Introduction: Why the O’Shaughnessy Fellowship Application

Ever wanted to unplug from your full-time job? Go out and change the world? Contribute to something that matters? Yeah, me too! There's just one problem. I've spent a decade in energy project management, and I've got all those things that stop people from packing up and trying something new, family, job security, a house, and bills — good things to be thankful for, absolutely, but also roadblocks to transformative innovation. So when O’Shaughnessy Fellowship Application landed on my desk via Mathias Sundin; I dropped everything; I literally left my burger on the table to jump onto a Twitter Space with Jim O'Shaughnessy.  Here was, possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a moonshot at doing something in the progress studies space. So let's dive in! 

Q1: "What work have you done in the past that you're proud of?"

Over the last fifteen years, I've worked in applied progress, helping build conventional and renewable energy infrastructure in a dozen countries across three continents and some of the most remote places on earth. In addition to my principal vocation, I've dedicated the last five years to progress studies, research, writing, and communications. Here's an abridged highlights sample from the last 36 months.

  1. I have written for TIME[1], The Progress Network[2], Big Think[3], Free Think[4], Quillette[5], Human Progress of Cato[6], and more on the Progress Forum.
  2. I've also built out and managed the "Human Progress Social Group," with 4,000 members and over 1,000 original progress posts annually since November 2020.
  3. Advanced work on "Human Progress for Beginners," the world's first optimistic children's book on human progress. Signed to be published with Pantera Press for delivery in Q1 2023 and publication in Q4 2023.
  4. Built out, with great effort, the "Progress Dashboard" concept, a placeholder UI/UX proof of concept for a landing page of the progress studies thesis.
  5. I've made acquaintances and received the support of thinkers including Steven Pinker, Tyler Cowen, Patrick Collison, Mathias Sundin, Peter Diamandis, Marian Tupy, Charles Kenny, Michael Shermer, Matt Ridley, Gregg Easterbrook, and the extraordinary support and mentorship of Johan Norberg.
  6. I've invested hundreds of hours into progress studies research, focusing on opportunities for innovation in communications and networking. Helping, albeit modestly, to shape the progress studies movement and inspire communication innovation within the space.
  7. If that doesn't sound like much, keep in mind that's against the backdrop of working 60h/per week for the last 19 months as a senior on the project team, building a $700m, 1,188 GWh renewable energy project in rural Australia.
  8. Oh, right, family — that's also against the backdrop of being a Dad to three brilliant little humans, 9yo, 6yo, and 4yo.

Q2: "What domains or problems are you most interested in? What are unique insights you have about these spaces that others do not?"

I'm looking to dedicate the full scope of my fellowship time to the field of progress studies[7], research and communication, and innovation in progress studies community and communications. I believe I am uniquely placed, with a strong working expertise, a robust network in the field and support base, and a unique aptitude for innovation to help contribute to the progress studies mission.

Q3: "What would you work on if you are accepted to the fellowship?"

Abridged:

The O’Shaughnessy fellowship is an opportunity to do something I've wanted to do for years but have never been able to manage the economic logistics; to take a year and dedicate 12 hours a day to pouring myself full-time into progress studies research, innovation, and communications. I'm going to park my principal vocation and dedicate an entire year to helping push the progress studies mission forward. Here is (but not limited to) how I'm going to do it. 

  1. I'm going to research and write 24 progress studies related op-eds or pieces with a total minimum word count of 36,000 words; work to have as many as possible published in platforms with significant cultural reach, e.g., The Atlantic, Vox, The Progress Network, Big Think, etc.
  2. I'm going to finalize, if not already completed, "Human Progress for Beginners" Children's book and work toward finishing two other books for which I already have commission interest from Pantera, "Heroes of Progress," a look at the people who have demonstrably contributed to human progress, in the format of "Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls," and "Brighter Future" an inspiring work of the same format to inspire the next generation to build a better, brighter future. These two books already have a pathway through to publication; however, simply need dedicated writing time and possibly some modest crowdfunding-style funding.
  3. I'm going to work on transforming the "Progress Dashboard" from a beta concept design into a working platform or integration into an established medium.
  4. I'm going to see where I can take the concept of building out or contributing to a website design based on Ruth Defrie's "Ratchet, Hatchet, Pivot. I posted a deep dive into the concept for a media site that skips the doom-bait but still addresses challenges here on the Progress Forum, The Global Zeitgeist of Progress in 2023 is Broken; this One Media Trick Could Help[8]
  5. Build out the research methodology for and, at a minimum, get a pilot survey off the ground for the 10 km2 Progress Survey: Concept[9]. I already have an established pathway plugin with Gapminder and the Dollar Street Project to help with data methodology. A pilot location has been selected in Rwanda, and a local host support connection, with the capacity to go live with the pilot survey in June of 2023.
  6. Oh, there's more; I'm only just getting started. I've got a year, right? A full 12 months? Well, I've made a lot happen in 2 (after work hours) a night, every night for the last year; just imagine what I could get done with a full 12 hours a day!

Q4: "If selected, what will success look like once the fellowship period ends?"

The last two questions have no long-winded answers; I'm going to do everything on this agenda and more. I'm going to dedicate a year of my life to helping move the zeitgeist of optimism and progress. This isn't a leisure project; this is maximum effort.  

Q5: "What might failure look like?"

There is no failure; it's not an option, and while this might sound like a trope, it's an accurate description of my application. I'll be taking a gap year from a project with a higher annual salary (record upon request) to take a huge leap into helping shape the progress studies movement. I'm 100% invested. There's no plan B.

"A man celebrating at a party after getting a grant application approved, --ar 3:2" - Upscaled (Max) by @tonymmorley, Midjourney AI
  1. ^

    "10 Ways the World Got Better In 2022", TIME, commission Naina Bajekal, Executive Editor and International Editor, December 28th, 2022.

  2. ^

    "Turning the tide on hunger," "The Hunger Stones of Europe," The Progress Network, commission, Emma Varvaloucas, Executive Director, November 8th, 2022

  3. ^
  4. ^

    "Reasons to be optimistic in 2022", Tony Morley and Johan Norberg, Freethink, December 31st, 2021, commission Chandler Tuttle, Co-Founder & CEO, Freethink, Big Think.,

  5. ^

    "Reasons to be Hopeful," December 31st 2019 & "An Optimist Outlook on 2021", December 31st, 2020, commission Claire Lehmann, Founder, Quillette.

  6. ^

    "The Great Decline in Poverty Over Time," August 20th, 2020, Human Progress, commission Marian L. Tupy, Senior Fellow Cato, Founder and Editor at Human Progress

  7. ^
  8. ^

    "The Global Zeitgeist of Progress in 2023 is Broken"; this One Media Trick Could Help," Tony Morley for The Progress Forum, January 9th, 2022.

  9. ^

    "10 km2 Progress Survey: Concept", — 10 km2 Progress Survey Concept: Ten countries, ten locations, surveyed ten years apart, Tony Morley for the Progress Forum, January 11th, 2022.

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5 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 7:26 PM
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Impressive application Tony, I admire your commitment to human progress and look forward to seeing what you will achieve!

That's very kind; thank you very much. If you'd like to help, please consider copying that comment onto the original Twitter post application with a like or share. The VC fund head is tagged in the post, so it's always great for them to see the support. https://twitter.com/tonymmorley/status/1613513285881720839?s=20

I hope I'll hear back on my application soon. Thank you again. 

This sounds great. I'd love to see this work done over the coming year. Make it happen, Tony and Jim!

Super compelling application.. all the best!

Well, I used the Progress Forum to open-source my O’Shaughnessy Fellowship Application. I don't know if that's allowed, but I thought it was a really interesting way of putting my application forward; here goes nothing. Could a progress gap year be in the works? Fingers crossed, I get an interview.