Support and Train Emerging Faith Leaders

Odyssey Fellows Program

Applications for the 2023-2024 Cohort will open early 2023

The Odyssey Fellows program equips emerging faith leaders to convene brave and healing conversations on challenging civic issues across lines of difference by leveraging the power of media and film.

Odyssey Impact® is pleased to announce a new fellowship opportunity for emerging faith leaders for the 2022-23 academic year. This year’s cohort will represent emerging leaders across multiple faith traditions and international contexts.

Each Odyssey Fellowship includes the following programmatic components:

  • $2,000 stipend for academic year 2022-23, paid through the Fellow’s educational institution (seminary contextual education dept. or similar).

  • Participation in an international cohort of colleagues working as reconcilers and bridge-builders across lines of difference from diverse faith perspectives, engaging challenging civic issues, with ongoing opportunities as “Fellows Alum” in the future.

  • Mentorship and project development that align with each Fellow’s existing academic and vocational commitments (e.g. field education placements and contracts, internships, etc.).

  • Specialized training for leading difficult conversations across lines of differences with trauma-informed approaches to media use and dialogue facilitation, including reconciliation skills.

  • $1,000 available for student projects in collaboration with Odyssey and the Fellow’s educational institution (seminary or other).

  • Three in-person cohort experiences (all travel & lodging expenses included)

Applicants will propose a “rough draft” of a potential project that could be completed in the 2022-23 academic year in the applicant’s context. This proposed project would allow the applicant to lead a brave and healing conversation, across lines of difference on a challenging civic issue by leveraging the power of documentary film. 

Who is eligible to apply to be an Odyssey Fellow?

This year’s expanded scope allows for emerging faith leaders of any faith tradition to apply. The applicant may be at any age or life stage, but must be in an educational program preparing them to lead as a faith-formed community leader. Odyssey Fellows are leaders in houses of worship, as well as, secular contexts, convening community dialogue in some form. The strongest applicants will have familiarity with the community in which they will serve in 2022-23, and will effectively articulate the particular challenges facing that community. Strong English language proficiency and a passport valid for international travel are required. This year, we are interested in expanding outside the United States, particularly to emerging faith leaders in the U.K. and Egypt.

What makes a strong candidate?

The strongest candidates for Odyssey Fellowships will demonstrate a deep desire to develop skills in reaching across divides within or between communities. They will exhibit passion for and experience in ministry, in  faith or secular settings related to  justice issues that connect in some way with one or more of Odyssey Impact®’s documentary films. The successful candidate will propose an innovative, yet achievable project to be completed in the 2022-23 academic year  that complement existing academic and vocational commitments, and will show interest in using film to create the opportunity for dialogue, new partnerships and faithful action. Students need to be in  their second academic program year or further to  be considered.

What if I am being trained/educated outside of a theological education (seminary) Institution?

The Odyssey Fellows program partners with internships, residencies, field/contextual education departments within theological educational institutions. Alternative arrangements and flexibility will be considered for students outside the U.S., and for students within non-Christian institutions.

How can candidates view Odyssey Impact® films?

We invite candidates to view trailers for all films across Odyssey Impact®’s catalog. Contact Dr. Lea Schweitz (lea@odyssey-impact.org) if, after watching any of the trailers, you would like to view the entire film. Odyssey Impact® specializes in presenting award-winning films, accompanied by toolkits and expert staff support to assist with screenings and events that help leaders and communities affect change on civic issues of concern.

Click here to read film synopses

Click here to view sampler playlist from Odyssey Impact® film catalogue

Application Instructions

  1. Write a 2-3 page essay on why you chose to apply for the Odyssey Fellowship. Listyour vocational goals, your particular skills for ministry, and the things you would like to practice, experience, and learn through the internship; the specific issues related to “brave and healing conversations” that you intend to explore; how this relates to any of the issues uplifted in Odyssey’s film catalog, and how this will deepen your leadership abilities. Essays should be written in 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced with 1” margins on all four sides.
  2. Current CV included.
  3. Name of one faculty member who can serve as a reference.
  4. Name the site supervisor who can serve as a reference.
  5. Submit materials via email by 12 noon EST on Friday, May 6, 2022, to fellows@odyssey-impact.org. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Questions may be directed to Dr. Lea Schweitz, Director of Religion and Civic Engagement at Odyssey: lea@odyssey-impact.org.

Click here to read film synopses

Click here to view sampler playlist from Odyssey Impact® film catalogue

Please contact lea@odyssey-impact.org if you would like to view full versions of the films.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this a filmmaking internship?

No, though Odyssey Impact® encourages emerging faith leaders to be media makers, this fellowship equips emerging leaders for fluency in using film for the purposes of healing and growth, while convening conversations on difficult civic issues across lines of difference.

Does the Odyssey Fellowship count as a field/contextual education placement, or as an internship?

No, the Odyssey Impact® Fellowship is more like a “booster pack” for your context in the coming academic year. Odyssey does NOT place you at a field/contextual education site or an internship. Instead, we seek to enhance the experience of the work you will do there, for both you and the community where you will serve. The $2,000 stipend is additional financial support for each Fellow as a student, and does not replace any compensation the Fellow is already receiving.

How much extra work/time commitment is the Odyssey Fellowship?

The Odyssey Fellowship does not require much additional time outside of what you’ll already be doing at your contextual/field education site, beyond the required three in-person convenings (UK, Egypt, and Atlanta, Ga). Instead, Odyssey seeks to offer valuable support and training to students working at sites that would benefit from increased fluency in engaging media, and in convening conversations on difficult civic issues across lines of difference.

Is this program meant for people serving houses of worship (congregations), or for people serving elsewhere?

Both! Odyssey is excited to receive applications from a wide range of applicants, serving in faith-based or secular communities in which skilled, sensitive facilitation of some sort of community conversation (rather than providing individual spiritual care) is needed.

Is this program meant only for people who identify as “progressive” or “liberal” within their faith tradition?

No interfaith or multi faith experience is required, nor necessarily preferred; The Odyssey Fellows program is intended to support a truly diverse cohort, reflecting a range of experiences and perspectives, including those emerging faith leaders without interfaith/multifaith exposure.

What do you mean by “difficult civic issues”? Which issues and which “lines of difference?

For the purposes of this program, a difficult civic issue is any topic of public importance that is experienced in a particular context as divisive. For example, racial justice might be a hotly divisive topic for one context, but in another context, it’s private prisons, political polarities, or immigration. Similarly, a “line of difference” is highly contextual: religious tradition, political identity, race, sexual/gender identity, etc. The “lines of difference” can be within the community you serve, or between your community and another community (for instance, your congregation and another congregation can span a “line of difference”).

Are Odyssey Fellows limited to using only documentary films from Odyssey’s catalog?

Certainly not! Odyssey will choose candidates proposing projects at sites which would clearly benefit from the opportunities afforded by a screening of one of Odyssey’s films. However, the Odyssey Fellows program is about the formation of media-fluent faith leaders engaging tough civic topics. We’re excited to help Fellows heal communities, lead well, and affect change. We encourage the use of films that fit the context and the need, whether they be from Odyssey’s extensive library or some other source.

Where is the website on which I complete my application?

Instead of a website application, applicants assemble the required components per the instructions within the Fellows 2022-23 Program Announcement. Please allow enough time to adequately think through your proposed project, and discuss with the person who will supervise you at your site next year!

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