frequently asked questions

Whether you're curious about our curriculum, application process, or the values that guide us, you'll find the information you need right here. If you don't see your question listed, feel free to reach out to us directly. We're here to help you embark on a journey toward a more meaningful and morally ambitious life.

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Moral Ambition Fellowships are an opportunity to radically transform your career and be prepared to contribute at the highest level to urgent global issues. The fellowship is a seven-month program, including a one-month intensive training that sharpens you into an effective advocate for positive change, followed by a six-month placement at a leading NGO or think tank working in the field of Tobacco Control or Food Transition.

The topics of the inaugural fellowships are Tobacco Control and the Food Transition. These areas are critical to public health and sustainable living, and the fellowships focus on creating impactful change within these sectors.

The topics were chosen through an extensive research process using the Impact-Neglectedness-Tractability framework, supplemented by assessing whether a small cohort of talented individuals could make a significant impact. These topics were identified as both urgent and actionable, where focused efforts could lead to meaningful change.

Fellows may work on a variety of projects depending on their background, including writing evidence-based studies and position papers, engaging with policymakers, preparing for lawsuits, or networking to further their careers post-fellowship.

The success of the fellowships is measured by the impact of the projects fellows work on, their professional development during the program, and their continued contribution to their respective fields after the fellowship.

The fellowship lasts for seven months, starting on September 1 and ending on April 1. Fellows are expected to commit at least 32 hours per week, ideally full time. Full time commitment (40h per week) is required for the training period in September.

Our fellowship is unique in a few aspects: 1) it focuses on lowering the barrier of career shifting towards impactful job sectors for mid career professionals, 2) it uses a targeted focus on one specific global challenge per program with a well researched theory of change, and 3) it builds on existing policy infrastructure with pre-selected host organizations that enable you to have direct impact and to build relevant career capital for a career switch.

Fellows are encouraged to share their work, such as through articles for newspapers or other publications, as part of their fellowship activities.

No, the fellowship will run from September 1st 2024 until April 1st 2025

By the end of the program, fellows are expected to have developed comprehensive skills in advocacy, made substantial contributions to their field, and prepared a foundation for a career focused on making a difference in global issues related to their fellowship topic area.

Fellows are well positioned to continue their careers in the fields of Tobacco Control, Food Transition, or related areas, using the skills and networks developed during the fellowship. Host Organizations are eager for new talent and will help our fellows launch their new career after the placement, either within the Host Organization or their network.

We will start our research process afresh in summer 2024 to pick the topics for next year’s fellowships. It could be that different topics will be added or that we will continue with Tobacco Control and the Food Transition as our main programs.

This year's cohorts of host organizations are currently being finalized. At this moment we can communicate the following Host Organizations

Tobacco Control Fellowships

  • Vital Strategies - Tobacco Control Program
  • Global Alliance for Tobacco Control
  • Smoke Free Partnership

Food Transition Fellowship

  • Agora Agriculture
  • BirdLife International - Europe and Central Asia
  • Good Food Institute Europe
  • The Institute for European Environmental Policy
  • Madre Brava
  • Seas at Risk
  • Cellular Agriculture Europe
  • Physician Association for Nutrition International
  • #SustainableFoundations

The fellowship program carefully matches fellows with host organizations to ensure alignment of goals and skills. Fellows are integrated into their teams with planned orientations and are supported throughout their placement to maximize both their impact and their learning experience.

During their six-month placement, fellows receive continuous support from their host organization and the fellowship program. This includes professional guidance, mentorship, and regular cohort meetings to discuss progress and share learnings.

Yes, fellows receive a career transition grant of €3.6k gross (the Dutch modal pay) per month, for seven months, to support their participation in the fellowship. For more affluent participants, it is possible to waive (part of the) transition grant.

The career transition grant will be subject to Dutch income tax.

Fellows receive a career transition grant of up to the Dutch modal salary of EUR 3.6k gross per month, financial assistance in case of temporary relocation, professional guidance, and the opportunity to work on impactful projects at influential NGOs or think tanks. They also gain invaluable networking opportunities and one month of skill training that prepare them for continued careers in their chosen fields.

The fellowships primarily take place in Brussels, where fellows are placed at NGOs or think tanks. Some travel may be involved depending on the project requirements. A limited number of placements could take place in a hybrid remote/on location structure. A small number of placements are in different EU capitals like Berlin or Geneva. During September, training will take place in The Netherlands and Brussels.

We will financially and logistically support temporary relocation to your placement location. We are also exploring options for shared housing for our fellows.

Fellows undergo a one-month intensive training from top trainers, learning about effective advocacy, the specific problem area they will work on, and receiving lessons from the best guest speakers in the industry. There will be an on-site week in The Netherlands, two weeks of group-research and a final week of on-site training in Brussels. The curriculum is designed to prepare them to be effective leaders in their respective fields. Learning will continue during the placements at host organizations through bi-weekly exchanges and lectures.

Yes, fellows receive expert guidance at their placement organizations and have the opportunity to listen to inspiring guest speakers, enhancing their learning and professional development during the fellowship. SMA will also provide the fellows with independent professional coaching to facilitate the career change.

During the training program Fellows will be able to interact with experts in the field. In the placement period Fellows work together during bi-monthly cohort meetings where they discuss learnings and attend seminars. Through their placement organizations they will get the opportunity to interact with experts in the field.

You can apply for the first edition of the fellowship during the application round from May 1 to May 19, 2024. The first round of application involves filling out questions and submitting your LinkedIn (or CV), which takes approximately 1.5 hours. We expect to run the application round for our second fellowships starting in April 2025.

The program is aimed at people with around 10 years of work experience, but we will definitely consider more experienced candidates. Three years of relevant work experience is the absolute minimum required.

The selection process is skill-based, focusing on the relevant skills crucial for success in the role rather than just academic credentials. After the initial application, the process includes a three-hour skill test, a one-hour online interview focusing on case scenarios and personal fit, and a final one-hour interview with a potential host organization.

We have one application form for both programs where you can indicate your preferences. This means you can be considered for both programs or choose to apply to just one. When applying for both programs, you will be asked to indicate a first and a second preference.

The School for Moral Ambition embraces diversity and inclusion, welcoming applicants of all races, religions, gender identities, sexual orientations, ages, national origins, disabilities, and other diverse backgrounds. During our selection process we focus on skills instead of traditional credentials.

You don’t need to be an EU citizen, but you need eligibility to work in the EU

After the first edition of the fellowship we will start our alumni network for our fellows.

Feedback is highly encouraged through periodical one-on-ones with the program managers and to end-of-program-section surveys.

None of the employees, board members (and funders) of The School for Moral Ambition have interests in the Tobacco or Vaping industry, nor the Tobacco-Control sector. Two of our Board members (Heleen Dura van Oord and Edmond Hilhorst) invested in funds with sustainable protein companies in their portfolio. The Board of SMA is not involved in the selection of topics for fellowships. The fellowship topics are selected according to an independent research process and decided on by the management of the School.

The School for Moral Ambition was founded by Rutger Bregman (author of the book Moral Ambition), Julia van Boven (Community Director), Harald Dunnink (Creative Director), and Jan-Willem van Putten (Fellowship Director).

Our board currently consists of Edmond Hilhorst, Heleen Dura-van Oord, Saskia Bruysten and Salmaan Sana.

The main sources of income for the foundation are donations from a group of morally ambitious entrepreneurs who support our mission. Additionally, Rutger donates all income from the sale of his book Moral Ambition and from his lectures on moral ambition.

The School for Moral Ambition is an independent entity. Although Rutger Bregman is known for his work as a writer for De Correspondent, they are two different organizations.

The School for Moral Ambition encourages the formation of 'Moral Ambition Circles'. These are groups of people who come together to support each other in taking the next step towards an impactful career. The School for Moral Ambition provides resources for organizing these Circles yourself on the website.

We encourage everyone within their own company or organization to pursue their moral ambition. Learning more about moral ambition can be done by reading the book Moral Ambition and by participating in Moral Ambition Circles. For now, we are not entering into direct collaborations, but this may change in the future.

We strive to mobilize talented individuals to address the greatest global challenges. Also see our seven core principles.

We work in accordance of applicable legislation in this area, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Furthermore, we handle the personal data of participants and stakeholders with care.

We work according to our seven principles. These guide how we interact with each other.

We have published our policy plan in accordance with ANBI regulations on our website Annual reports will also be published here later on.

For contributions to lectures or events, we recommend emailing us at

The book is currently available in Dutch. You can buy the book at your favorite book retailer. For example, in the kiosk of De Correspondent or at your local bookstore.

Upcoming translations:

Finnish: October 2024

German: November 12, 2024

English (UK/US): Spring 2025

French: September 2025

The publication dates of other editions are not yet confirmed. Translation rights have been sold to 17 countries.

All royalties from the book and from Rutger Bregman's lectures on the book go to The School for Moral Ambition. You can find the contract between Rutger’s BV and Stichting School for Moral Ambition here.

For substantive questions or comments about the book, you can email

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For complaints, it's best to contact The School for Moral Ambition directly via

For questions not addressed in the FAQ, you can contact us directly at We also periodically host webinars during the application period.

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our founding principles

The School for Moral Ambition is founded on seven principles. They articulate our commitment to the way in which we aim to make the world a wildly better place, and they guide our decisions.

Learn more