In 1968, the Watson Foundation launched its first program, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, and in 1969 the first fellows departed. The goal was to encourage students to embrace their biggest ideas on an international scale. In doing so, the belief was that they would build the confidence, perspective and international concern to become more humane and effective leaders of their own lives and the lives of others. Since that time, nearly 3,000 Watson Fellows have been awarded and over 42,000 students have completed the Watson application -- forming a personal blueprint for their beliefs.
Today Watson Fellows are leaders in every field. They have argued America’s most influential education legislation before the US Supreme Court, reinvented affordable housing, journalism, Broadway, contemporary music, computing and data science, and established important new theories about the earth’s formation. During 2018 we look forward to sharing the stories and impact of the Watson Fellowships, announcing exciting new projects, and thanking the many partners who make them possible.