The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study is defined by a program that provides one-year fellowships for projects in a variety of disciplines in an open intellectual atmosphere. The Radcliffe Institute Fellowship Program has awarded more than 800 fellowships since our founding in 1999.
Current and past fellows include:
- Lee Breuer, Junot Díaz, Robin Fleming, Peter Galison, Annette Gordon-Reed, Linda G. Griffith, Alma Guillermoprieto, Lewis Hyde, Michael Kremer, L. Mahadevan, David R. Nelson, Naomi Pierce, and Anna Schuleit, MacArthur fellows
- Geraldine Brooks, Caroline Elkins, Megan Marshall, and Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize–winning writers
- Susan Lindquist, whose discoveries about protein folding strengthened our understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and mad cow
- Beverly McIver and Sarah Sze, stars of the visual art world
- Michael Pollan, influential author, food activist, and professor of journalism
- Lisa Randall, a renowned theoretical physicist who has worked to improve public understanding of science
- John Tiffany, Tony Award winner and critically acclaimed theater director
- Natasha Trethewey, former US Poet Laureate
- Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator and former Harvard Law School professor who formed the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The Bunting Institute
The seed for today’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study was first planted in 1960, when Radcliffe College founded the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study. The Institute was renamed the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute in 1978, in honor of the woman who was then president of Radcliffe College. Bunting’s initiative created a postgraduate study center for woman scholars and artists that provided time, financial support, membership in a vital community of women, access to all Radcliffe and Harvard resources, and “a room of one's own.”
There were 1,300 Bunting Institute fellows over those 21 years, all of whom can be found in these directories:
Bunting Institute fellows’ contributions and publications include the following:
- Barbara White '87, RI '01 and Gish Jen '77, BI '87, RI '02 received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2003. White was awarded a Charles Ives Fellowship in Music, while Jen received a Strauss Living Award.
- The 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction went to Sabina Murray BI '00.
- Playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith BI '92 developed and first performed her one-woman play Fires in the Mirror at the Agassiz Theatre in Radcliffe Yard. She later won two Obie Awards, was nominated for a Tony award, and received international accolades for this production.
- Former Vermont Governor and US Ambassador to Switzerland Madeleine Kunin BI '92 wrote her memoir Living a Political Life at the Bunting Institute. She is noted internationally for her commitment to the environment, education, and children's services.
- Two Bunting fellows were named to Discover magazine's list of the "Fifty Most Important Women in Science": oceanographer Sylvia Earle BI '69, an explorer-in-residence for the National Geographic Society, and Marcia McNutt BI '86, the president and CEO of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, who was featured in the Winter 2003 issue of the Radcliffe Quarterly.
- Author Alice Walker BI '73 wrote her novel Meridian while in residence.
- Author Tillie Olsen BI '64, '86 wrote her acclaimed book Silences as a fellow.
- Psychologist Carol Gilligan BI '83 came to the Bunting Institute to continue her research for her landmark book In a Different Voice. Time magazine named Gilligan one of the 25 most influential people in the country.
- Filmmaker Jeanne Jordan BI '93 edited her documentary film Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern during her fellowship. The film received two awards for best documentary film from the Sundance Film Festival and an Oscar nomination.
- Lawyer, former Black Panther leader, and social activist Kathleen Cleaver BI '95 wrote her memoir Memories of Love and War while a fellow.
- Diane Wood Middlebrook BI '83 wrote Anne Sexton: A Biography, tithing to the Bunting Institute a portion of her profits. The book received international recognition.
- Painter Frances Cohen Gillespie BI '82 exhibited her work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, while in residence.
- Following her fellowship, Lucy Wilson Benson BI '67 became the first woman to be named an undersecretary of state during the Carter administration.
- Composer Augusta Read Thomas BI '91 composed Air and Angels, a piece for a large reseated orchestra, during her fellowship year. Her music has been performed by the American Composers Orchestra, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the Memphis Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic, among other orchestras. While a fellow, she premiered her piece Karum with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
- Business entrepreneurs Dawn-Marie Driscoll BI ’91 and Carol Goldberg BI '91 wrote Members of the Club: The Coming of Age of Executive Women, about women executives in the corporate world.
- Stella M. Nkomo BI ’94 and Ella L. J. Edmondson Bell BI '94 completed a groundbreaking study of the effects of race and gender on the experiences of women managers in private corporations. Two-thirds of their subjects were African American. They were commissioned by the Clinton administration to prepare a monogragh for the Glass Ceiling Commission on the barriers to workplace advancement for African Americans.
- Sarah Buel BI '94, an attorney who works with abuse victims, received a 1993 Abigail Adams award for her outstanding commitment to achieving equal political, economic, and social rights for women. She was also named Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year by the Massachusetts Bar Association and "One of the Top 20 Young Lawyers in the USA" by the American Bar Association.
- The late historian Robin Kilson BI '94 wrote about the experiences of the African American women who obtained doctoral degrees before the 1960s. While at the Bunting, Kilson organized a conference of national importance, "Black Women in the Academy: Defending Our Name, 1894–1994."
The records of the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute (1960–1999) are available for research at the Schlesinger Library.
The collection documents the founding, organizational structure, and history of the Bunting Institute and its programs. These records include reports, correspondence, applications, surveys, guides, directories, memos, flyers, photographs, and evaluations. The records will give scholars and other researchers an in-depth look into the creation of the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute, including Mary Bunting's original vision and the continuation of the program after her death. The documents in this collection demonstrate the Bunting Institute's growth and expansion over time, including the decision (and the dissent the decision caused) to move the fellowship office out of Radcliffe Yard and up to Concord Avenue. Researchers will be able to use this collection to study the role the Bunting Institute played in assisting female college graduates to return to the workforce while balancing family obligations. The records of the Bunting Institute will also allow users to study the other programs and projects that fell under the Bunting Institute, including the Guidance Laboratory, Radcliffe Seminars, the Radcliffe Institute Research and Resource Center, the Peace Fellowship, and the Distinguished International Fellow program.
The Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study was founded in 1960 by Radcliffe College President Mary Ingraham Bunting in order to enhance the career options and opportunities for college-educated women qualified to pursue self-directed projects. In July of 1961, the first 20 part-time fellows began their fellowship year. They received a small stipend to defray the cost of child care or expenses, which allowed them to work outside of the home. By the 1970s, the Bunting Institute turned its focus to assisting women in junior academic positions to move to positions of greater responsibility. In 1966, the Radcliffe Institute dropped the "for Independent Study" in its name, and in 1978 it was renamed again in honor of Mary Bunting.
A more detailed history and timeline of the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute is available in the online finding aid at Harvard University's OASIS website.