Many scientists, scholars, and artists dream of dedicating a year to the pursuit of innovative and independent work in an intellectually rich and supportive environment. Most of them wake from that reverie to teach classes, meet pressing deadlines, attend committee meetings, and fulfill other obligations.
But the 50 women and men in Radcliffe’s 2014–2015 class of fellows actually will have one year at Harvard’s institute for advanced study to pursue ambitious individual projects while part of a vibrant multidisciplinary community. They will have access to the University’s libraries, the stimulation of one another, and the help of dedicated undergraduates hired through the Radcliffe Research Partners program.
“A decade before I became dean, I was a fellow at the Institute, where I finished a book I had been working on for a number of years,” said Dean Lizabeth Cohen RI ’02, who is the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies at Harvard. “I know firsthand how crucial the time and space of a Radcliffe fellowship year are for deep imaginative thinking and intensive writing.”
People from around the world and across the University come to the Radcliffe Fellowship Program, which has an acceptance rate of just 4 percent. Fellows from afar include Tyrell Haberkorn, an American researcher based in Australia, who will work on a book about human rights violations in modern Thailand; Mauricio Pauly, a composer from Costa Rica working in England, who plans to create new multilayered chamber music; and computer scientist Francesca Rossi, from the University of Padova, in Italy, who intends to study the intersection of artificial intelligence and collective decision making.
Local scholars also seek the opportunity to be fellows and spend a year in a collaborative environment with the time to address intellectual challenges and complex societal problems. One 2014–2015 fellow is the sociologist and author Juliet B. Schor, from Boston College, who will be the Matina S. Horner Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Institute. During her year at Radcliffe, she will work on her next book, about people consciously embracing more sustainable consumption practices.
The incoming class includes 11 Harvard faculty members, among them Carole S. Steiker, the Henry J. Friendly Professor at Harvard Law School, who will work on a book about the unprecedented Constitutional regulation of capital punishment in America. She will be the Rita E. Hauser Fellow at the Institute. L. Mahadevan—Harvard’s Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics and a professor of organismic and evolutionary biology and of physics—will be at the Institute developing a mathematical approach to understanding the complexity of the brain’s shape and evolution. He will be the Audrey, Fay, Katherine, and Megan Shutzer Fellow for Science.
Each of the 50 fellows arrives with an individual project. The work they will do ranges across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences, including a study of urban planning in Beirut, a screenplay about young people in Dakar, research on the growth of cancer cells, an assessment of nacre (mother of pearl) as a paleothermometer, and—fittingly—a book about the pursuit of wisdom.
Throughout the year, these scholars, scientists, and artists will share their ideas with one another and the public through presentations, lectures, concerts, and exhibitions.
A complete list of fellows, disciplines, nations, and projects is online at www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/fellows2014.
About the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University
The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University is dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. The Fellowship Program annually supports the work of 50 leading artists and scholars. Academic Ventures fosters collaborative research projects and sponsors lectures and conferences that engage scholars with the public. The Schlesinger Library documents the lives of American women of the past and present for the future, furthering the Institute’s commitment to women, gender, and society. Learn more about the people and programs of the Radcliffe Institute at www.radcliffe.harvard.edu.