Deadline for application: December 12, 2014

The U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria is now accepting applications for six Summer 2015 Study of the U.S. Institutes for multinational groups of experienced university faculty, scholars, and other related professionals. The program will take place at various colleges, universities, and institutions throughout the United States over the course of six weeks beginning in or after June 2015.  Each Institute includes a four week academic residency component and up to two weeks of an integrated study tour. Information about last year’s Institutes can be found here:

Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars are intensive post-graduate level academic programs with integrated study tours whose purpose is to provide foreign university faculty and other scholars the opportunity to deepen their understanding of U.S. society, culture, values, and institutions.  The ultimate goal of these Institutes is to strengthen curricula and to enhance the quality of teaching about the United States in academic institutions abroad.

This year institute themes are:

  • Contemporary American Literature

The Institute will provide a multinational group of up to 18 foreign university faculty and scholars with a deeper understanding of U.S. society and culture, past and present, through an examination of contemporary American (U.S.) literature.  Its purpose is twofold: to explore contemporary American writers and writing in a variety of genres; and to suggest how the themes explored in those works reflect larger currents within contemporary U.S. society and culture.  The program will explore the diversity of the American literary landscape, examining how major contemporary writers, schools, and movements reflect the traditions of the U.S. literary canon.  At the same time, the program will expose participants to writers who represent a departure from that tradition, and who are establishing new directions for American literature.  


  • Journalism and Media

The Institute will provide a multinational group of 18 journalism instructors and other related specialists with a deeper understanding of the roles that journalism and the media play in U.S. society.  The Institute will examine the rights and responsibilities of the media in a democratic society, including editorial independence, journalistic ethics, legal constraints, international journalism, and media business models.  The Institute will cover strategies for teaching students of journalism the basics of the tradecraft: researching, reporting, writing, and editing.  The program will also highlight technology’s impact on journalism, such as the influence of the internet, the globalization of the news media, the growth of satellite television and radio networks, and other changes in media that are transforming the profession.


  • Religious Pluralism in the United States

The Institute will provide a multinational group of up to 18 foreign university faculty and practitioners with a deeper understanding of U.S. society and culture, past and present, through an examination of religious pluralism in the United States and its intersection with American democracy.  Employing a multi-disciplinary approach and drawing on fields such as history, political science, sociology, anthropology, law, and others, the program will explore both the historical and contemporary relationship between church and state in the United States.  Participants will examine the following aspects of religious pluralism in the United States: the ways in which religious thought and practice have influenced, and been influenced by, the development of American-style democracy; the intersections of religion and politics in the United States in such areas as elections, public policy, and foreign policy; and the sociology and demography of religion in the United States today, including a survey of the diversity of contemporary religious beliefs and its impact on American politics and society.

U.S. Culture and Society

The Institute will provide a multinational group of 18 experienced and highly-motivated foreign university faculty and other specialists with a deeper understanding of U.S. society, culture, values, and institutions.  The Institute will examine the ethnic, racial, social, economic, political, and religious contexts in which various cultures have manifested themselves in U.S. society while focusing on the ways in which these cultures have influenced social movements and American identity throughout U.S. history.  The program will draw from a diverse disciplinary base, and will itself provide a model of how a foreign university might approach the study of U.S. culture and society.

U.S. Foreign Policy

The Institute will provide a multinational group of 18 experienced foreign university faculty and practitioners with a deeper understanding of how contemporary U.S. foreign policy is formulated and implemented.  The Institute will include a historical review of significant events, individuals, and philosophies that have shaped U.S. foreign policy.  The Institute will explain the role of key players in U.S. foreign policy including the executive and legislative branches of government, the media, the U.S. public, think-tanks, non-governmental organizations, and multilateral institutions.

U.S. Political Thought

The Institute on U.S. Political Thought will provide a multinational group of 18 experienced foreign university faculty and practitioners with a deeper understanding of major currents in U.S. political thought from the colonial period to the present.  It will explore the shaping of American identity and the intersection and interplay between that identity and U.S. history and politics.  It will cover a broad range of American experiences that have shaped and been shaped by our national identity including, but not limited to, the colonial period, the constitutional founding, the Civil War, industrialization, the Great Depression, the Cold War, and the Civil Rights movement. The Institute will also use this lens to explore contemporary U.S. political and social debates and topics relating them back to the formation and development of U.S. political thought.



All participant costs will be covered. Typically, participants will have a private room with a shared bathroom during the residency portion (four weeks) of the institute, and will share a hotel room during the study tour (up to two weeks). Housing will typically be in college or university owned housing. Most meals will be provided at campus facilities, though participants may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals on their own. 

Applicants will be expected to participate fully in the program. They are expected to attend all lectures and organized activities, and complete assigned readings. Family members and/or friends cannot accompany participants on any part of the program. Please note that teaching methodology and pedagogical methods will not be addressed formally in the institute. Applicants should be aware that they are applying for an intensive institute and there will be little time for personal pursuits unrelated to the program. The institute should not be viewed as a research program.



Study of the U.S. Institutes are highly competitive. Priority will be given to candidates who have firm plans to enhance, update or develop courses and/or educational materials with a U.S. studies focus or component; who have no prior or limited experience in the United States; and who have special interest in the program subject areas as demonstrated through past scholarship, accomplishments, and professional duties.  English Language fluency is required.

Candidates should be mid-career, typically between the ages of 30-50, highly-motivated and experienced scholars and professionals generally from institutions of higher education or research focused organizations (not-for-profits, think tanks, etc.). While the educational level of participants will likely vary, most should have graduate degrees and have substantial knowledge of the thematic area of the Institute or a related field. 

Ideal candidates are individuals whose home institution is seeking to introduce aspects of U.S. studies into its curricula, to develop new courses in the subject of the Institute, to enhance and update existing courses on the United States, or to offer specialized seminars/workshops for professionals in U.S. studies areas related to the program theme. While the nominee's scholarly and professional credentials are an important consideration, the potential impact and multiplier effect of the Institute is equally important. Ideal candidates will have little or no prior experience in the United States.

Applicant Statement: In order to get a better sense of potential participants' motivations and goals, the US Embassy requests that each applicant provide a strong candidate statement that should convey why the participant is interested in participating in the particular Institute, what s/he expects to gain from the experience, and what s/he will bring to the program. Most importantly candidate statements should describe the candidate's capacity and plans to keep the impact of the Institute beyond their own knowledge and research. 

In order to apply, please submit the completed Application Form and the Essay by December 12, 2014 via e-mail to:
Vanya Ivanova
Cultural Affairs Assistant
Public Affairs Section
Tel: +359 2 937 5186

NB Only short-listed applicants will be contacted. Interviews will be held the week of January 5, 2015.