The Freedom Fellowship: Using Film to showcase the UN and the SDGs

Katherine Powell, a student at Penn State University, wanted to combine her experience with and passion for acting and drama with her passion for wanting to make the world a better place. To do this, she created the Freedom Fellowship, a program for film and arts students to raise awareness of the SDGs through their art forms. 

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Do you have an interest in film or dramatic arts? Have you ever wondered how your art could be used to help promote the work of the United Nations and the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals?


Now there is a way for you to channel your creative talent towards global sustainability. The Freedom Fellowship is a fellowship program available to film, drama or independent-study students who an have interest or experience in film production. Selected Freedom Fellows will have the opportunity to create a short film about one of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. The purpose of each project is to discover and portray the individuality each SDG entails, allowing for a greater representation of the human face behind each global challenge.


If you have an idea, I want to hear it!

When: Film submissions are considered on a rolling bases and can be submitted any time of the year. The United Nations Association Film Festival will watch and jury each submission decide upon the class of fellows for the current year. Fellowships take place during an academic semester, and their length of duration depends on your academic standing, if you are currently a student.

Where: Depending on the Sustainable Development Goal and your University location, the area where your film takes place is entirely predicated upon the subject of your project. Fellows will be supported by this program throughout their project semester. Cultural exchanges between American and foreign Freedom Fellows allows for global possibilities.

How: Familiarize yourself with the United Nations and the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. Choose one that you believe is the most important. You may submit an outline of your story idea with a dramatic script if you are submitting a dramatic project. A film reel or past related project will also enhance your application.

Documentary and dramatic film outlines with artistic reels, if available, should be submitted by email to

Application Requirements:

            1. Your name, contact information, and your University/College

            2. The Sustainable Development Goal you are representing

            3. A clear story outline of your short film

            4. A film/acting reel or past film project of a short or a full length feature.

            5. Resume detailing past artistic experience

            6. A short paragraph (300 words) expressing how the arts can spur global change            and your explanation as to the Sustainable Development Goal you chose.

Once your submission has been received by the jury, we will contact you directly based on the information provided. Inquiries about the fellowship, the submission process or further information can be directed to or +1 (941)-961-3854.

Upon completion, short films can be submitted to various film festivals across the United States and abroad, the United Nations Association Film Festival, participating college campuses and UNA associated organizations. The submissions are intended to spawn discussion panels and community collaboration on the SDGs; the Freedom Fellows will be the individuals facilitating and creating those discussions.

As an actress myself, I have always been fascinated by art’s ability to evoke social change. Documentaries and dramatic films were my way to connect to people affected by  large global challenges. My hope with this Fellowship is to create a way for artistic youth to become part of the global dialogue around the SDGs and part of the solution towards achieving them.

Each goal is truly intricate and takes careful consideration when solutions are being discussed. Film and drama have the unique ability to bring the SDGs into our hearts and minds.

Are you ready to show the world how to become a better place? Submit your Freedom Fellows application to


For more information on the Freedom Fellowship click here

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