The McCall MacBain Clean Air Fellowship - The Next Generation of Clean Air Leaders

The Clean Air Fund and the University of Birmingham, with the support of the McCall MacBain Foundation, are launching the McCall MacBain Clean Air Fellowship, to develop the next generation of leaders for the clean air movement.

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Clean Air Fund and the University of Birmingham will select four exceptional students, from the UK and Central and Eastern Europe, to pursue a master’s degree in Air Pollution Management and Control as McCall MacBain Clean Air Fellows. The Fellowship will identify those who can demonstrate a strong rationale for studying air pollution and can commit to tackling the problem through their career choice after they graduate.

The Fellowship will include course fees and a stipend to cover living and travel costs. Fellows will benefit from a tailored programme of masterclasses and career development opportunities such as practical experience and networking provided by the University and the Clean Air Fund.

The Air Pollution Management and Control MSc is the only programme of its kind in the UK, built upon successful air pollution control lessons and underpinned by world-leading research. The University of Birmingham is at the forefront of research on the causes and effects of air pollution upon human health across the United Kingdom and globally. The course is accredited by the Institute of Environmental Sciences and the Institute of Air Quality Management. 

The academics leading and teaching this course are world-leading. The teaching programme takes an interdisciplinary approach, utilising expertise across departments for a holistic understanding of air pollution and its effects. Birmingham has over 100 researchers studying clean air from across its five colleges. The campus operates state-of-the-art pollution research facilities, which have been commissioned for several seminal air pollution studies. 

Air Pollution

Air pollution is one of the greatest threats to public health, killing more than seven million people a year, causing huge problems for the global economy, and it affects the poorest disproportionately. While there is a growing body of evidence on the harm of air pollution and commitments have been made to tackle it, a new cohort of leaders is required to maintain momentum for sustainable change. Tackling air pollution is often the smartest and most politically acceptable route to address climate change mitigation, benefiting planetary as well as human health. 

The movement to clean our air is gaining momentum. It has the backing of the public. Every day more health workers, parents, teachers, and children join the campaign for clean air around the globe. From the World Bank to the World Health Organization, air pollution is rising up the political agenda. The McCall MacBain Clean Air Fellows will have the opportunity to play an important role in achieving clean air for all.

McCall MacBain Foundation, Clean Air Fund, and the University of Birmingham

Established in 2007 by John and Marcy McCall MacBain, the McCall MacBain Foundation’s mission is to improve the welfare of humanity by providing scholarships and other educational opportunities that nurture transformational leadership, and by investing in evidence-based strategies to address climate change, preserve our natural environment, and improve health outcomes.

The Foundation believes that climate change is the single most pressing problem facing our planet and that we must all do our part to address it. John McCall MacBain was a founder and founding chair of the European Climate Foundation, which has pushed for ambitious climate action in Europe and globally. The Foundation aims in particular to amplify voices that can show how we might constructively achieve a low-carbon future, and ensure we do so with greater urgency.

The Clean Air Fund is the only philanthropic initiative which is exclusively dedicated to tackling air pollution around the world. We bring together funders, researchers, policy makers and campaigners to find and scale solutions that will provide clean air for all.

Since our inception in 2019, we have mobilised over $50m in clean air commitments and have plans to more than double this in the next four years to meet the scale of the challenge we currently face. Our funders include those who are leaders in supporting innovative, impactful approaches to climate change, health, early childhood development and equity. 

We work in specific geographic regions where both the need and potential for impact on air pollution is greatest, and where we can draw out lessons relevant to others around the world. We currently work in India, the UK, Central, East and South East Europe, Africa and the USA.

The University of Birmingham is a global university producing world-leading research. It benefits from partnerships with a wide range of international institutions and hosts a large international community of researchers and students. With over 8,700 international students from approximately 150 countries, and 31% of academic staff from overseas, its campus is truly a diverse and global place which attracts the brightest and best international students and staff. It is part of the prestigious Russell Group of research universities in the UK and ranked in the top 20 in the UK and top 100 globally. 

Birmingham is highly rated for student employability, and it is recognised as the most targeted university in the UK for graduates by leading employers. In the past two years nearly 100% of students successfully completing the MSc in Air Pollution Management and Control have found employment as air quality experts within environmental consultancies, industry or government departments.

Call for Applicants

To develop the next generation of clean air leaders, CAF and the University of Birmingham will select a group of four exceptional students to form the McCall MacBain Clean Air Fellows for the 2024/25 academic year. We are especially keen on applicants who come from a region that suffers from air pollution, and who are committed to working on the problem post-graduation.

Eligibility and selection criteria

Fellows will be selected through an application and interview process, based on their professional and personal commitment to the clean air movement in their home community. Preference will be given to applicants from communities that are disproportionately impacted by poor air quality. The selection process will weigh personal barriers to diversity and equality in considering applicants.


  • A 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent, ideally in a science or engineering subject
  • Up to three years’ post-graduate experience. Those with no post-graduate experience can also apply
  • Current UK resident
  • Current Central or Eastern Europe resident/citizen. 
  • In receipt of full time offer to study MSc Air Pollution Management & Control

Application Process

Applications for both the course and the Fellowship are via the University of Birmingham admissions portal:

In addition to the information required in the portal, please upload a Personal Statement titled ‘ (2 pages A4)

Applicants are encouraged to consider the following in their response:

  • What ideas do you have for your dissertation (a piece of original research)?
  • Where does your interest in air pollution and air quality come from?
  • What are your career plans, and how do you envisage this course and fellowship helping your development?
  • Do feel free to reference any personal barriers to diversity and equality, including gender, socio-economic or geographic issues as these will be taken into consideration


Deadline for application: 5 July 2024


Any queries please contact Professor Francis Pope: