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I4 Boundary Spanner Scholars will use humanistic and data analysis tools to support teams addressing COVID-19-related concerns in North Carolina communities. This program is sponsored by the UNC Graduate School, Southern Futures Initiative, and the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory, which was established in 2016 by the North Carolina General Assembly to deploy the collective research expertise of UNC System faculty and staff for practical use.



Every day, people create, consider, and use data communicated through news reports, surveys, internet searches, stories, and more. Judiciously applied quantitative and qualitative data can help communities achieve their goals — especially in marginalized communities, which have historically suffered from this nation’s health, environmental, and economic disparities. These circumstances have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. The I4 Boundary Spanner Scholars Program will train and deploy a cohort of ‘boundary spanners’ who use humble listening, data analysis, and scientific inquiry skills alongside an ability to mobilize the dataverse to support communities deeply impacted by the pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn. The Program will deploy the graduate students in this cohort as paid research assistants in communities where they will work with community members to empower their communities to include, identify, investigate, and influence issues challenging community physical, environmental, and economic health related to COVID-19-related projects funded through the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory. I4 Boundary Spanner Scholars will be hired as graduate research assistants for the fall semester of 2020. The stipend is $9,000 for the semester and the award also includes in-state tuition, mandatory student fees, and health insurance.



The I4 Boundary Spanner Program is open to graduate students in degree programs that are administered by The Graduate School. Students who expect to complete their degrees before the end of the project (December 31, 2020) are not eligible to participate in the project.


Selection criteria

Successful applicants will have:

  • Experience capturing and analyzing qualitative and/or quantitative data
  • Demonstrated interest in community service and community-based research
  • Strong communication skills
  • An ability to put their emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and empathy into practice
  • A commitment to inclusion, equity, and social justice


To apply

Applicants should submit:

  • A CV or resume
  • A personal statement of up to 500 words addressing their data savviness, interest and experience in community service and research, experience and interest in translating data into action, and commitment to ethics, equity, inclusion, and social justice
  • A 1-page reference letter from a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member addressing the applicant’s communication and data skills, interest and experience in community research, data skills, commitment to ethics, equity, inclusion, and social justice, and evidence of emotional intelligence (e.g. empathy and mindfulness)

A panel of UNC faculty and administrators will review applications. Finalists will be invited to interview for one of six positions. Finalists will be notified about interviews by July 22, and must be available for interviews on July 27 and 28. Selected applicants will be notified about decisions by July 29. I4 Boundary Spanner Scholars must be available to participate in an orientation on August 3 and 7 and to begin their work during the week of August 10. Application documents should be compiled into a single PDF and sent to with the subject line: I4 Boundary Spanners. The deadline for applications isĀ July 17, 2020.

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