Rubenstein Fellows Curriculum


This section covers the necessary background so that Fellows understand the administration of the Rubenstein Fellows program, including limitations and management of funds, training resources and responsibilities, and Fellows reporting requirements.

Administrative Setup and Funds Distribution

Most Rubenstein Fellows have their funds administered by CRDF Global . Soon after you confirm acceptance of your award, you will be contacted by CRDF to set up your funds account and stipend payments. These are made by direct deposit, on a monthly schedule. CRDF will also disburse funds for your materials and travel budget, if you have one in your proposal. Please check in with both the Fellows coordinator and your CRDF contact before planning travel or purchases from this budget.

Fellows that are affiliated with the Smithsonian during their EOL Fellows term will have their funds administered by the appropriate Smithsonian agency (for example, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, STRI, or National Museum of Natural History, NMNH). For Fellows administered through NMNH, all questions regarding your stipend and travel and equipment awards should be directed to Will Morrison in the Office of Fellowships. Fellows whose funds are administered by STRI should direct all questions regarding policies to Adriana Bilgray. The Smithsonian will require that you submit periodic reports; delays in submitting these can result in delays in funds disbursement. 

Regardless of the funds administration, Fellows funding will cover three items only: salary or stipend, equipment (if requested in the proposal budget) and travel (if requested in the proposal budget). Health and other benefits are not provided by the fellows program. 

Equipment and Travel

Questions about arranging for purchase or reimbursement of travel or equipment should initially be addressed to the Fellows coordinator. Your expenditure request should briefly describe the purchase and reference the budget justification in your proposal. Once your request has been approved (please allow 2-3 days for clarifying questions) you will receive instructions for arranging either reimbursement or purchase. Please plan well in advance, especially for air travel. Note that your total equipment and travel expenditures cannot exceed the amount specified in your award letter.

If your funds are managed by CRDF: the Fellow is responsible for booking travel and purchasing equipment; costs will be reimbursed after purchase. Equipment remains the property of the Fellow at the conclusion of the project.

If your funds are managed by the Smithsonian: travel can be booked for you, or you may book it yourself, within US government travel restrictions, and be reimbursed. Equipment can be purchased in two ways. If the purchase is made on the Fellow's behalf, by Smithsonian, it will be the property of the Smithsonian on loan to the Fellow for the duration of the project. If the purchase is made by the Fellow and reimbursed,  equipment remains the property of the Fellow at the conclusion of the project.

Getting Started

Once your administrative setup is complete, your next responsibility is to complete Fellows training. The bulk of that is right here in the Curriculum. You will be expected to read these materials and respond to the embedded questionnaires by the end of the first week of your active period. The Curriculum is intended to ensure that you are familiar with your responsibilities, and the tools, resources and options available to you as a Fellow.

A few words about the Curriculum: this document is intended for a generic Rubenstein Fellow; of course there's no such person. Each of your projects is positioned slightly differently relative to EOL. Nevertheless, most of the Curriculum does apply to you, as you're expected to be able to explain EOL in general terms, and some of our flagship products and features in detail, to audiences you meet in the course of your Fellowship. The chapters will certainly make sense in the order listed in the menu on the left, and probably also in any other order. All chapters are required. You will find a few sub-sections marked as optional, notably in the Contributing Content section, and you should feel free to skip these, for instance, as long as you're very familiar with the partner mechanism that you will be using. The Curriculum is also full of links, to the EOL Help pages and many outside locations. The required reading is generally on the first outside page you arrive at; you are not expected to explore all pages linked from it (and on and on until you've read the entire internet.) If there are particular sections and links you should read, these will be mentioned on the Curriculum page. You are certainly welcome to explore in more depth any of the resources you visit. I hope that when you're finished the Curriculum, you'll have found a number of resources that you'll use or send people to later. The Curriculum will be here afterwards if you need it for reference, or for retracing your steps to something.

Once you have completed the Curriculum, the Fellows coordinator will contact you to schedule a planning meeting by phone or Skype, to discuss your choice of content partner or platform for content creation, your available resources, your content creation, outreach, and recruiting strategies, and the expected timeline of your project. 

You will continue to meet online with EOL staff, individually and in groups of your fellow Fellows, throughout your project to be introduced to EOL resources and to discuss topics of concern as they arise. These meetings may be called by the Fellows coordinator; as a current Fellow, you are also welcome to propose a discussion or request a training session online. You will be advised when these sessions are mandatory; depending on your activities and the tools you are using, not all will apply to you. Mandatory sessions will be repeated to accommodate Fellows in different timezones.

Communication and tracking progress

The easiest way to demonstrate progress on your Fellows project is to ensure that you are registered with EOL for all your activities as early as possible. You should be registered as an EOL curator before the start of your project. You should be contributing content through a registered EOL Content Partner as early as possible in your term. You may have elected to contribute via an existing content partner; in this case you are all set. If you decided to use a LifeDesk or Scratchpad, or an independent web resource of your own, you should register as a content partner and have this resource connected to EOL as early as possible. If you will be contributing through an online resource which you do not own and has not yet been connected to EOL, then you are responsible for working with the owner of that resource to ensure that they are registered and connected to EOL. All of your activity on EOL as a curator, and your contributions through your chosen Content Partner, are publicly visible and can be tracked.

Any activity in which you engage on behalf of EOL in addition to content creation should also be reported. This can include travel to meetings, other public outreach, recruitment of curators, contributors to your project, or other Content Partners. It is helpful to advise EOL staff of these activities as early as possible, in case they can assist with technical advice, by sending outreach materials, or by putting you in touch with other contacts who may be interested in or relevant to your activity. If you're not sure whom to contact, check with the Fellows coordinator. At the end of every quarter, (late January, April, July and October) you will be asked to summarize this activity in a brief quarterly report. Any content creation activity that cannot yet be tracked via EOL should also be included in the quarterly report.

Fellows are expected to communicate with the EOL community, including staff, other Fellows, curators and other users. As soon as possible after the public introduction of your Fellows cohort, you should join the Rubenstein Fellows Community on EOL and any other Communities that match your interests. If you have a question or an idea about your project or EOL in general, you are encouraged to post it publicly to stimulate discussion. More on what is expected of Fellows will follow in the next chapter.

Fellows that are neither demonstrating progress nor communicating effectively with EOL staff about their situation may have their funding withheld.

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