Trees and People: Resilience in a Changing Climate – John G. Bene Fellowship 2020




Climate Change


July 15, 2020 by 16:00 (EDT)




10 weeks to 12 months


Bene Endowment fund and IDRC


One award of a maximum of CA$15,000




Student award


This call is open to Canadians and permanent residents of Canada pursuing master’s or doctoral studies at a Canadian university. The award under this call will cover costs of field research conducted for a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation in one or more countries of the Global South.

Who can apply

Candidates must meet the following requirements to be eligible:

  • you must be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
  • you must be enrolled at a Canadian university at the master’s or doctoral level (you must have completed several courses of the program, but not necessarily all courses, when you submit your application);
  • you must have an academic background that combines an interest in forests with social sciences. Applicants from interdisciplinary programs are eligible, provided their programs contain the specified elements;
  • your research proposal must be approved by your thesis supervisor and you must provide proof;
  • your proposed field of research must be conducted for a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation and must take place in one or more developing countries (see exceptions below);
  • you must provide evidence of affiliation with an institution or organization in the developing region(s) in which the research will take place;
  • doctoral students must have completed coursework and passed comprehensive exams before taking up the award; and
  • you may not be in receipt of two or more active IDRC awards at the same time, which includes the IDRC Research Awards. No time overlaps will be permitted. If you are in receipt of IDRC funds from another source (e.g. a Queen Elizabeth Advanced Scholars award or through a professor’s IDRC research grant) for activities that will still be active when and if you take up the John G. Bene Fellowship, you will be asked to demonstrate how funds from each are not being used towards the same objective.

Additional eligibility requirements

If you are selected for an award, you have up to 12 months from the date of the final selection to start your field research.

You must plan to spend a minimum of 10 consecutive weeks in the field when your research involves one or more countries in one region. The regions are: Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Far Eastern Asia, Caribbean, Central America, South America, Oceania.

When your research involves more than one region, you must plan to spend a minimum of five consecutive weeks in the field in each region.

This award will cover research costs for a maximum of 12 months in the field. If your field research exceeds 12 months, you must cover additional costs from another source of funding.

It will be your responsibility to ensure that you follow all Government of Canada travel advisories when applying, when planning your field research trip, and while in the field. IDRC will reject any application that proposes travel to a country or region for which there is an advisory to “Avoid all travel” at the time of application.

If you are selected and an advisory to “Avoid all travel” is introduced for the country or region of research, you will be required to follow the advisory even after a contract is signed.

Note that there is currently an “Official Global Travel Advisory” to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This advisory must be followed for the duration it is in place. However, we ask applicants to refer to and follow the “Avoid all travel” advisories set by country for non-COVID-19 related reasons (e.g. security risks) at the time of submitting an application.

Research country exceptions

In principle, IDRC supports research in all developing countries. However, we do not currently offer awards for research involving the following countries and regions:

Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of), Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, southern and eastern Europe, Central Asia, and South Caucasus.

Countries subject to approval

You may apply for research in the following countries and territories or for any other country for which the Government of Canada travel advisory is to “Avoid non-essential travel”. However, if you are recommended for an award, your application may be subject to a further stage of approval within IDRC and there is no guarantee your award will be approved:

Congo (Democratic Republic of), Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Lebanon, Maldives, Micronesia, Monserrat, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Sudan, Suriname, Tunisia, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Zimbabwe, some small island states (including Comoros, São Tomé and Principe, Saint Helena, and Timor-Leste), and the Pacific Islands (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis & Futuna).

NOTE: Given the COVID-19 pandemic, please be realistic and prepare to be flexible in the proposed departure and return dates, as well as in the design of your field research.


IDRC has helped graduate students undertake thesis research in the field of international development since 1982. The Bene fellowship, a bequest from the estate of John G. Bene, is offered annually to Canadians and permanent residents of Canada pursuing master’s or doctoral studies at a Canadian university. Candidates should have an academic background that combines an interest in forests with social sciences (e.g., forestry/agroforestry/natural resources management/environmental sciences/climate science).

We offer this fellowship to facilitate field research on the relationship between forest resources and the social, economic, cultural, and environmental welfare of people in developing countries, particularly in the face of changing climate conditions. The successful candidate will propose research that benefits less privileged people in developing countries, aiming to increase the resilience of individuals and forest communities facing difficult contexts and challenges. Note that work focused on genomics and/or genetic modification is not eligible.

Learn more about John G. Bene

Evaluation criteria

Using the criteria listed below, an IDRC committee will rate each application and will shortlist selected candidates. These applications will be forwarded to a selection committee of external and internal experts for their full and final evaluation. An award may be made conditionally; i.e., the candidate will receive comments that must be addressed before the award can be confirmed.

No comments will be provided to unsuccessful candidates, even those who intend to reapply.

The following criteria will be used to evaluate applications:

  • Fit with IDRC mission and scope of the fellowship
  • Overall appropriateness, completeness, quality, and clarity of the research proposal
  • Overall methodology and considerations of cultural, logistical, and scientific constraints
  • Overall feasibility, duration, and timing of the research
  • Originality and creativity of the research
  • Potential contribution to existing knowledge on the issue
  • Gender dimensions of the research
  • Ethical considerations of the research
  • Benefit to the communities where the research is taking place
  • Suitability of the affiliated institution
  • Potential for research results to be disseminated and used
  • Budget
  • Applicant’s capacity to conduct the proposed research, including academic training, local language capacity, professional skills, research experience, and knowledge of country/region of research.

Ethics considerations

If offered the award, you will be required to submit the appropriate approval from your university’s ethics committee, as well as approval from a local Research Ethics Board (as required and when possible).

Announcement of results

We thank all applicants for their interest. The candidate recommended for an award will be advised by email in September or October 2020. Candidates not recommended will also be informed by email, but this email will be sent via the online application system.

Note that your server may not recognize the address and may send the email to your junk or spam folder. Please see Question 4 in the Technical FAQ for details on how to avoid this problem.

More details

Please read the following documents before applying:

If you still have a question after reading all of the above, you may contact us at

NB: Inquiries will be answered up until two working days before the call deadline (i.e. until 16:00 EDT, July 13, 2020). Technical inquiries about difficulties encountered in the online application system should also be directed to Please note in your subject line that you are applying for the Trees and People: Resilience in a Changing Climate – John G. Bene Fellowship 2020.

We recommend using Firefox or Chrome as your browser for the online application. You may encounter technical difficulties with Internet Explorer.

Interested in applying?

If you are eligible for this opportunity we welcome you to submit an application.

Apply online

Global Biodiversity Information Facility

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