiencing displacement are at a greater risk for common mental health disorders due to a complex interaction of causes across the arc of displacement. Displacement exacerbates both poverty and mental health issues, which are known to interact in a negative cycle, each in turn further amplifying the other. People experiencing displacement are also less likely to access mental health services than the general population due to issues in both supply (low availability of mental health services) and demand (stigmatization of mental health issues).

Airbel is seeking to design a new approach to addressing this gap by leveraging emergent evidence and design methodologies to develop a scalable, integrated solution that addresses both mental health and economic opportunity. After conducting an initial phase of scoping and desk research, the team is moving towards a user-centered design process in which field insights and technical best practice are brought together to refine the program model and develop an initial prototype of a solution. The fellow will be a key part of this team, working at the intersection of design and innovation processes and mental health research, with opportunities to interact with IRC colleagues across a range of disciplines in headquarters and field offices.


  • Desk reviews (landscaping, evidence reviews)
  • Scoping for field-based design research (research plan and tool identification, interview protocols)
  • Synthesis of findings of field research and concrete recommendations for prototype intervention

Potential travel involved: Likely, to take part in initial field visit to deepen understanding of problem space and kick off solution design process

Student skill sets sought:  Specific sectoral knowledge or expertise (mental health and psychosocial support); Design thinking, research, and strategy; behavioral science;

IRC staff mentor: Karen Tan and Logan Cummings

As with all Zolberg IRC Fellowships, Fellows will have the opportunity to work on research, policy communications, and applied innovation projects in areas like migration & protection, education in emergencies, and creative applications of technology or finance to solve grand humanitarian challenges.

Fellows will benefit from the mentorship of the Zolberg leadership—humanitarian professionals from the UNHCR and UNICEF— and the opportunity to work alongside specialists at the New York headquarters of the International Rescue Committee.

Fellows will develop discrete skills (human centered design, behavioral science, machine learning) with the potential for travel and field work to IRC’s 25 domestic offices and 30+ country programs. Fellows will participate in regular knowledge exchange with the Zolberg Institute community. Fellows will also gain access to the ever-growing Zolberg Fellows alumni network, with opportunities to present on work, gain collaborations and connections, and project funding.

This is an excellent opportunity for early career scholars, future humanitarian leaders, transdisciplinary designers, and others to bridge theory and practice and turn ideas into action.