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William Plowden Fellowship

William Plowden Fellowship in Good Governance

The William Plowden Fellowship started in 2012. Throughout his career William believed strongly in the need to improve the way we are governed, at all levels. He proposed practical approaches to public policy, sensitive to the needs and experiences of real people. At this time of change and challenge across the political and social scene the Fellowship will build on his legacy. It will enable one outstanding mid-career professional each year to explore the implications of the theme of good governance in public policy and come up with positive ideas for new approaches in his or her field.

William Plowden, who died in 2010, began his career as a civil servant, was a founding member of the Central Policy Review Staff and later Director-General of the Royal Institute of Public Administration and Executive Director of the UK Harkness Fellowships.

Aims and objectives of the Fellowship

The overarching theme for the Fellowship will be the role of good governance in supporting innovation and achieving positive social impacts, reflecting William Plowden’s work. The Fellows will challenge the ways in which the system works and inject new ideas into the debate.

The Fellowship will support individuals with a substantial record of achievement in a relevant area. Althought there is normally no stipend, reasonable expenses will be paid. The Fellowship will be open to applicants from the United Kingdom, but the chosen topic may range more widely. Fellows will usually come from the public or voluntary sector, but anyone in the private sector who can make similar arrangements for paid temporary release is eligible to apply. Fellows will have time away from their day job to focus on an idea they want to explore and see applied more widely.

Employers will allow high achieving individuals a short paid sabbatical, recognising the potential benefits to their organisation, and, more widely, of disseminating the outcomes of the Fellow’s work.

A number of organisations including academic institutions and think tanks support the scheme, and are willing to host and mentor a Fellow whose research could afford a fruitful cross-fertilisation with their own work. Hosts for the first year were the London School of Economics, Department of Government, and the Third Sector Research Centre.

How the Fellowship will work

Each year:

  • The Fellowship will be advertised, and a Fellow selected based on a short submission and an interview, in collaboration with a host institution, depending on the theme and the topic proposed by the candidate
  • The successful candidate will, during a three-month sabbatical, explore and develop his or her idea, with research and administrative support agreed in advance with the host institution
  • The annual Fellowship will culminate in a high-profile lecture delivered to an audience of policy makers and opinion formers
  • The lecture and final report will be published on line and in any relevant journal.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations will provide administrative support for the advisory group and the recruitment of Fellows, and manage and promote the lecture.

Apply for the 2017 Fellowship

There is no standard form for applicants for the Fellowship. Candidates should set out their proposed project with supporting justification, confirming their availability for the three month period and arrangements for release, on not more than two pages of A4, font size 12, accompanied by a CV and names of two referees, one of whom should be their current employer.

Before writing your application, please read the briefing note for applicants (pdf, 200KB) and its appendix (pdf, 200KB).

Completed applications should be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Closing date is 13 January 2017, interviews will take place in Feburary 2017 and tenure will start in the spring.

Reports and papers



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