Joachim Schmidt Wiewiura, Fulbright 2018/2019

MIT Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media

In the fall of 2018, I studied as a Fulbright grantee at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at their Media Lab, which is a department at the university. They research many different forms of technology that affect human beings – from integrated interfaces in the body to prostheses on the body to opera-research, research in how you can change people’s dreams and research in information-carrying media technologies. The house is filled with robots, gadgets and is a buffet of brand new things. It’s liberating.

As part of my Ph.D. in political philosophy about the notion of the public at Center for Information and Bubble Studies at the University of Copenhagen, I visited the Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media which is lead by the famous (and very friendly and welcoming) media researcher Professor Ethan Zuckerman.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Number of students



MIT ranks number 3 in national universities in U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges 2019.

If I were to give advice to others planning on studying or researching in the U.S., my first piece of advice is clear and incontestable: Apply for a Fulbright grant and cross your fingers that you get it. They are kind, welcoming and not least professional at a high level.

Fulbright - More than a grant!

In the U.S. a Fulbright scholarship award is widely known and very honorable, which is a surprise that you as a Dane can easily be overwhelmed by! I didn’t initially mention that I was a Fulbright grantee, and when it came up in conversation, I was immediately asked: “Why didn’t you say that?” At the universities, people are interested in knowing who receives which scholarships and a lot more so than in Denmark, since we don’t have the same tradition for prestigious scholarships that pay for our education.

It comes with DKK 50,000, which is money that we – my wife and I – couldn’t have lived without. Boston and Cambridge, two cities that are almost grown together not unlike Copenhagen and Frederiksberg, are very expensive to live and eat in – even if you cook at home as we did.

Apart from the scholarship money, Fulbright as an organization in Denmark is an even bigger help when it comes to all sorts of practical measures to be taken care of before leaving. I have benefited hugely from the Fulbright staff, who have always shown kindness, smiles and a surplus of energy rarely seen. A meeting with Fulbright has really been a sympathetic meeting and a necessity for making this academic stay succeed.

My stay at the Center for Civic Media was good: I became part of a group and my supervisor gave me a lot of attention, which you aren’t always lucky enough to get. All supervisors are busy, so having someone who exhibits trust and interest is great. It is difficult to know beforehand of course, but it is something to consider when deciding where to go.