Tim Ferriss and Michael Pollan Team Up to Launch UC Berkeley Psychedelic Journalism Fellowship
Tim Ferriss and Michael Pollan Team Up to Launch UC Berkeley Psychedelic Journalism Fellowship

Journalists play an important role in educating the public about psychedelics and the role they could play in addressing a variety of unmet medical needs. Thanks to podcaster and author Tim Ferriss and writer Michael Pollan, a new fellowship at the University of California (UC) Berkeley will support journalists to report on this evolving space with credibility and accuracy. 

An $800,000 donation over three years by Ferriss’ Texas-based non-profit, the Saisei Foundation, to UC Berkeley’s new Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP) will create the Ferriss – UC Berkeley Psychedelic Journalism Fellowship. This fellowship is designed for early and mid-career journalists reporting on the science, business, policy, and culture of psychedelics for mainstream print and audio news outlets. Grants will range from $5000 to $15,000, with the aim of nurturing a new generation of journalists to cover the frontlines of the rapidly evolving psychedelics field.

The fellowship will be modeled on the UC Berkeley – 11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowships program, aimed at early and mid-career journalists and established in 2013 with a grant from the 11th Hour Project.  It will be overseen by Pollan, author of How to Change Your Mind which explores the resurgence of psychedelics, a long-time faculty member at Berkeley Journalism, and co-founder of the BCSP – a broad and interdisciplinary center that incorporates the diverse expertise of neuroscientists, psychologists, psychologists, educators, and journalists.

“As the field of psychedelics explodes, we’re going to need sophisticated journalism to provide the public with reliable information and the field with accountability,” Pollan said while announcing the fellowship. “The Ferriss Fellowship will help the Graduate School of Journalism to support young journalists working in this area, which in turn will hasten the establishment as an important and vibrant journalistic beat.”

Ferriss added: “If you want to bend the arc of history, long-form and investigative journalism is one of the best contemporary tools that we have. The Cambrian explosion of psychedelic medicine brings with it both incredible promise and incredible complexity.”

“Dedicated journalists are needed to help separate fact from fiction, hold people accountable, and much more. Michael Pollan is the perfect person to spearhead this ambitious fellowship, and I am grateful to be involved.”

Applications for the fellowships open on December 1, and they will be accepted twice annually, on January 31 and July 31. Applicants will be required to submit a well-research story pitch, a budget estimate, three published or aired work samples, a resume, and two letters of reference. A letter from a media outlet expressing interest in publishing or airing a story will improve an applicant’s chance of receiving a grant.

Fellows will be chosen by a panel of working editors and journalists. The program states that it is committed to supporting journalists from diverse backgrounds and of all nationalities. “We’re looking for big, underreported, narratively compelling stories placed in rich political, economic, scientific, and cultural contexts,” it said.

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