BLUE Fellow

9-week fellowship with $3,000 in funding to pursue a project of your own
ApplyApplications open in Fall 2024

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What is the BLUE fellowship?

(Beautiful Limitless Unconstrained Exploration)

Do you have an idea for a project or process that doesn't fit within conventional research domains? A radical idea that crosses disciplinary boundaries? Or do you simply have a passionate need to explore in unconventional ways?

Whether you have an "out-there" idea—or ideas—already ruminating in your mind, or are simply the type that has a passionate need to explore strange notions and learn in unconventional ways, we want to hear from you.

The BLUE Fellowship enables scholars to freely seek and pursue innovative ideas and projects that don't fit into conventional research domains.


Application Deadline
January 12, 2024

Position type

Cohort size
10-16 fellows

9 weeks


Start of fellowship
February 5, 2024

End of fellowship
April 12, 2024

Building 21, 651 Sherbrooke St. West

Develop one’s personal, original, creative, and rigorous academic project in order to acquire the knowledge and skills to think beyond the acknowledged, the recognized, and the comfortable.

As an aspect of the fellowship, students will also be asked to help organize or host B21 events and take on some administrative tasks.

This is not for credit.

Past projects

Here are some projects we loved. Projects can be entirely domain-specific, or an interdisciplinary mix.

  • Proposing legal governance frameworks for AI
  • Building a prototype of a Brain-Computer Interface for communication using EEG signals and eye-tracking
  • Investigating pain reduction strategies for women's health
  • Creating computational agent-based simulations to investigate rational constraints on moral values
  • Crafting a manifesto for sustainable architecture: material cycles and material salvaging
  • Designing a self-driving car that will navigate in an environment simulating a miniature smart city
  • Investigating and visualising negative entropy in quantum information
  • Designing a social network that addresses security, control over content, and freedom of speech
  • Rethinking Kenya's refugee camps to break the cycle of perpetual limbo
  • Designing experiments to understand feature hierarchies in Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Se réapproprier notre capacité d'attention: le pouvoir de la lecture à l'ère numérique
  • Investigating Tibetan self-immolation: navigating pain, space, and collective memory
  • How can words be transferred in a mathematical language in order to construct a model for detecting the sublime in a poem?
  • Visualizing chronic pain with art and virtual reality

What it means

Have $3,000 in funding to pursue your idea.

Schedule regular project check-ins (at least twice per month) with Anita Parmar or Ollivier Dyens.

Be present at B21 at least 15 hours a week. This includes:

  • Developing and presenting your project
  • Coming to at least one lightning talk (idea session) per week
  • Attending regularly scheduled talks and discussions
  • Talking to other scholars about your projects
  • Sharing ideas and feedback to a group of interdisciplinary scholars

Eligibility and requirements

Open to all McGill students of all levels who are in good academic standing and to students who have graduated from McGill in the past 12 months.

As this fellowship is time-intensive, undergraduate students are asked to apply ONLY if taking classes part time or demonstrate great conviction in their idea.

Fellows will be required to work out of—and be physically present at—Building 21 for a minimum of 15 hours per week over the course of the 9 week Fellowship. In-person presence at B21 leads to essential interdisciplinary connections and conversations.

Fellows will be asked to present their work to the community at the end of the Fellowship in a project showcase.

To note
Students may apply individually or in pairs, though individual applications will be given priority due to the high volume of applicants. Graduate students will need to confirm that they have received permission from their supervisor.

We guarantee that we will not use any idea for future projects without consent. However, please stipulate in your application if you would like your idea to remain confidential if you are not selected for the fellowship.

Students who have already been employed by Building 21 or received a fellowship from Building 21 are not eligible.

How to submit a successful application

Applicants will be asked to ‘wow’ the selection committee in the manner they prefer. This means choosing whatever platform they feel will best highlight both their ideas and personal strengths (video, text, music, filmed performance, unusual and original research work, etc.).

The application should highlight the originality, boldness, and creativity of the idea submitted. We are looking for students who are passionate, engaged, autonomous, and are obsessed with knowledge, learning, and discovery.

Important: articulate the unknown that you're trying to uncover as clearly as you can!

In your application, think about the question or the unknown that you are trying to get at, and articulate it in your application.

Due to the expected large volume of applications, please aim for maximum impact and clarity as opposed to detail. We strongly recommend keeping videos and similar applications to be viewed within 3-5 minutes.

If you are shortlisted, we may call you for an interview where you are expected to explain your rationale for applying, and your overall goals.

More information

Anita Parmar
Co-director, Building 21

Book a meeting


Ollivier Dyens
Co-director, Building 21