Skip to main content

Harvard Radcliffe Institute has shifted to primarily virtual operations and continues to monitor the coronavirus pandemic. See Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Updates.

Radcliffe Research Teams

The Radcliffe Research Team (RRT) program matches Harvard College students with Radcliffe-affiliated Harvard faculty in a summer term team research program. Faculty leads act as mentors to teams of 2-4 students, while students contribute to the faculty member’s cutting-edge research and acquire valuable research skills.

RRT members are paid $15 per hour and work 10-20 hours a week under the supervision of a faculty member. All work will be conducted remotely and required weekly RRT meetings with faculty leads will be virtual. Specific work durations, work dates, and details about each project are included in the project descriptions section below.

The application deadline for the Summer 2021 Radcliffe Research Team program is 11:59 PM ET on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Apply here.

Program Details

Students must meet the following criteria to be eligible to participate:

  • Applicants must be current and continuing Harvard College students. May 2021 graduating seniors, incoming first-years (Class of 2025), and graduate students are not eligible.
  • Applicants must be enrolled in classes during spring 2021, will be enrolled in classes during fall 2021, or both. Students on leave during both spring and fall 2021 semesters are not eligible.
  • Applicants must be authorized to work in the United States.
  • Applicants must be physically present in the United States for the duration of their summer RRT project work.

All RRT work must take place between Monday June 7 and Friday August 13, 2021. Specific start and end dates within that timeframe depend on the project and discussions with faculty leads.

The number of hours that you work on a weekly basis depends on the specific project and discussions with faculty leads. The maximum total hours you can work for the full program duration is 120.

Yes, you can apply to up to three projects within your application.

Unfortunately, no. If more than one faculty member wishes to hire you, you will have to choose one to work with.

Please contact Kristen Kravet at kristen_kravet@radcliffe.harvard.edu with any additional questions.

Summer 2021 Radcliffe Research Team Project Descriptions

Faculty Lead: Alyssa Goodman

Description: The Prediction Project creates, collects, and curates materials documenting and analyzing how humans have predicted their futures over time. The PredictionX.org website points visitors to the many avenues where the materials used, including: 1) modular "courses'' with >100,000 participants on edX; 2) collections of materials on LabXchange; 3) invited lectures and presentations; 4) standalone online interactive tools; 5) a Freshman Seminar at Harvard; and 6) a GenEd course at Harvard. Future expansions in the works for the Prediction Project include a book, museum exhibits, anon-profit foundation, and potentially a documentary series. I am the leader of the Prediction Project which now includes the work of, and interviews with, more than 40 other faculty from across Harvard's schools and Departments, and beyond.

Student Experience & Expectations: Summer 2020 RRT students transformed the fledgling PredictionX.org website, which unifies the project’s diverse efforts, into a coherent whole, with a variety of activities, including: 1) research on topics where contextual information had been missing (e.g. background on the “Path to Darwin,” a future supplement to our popular “Path to Newton” (see path-to.org); 2) website design and testing; 3) expanding the reach of the project to new markets and contexts, by creating a podcast and a YouTube channel; 4) discussions(weekly) on key topics related to prediction, including COVID forecasting, which led to writing exercises in which students participated. This summer, students will take on a variety of roles that the project can offer them, including: 1) expanding the topical examples (for example re: AI, pandemic forecasting, space travel, ocean acidity) used throughout the project, by carrying out new research and creating materials to be posted online via edX, LabXchange and/or PredictionX.org; 2) improving current offerings via beta-testing with different focus groups (e.g. High School students, teachers, non-native English speakers, diverse ethnic groups); 3) website design and functionality enhancement; and 4) involvement in the improvement, integration, or creation of multi-media interactive educational tools.

Student Roles Available: 4

Duration: June 7–August 13

Hours & Weeks: 15 hours/week for 8 weeks

Faculty Lead: Anthony Jack

Description: This project is designed to shed light on inequality among undergraduates, with a specific focus on how undergraduates are experiencing COVID-19 and navigating problems of race and racism. Data collection features narratives drawn from in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Narratives provide opportunities for respondents to tell their own stories and situate themselves in the current moment, including describing important episodes or moments in their lives, as well as the lives of their families, that directly and indirectly relate to these two major problems. As Small et. al. (2010:17) note, narratives "stories people tell about themselves and others" that "reveal how people make sense of their experiences, constraints, and opportunities.” Each narrative interview will include an in-depth exploration of aspects of their life that relate to COVID-19 and race and racism, before and after entering Harvard. We will supplement these interviews with archival investigations of race relations in the nation and on the college campus as well as spatial analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the communities that students come from. This summer, I will be particularly interested in grounding the project in the relevant sociological literature for the writing up of research articles, reports, and first draft of the book.

Student Experience & Expectations: Students will help conduct a literature review, compile archival material on race and racism on the college campus, and assist with collecting data for geospatial analysis (if you have previous experience, please highlight it on your application). We will meet once a week about progress made and to check in regarding responsibilities.

Student Roles Available: 3

Duration: June 7 – August 13

Hours & Weeks: 10-15 hours/week for 8 weeks

Faculty Leads: Carol Oja & Christina Linklater

Description: We seek a team of two undergraduate students to write a script and complete pre-production work for a 10-minute film about Eileen Southern, which will be debuted as part of Radcliffe’s streaming symposium on November 15, 2021, “Black Women in the American University: Eileen Southern’s Story.” The streaming event will be hosted by Carol Oja and Braxton Shelley, with significant involvement from Christina Linklater (Keeper of the Isham Library). The film is part of a multifaceted project exploring the career of Eileen Southern (1920-2002), who in 1976 became the first African American woman tenured in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Harvard has done little to recognize that ground-breaking role. Five years before her FAS appointment, Southern published The Music of Black Americans (W. W. Norton), a now-legendary text that marked an historic intervention into the European-dominated field of musicology. The book is a densely researched survey of African American music. It reveals an open-minded attitude that was exceptional for its day, placing Black concert traditions alongside popular music, ragtime, jazz, and, in its third edition, hip hop. As a result, it confronted the high-low cultural divide so common for its era. The book remains a standard source on an expansive subject. More than that, The Music of Black Americans inspired an academic subfield, and in the 21st century that field of research has grown extraordinarily. Among Southern’s many achievements, she also founded and edited The Black Perspective in Music (1973-1990), an academic journal that was produced (quite literally) at her kitchen table. The Black Perspective intervened in the field of musicology during an era when its signature publications were focused on European traditions. At the same time, Southern played an important institutional role at Harvard. She was on the ground floor in developing Afro-American Studies (now African and African American Studies), serving as an early chair of that department. She was also on the faculty of the Department of Music. To date, she is the only African American tenured within that department. Overall, the Eileen Southern Project aims for restorative justice. It builds in part on archival documentation in the Schlesinger Library and explores an important chapter in Harvard’s racial history. It is targeted to an audience beyond the academy.

Student Experience & Expectations: The research for this film is completed, and the materials are in hand. The film will take as its launching pad a letter written by Southern in 1967, complaining of racial bias and resigning her faculty position at Brooklyn College. A carbon of this letter is housed in Southern’s collection at the Harvard University Archives. The film will then touch upon major points in Southern’s career, documenting the racial and gender discrimination that she faced while chronicling her achievements as a scholar; it will explore an important era in Harvard’s history. Student researchers will undertake pre-production for the film and go through the following steps:

  • Studying selected documentaries to get a sense of how a film is built around archival documentation, including the recent PBS documentary Asian Americans.
  • Immersing themselves in materials compiled as part of Harvard’s overall Eileen Southern Project. These include:
  • Archival documents related to Southern’s career that are part of the web exhibit that will be completed separately over the summer. 
  • Interviews about Southern conducted by Harvard graduate students (25 interviews to date)
  • An extensive interview with Southern, conducted in 1981. An audio recording and written transcription are housed in the Schlesinger Library.
  • A contact sheet of photographs of Southern, also in the Schlesinger. Over time, one photo of Southern has become her visual signature. It is austere, and, by contrast, the contact sheet in the Schlesinger shows a vivacious, smiling person – a new image.
  • Southern’s book, The Music of Black Americans (first edition, 1971), and the periodical that she founded and edited, The Black Perspective in Music (1973-1990).

The final products will include: (1) a paper edit (i.e., a spreadsheet listing images to include), and (2) a script for the film.

Student Roles Available: 2

Duration: June 7 – July 30

Hours & Weeks: 15 hours/week for 8 weeks

Faculty Lead: Christina Davis

Description: This research project examines the politics of trade disputes and economic statecraft with a focus how institutions at home and in the international regime help states to balance competing interests. First, one paper compares how governments structure the domestic bureaucracy that conducts trade policy. Foreign trade is at the nexus of commerce and diplomacy. For a leadership that seeks an active trade agenda for broad economic interests, this presents a challenge. Managing trade as commercial policy will risk capture as an instrument of industrial policy. Alternatively, handling trade as part of the foreign policy portfolio risks cooptation as a tool of economic statecraft. Confronting this dilemma, the United States Congress established the USTR as an independent agency focused exclusively on trade policy. But few other governments follow this path. Trade policy in most countries falls under the jurisdiction of either the foreign ministry or the commerce ministry – what explains the choice to center trade policy closer to industry or foreign policy? How does the structure of the bureaucracy on this dimension shape foreign economic policy outcomes across measures of trade agreements and disputes? A second paper explores competing economic models within an international order shaped by balance of power politics and international law. The analysis examines the political determinants of coordination for international economic rules. Beyond economic fundamentals, many features of the economic order reflect priorities shaped by security interests. This can be seen in the economic models states choose and their ability to deviate from rules. Cases include Japanese industrial policy that lay the foundation for its high growth economic miracle, Chinese state-led capitalism, and U.S. national security justification of trade sanctions and buy American policies. In the evolving area of electronic commerce, we will compare the commercial and security interests that shape alternative views of the best regulatory model for international trade rules. This paper revisits theories about the balance between states and markets, and highlights the intersection of these policies with regional and multilateral trade rules. How did Japan and now China use rules to open markets for export-led development while preserving industry targeting at home? What has been the role of security interests to moderate state policies toward industrial policy at home and abroad?

Student Experience & Expectations: Research will involve compiling detailed analysis of the bureaucracy across countries at each stage of trade policy development. Analysis of media coverage, public opinion data, and legislative testimony will provide insight into domestic opinion toward competing economic models and international cooperation. Preference will be given to those who have a familiarity with reading business news and have taken a course in economics or political economy and feel confident in their ability to code data in excel and use R software to produce simple tables and graphs.

Student Roles Available: 4

Duration: June 7 – August 13

Hours & Weeks: 10 hours/week, for a minimum of 4 weeks (specific number is flexible)

Faculty Leads: Erica Chenoweth & Zoe Marks

Description: In this book project, Professors Erica Chenoweth and Zoe Marks are examining how women’s participation at the frontlines of large-scale insurrections affects the outcomes and aftermath of these rebellions. The project explores how women’s participation affects movements' ability to win their immediate objectives, as well as the effects of women’s participation on politics after the conflict or uprising has ended. We find that not only does women’s participation at the frontlines of armed and nonviolent movements alike increase the campaign’s chances of success, it also often strengthens and consolidates democracy and gender equality in the years that follow. In fact, we argue that women’s participation serves as a rising tide for all boats, leading to significantly more egalitarian distributions of rights and freedoms, resources, and access to power across social groups five years after the movement ends. However, the fact of social upheaval alone does not lead to transformations in gender rights. These effects are highly conditional on whether the campaign itself succeeds, suggesting that while women’s frontline participation is often crucial for campaign success, campaign victory is also critical in ushering in women’s empowerment and equality. In the arc of contemporary history, women’s participation in mass movements - and their ability to win - has helped drive gender equality, women’s empowerment, and democracy more broadly. In this project, we aim to extend and expand the data coverage to include greater historical and geographical coverage, as well as completing and standardizing detailed descriptive narratives regarding each of the cases. These compiled cases will be released with the book as a reference guide for readers.

Student Experience & Expectations: Student research assistants will refine and extend data on women’s participation in large-scale resistance movements from 1945-2019. Work will involve researching and documenting historical cases, writing narratives with summaries of cases and relevant sources, entering data into a shared spreadsheet, and maintaining routine contact with the project team. If time allows, the project may also include adding new indicators of gender and youth participation to the database. Students will be expected to work between 10 and 15 hours per week, including a weekly team meeting. Excellent research, writing, analytical, and quantitative skills are preferred.

Student Roles Available: 4

Duration: June 7 – August 13

Hours & Weeks: 12 hours/week for 10 weeks

Faculty Lead: Iris Bohnet

Description: The Women and Public Policy Program of Harvard Kennedy School equips leaders and changemakers with rigorous evidence-based strategies to advance women and gender equity. WAPPP seeks to hire two students with excellent research and writing skills to work on a project under the guidance of Professor Iris Bohnet and the Gender Action Lab Research team at HKS. The Gender Action Lab aims to redesign the workplace and fix systemic imbalances in opportunities and outcomes by creating research, democratizing and translating the evidence, and building communities of change in collaboration with diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioners, changemakers, and business leaders.

Student Experience & Expectations: Research assistants will work closely with the GAL team over the summer to summarize, edit, and compile experimental research on debiasing the workplace for diversity and inclusion practitioners. Tasks will involve completing literature reviews on specific topics (such as intersectionality in the workplace, equitable product design, and algorithmic bias); researching and summarizing recent toolkits and reports on DEI; and assisting with grant writing and other research projects as needed. Interested students should have a demonstrated passion for advancing diversity, equity and belonging within the workplace. This position works closely in collaboration with WAPPP Research Fellows Anisha Asundi and Siri Chilazi, under the guidance of Professor Iris Bohnet.

Student Roles Available: 2

Duration: June 7 – August 1

Hours & Weeks: 15 hours/week for 8 weeks

Faculty Leads: Janet Rich-Edwards & Jennifer Stuart

Description: There is an urgent need to understand the physical and psychosocial stressors on American nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the personal and institutional responses that exacerbate or mitigate those stressors. We launched a series of surveys to two national cohorts of nurses: the Nurses’ Health Study 3 (NHS3, ~45,000 female and male nurses now age 20-55) and NHS2 (~117k female RNs now age 55-75). The first survey went out in April 2021, and over 22,000 nurses responded. We’ve continued to follow with monthly surveys until April 2021. The surveys query worksite, exposure toCOVID-19 positive patients, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), infection status, symptoms and hospitalization. Monthly surveys quantify psychosocial stress, burnout, work conflicts and other items. Open fields invite nurses to describe their experience of the pandemic in their own words. This allows our research team to do mixed methods analysis to mine the qualitative data the nurses contribute in the open fields and use it expand our understanding of the quantitative data, to better describe sources of stress, resilience, and barriers to safety and effectiveness experienced by nurses. Last summer, a student team reviewed and coded the open field responses for the first two months of the survey. We reviewed the nurses own words to describe their work and personal life during the pandemic, creating a codebook that organizes meaningful comments into over a hundred categories, such as ‘purpose from work,’ ‘media fear mongering,‘ community closeness,’ ‘gratitude,’ ‘homeschooling challenges,’ and ‘sad on the frontline.’ This summer, we will be coding records from late in the pandemic. We will also be taking the coded results and crossing them with quantitative data from the survey and from other databases to create mixed methods papers on nurses’ experiences during the pandemic. In particular, we will be examining nurses’ comments about government (in particular, their comments whether local and national government response was adequate or inadequate, as well as comments about the public adhering or not to government guidance) against data from an independent database of site-specific mask mandates and shutdowns in workplaces, transportation, schools and public gatherings.

Student Experience & Expectations: Working as a team, students will review and code the open field responses of the nurses. Students may also be involved in simple statistical programming to derive the quantitative variables that will be crossed with the coded responses. Students will also be engaged in calculating statistics with respect to coding reliability. The team meets weekly with faculty from Harvard Medical School and Harvard TH Chan and Boston University Schools of Public Health. The student team also meets during the week to collaborate on coding. This is a chance to learn qualitative and mixed methods research techniques, and to work closely with a team of students and faculty in a collaborative project. For those with time and interest (mostly likely beyond the summer), there may be a chance to co-author research papers for journal submission. No experience necessary, though familiarity with formulas in Excel and simple SASstatistical programming is a plus.

Student Roles Available: 2

Duration: June 7 – August 13

Hours & Weeks: 15 hours/week for 8 weeks

Faculty Lead: Jarvis Givens

Description: This project sets out to revise the history of early American education by accounting for the presence of Native and Black Americans in the political economic development of schooling in US society. It is framed through the lens of “Red, White, and Black,” which might be thought of as the founding racial triad given the structuring events of settler colonialism and racial chattel slavery. While common narratives suggest that Native Americans and African Americans were excluded from mainstream education through the nineteenth century, this narrative of exclusion actually obscures the ways in which these subjugated groups were inscribed into the political project of American education from its inception. Thus, the book that will result from this research will tell a new story of the beginning of U.S. education that accounts for how the schooling experiences of Black and Native peoples were adversely shaped by their relationship to the U.S. nation-state, and how prejudices against Native and Black populations also shaped the schooling of White citizens.

Student Experience & Expectations: Students working on this project will become closely acquainted with the history of education in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as theoretical frameworks from the fields of Black Studies and Native Studies that support critical interrogation of race, power, and schooling in the United States. They will also benefit from interacting with a rich body of primary sources related to this topic, while becoming familiar with the secondary literature on the history of race and education. This project will benefit from literature reviews generated by students’ research, relevant information mined from digitized primary sources, and the rich discussions stemming from our collective learning in this process. In addition to undergraduate research assistants, a doctoral student from the Graduate School of Education will also work on this project. Each student researcher will be assigned a different chapter from the book I am currently writing, and their research assignments will be framed by the needs of that portion of the project. The main responsibilities will involve reading secondary literature, mining and analyzing digitized primary sources, transcribing relevant passages, writing incisive reviews, and populating this information into a shared Zotero group and chapter outlines.

Student Roles Available: 3

Duration: June 7 – August 6

Hours & Weeks: 20 hours/week for 6 weeks

Faculty Leads: Sandra Susan Smith & Gabriella Priest

Description: In 2020, San Francisco implemented bail reform, releasing most pretrial defendants awaiting caseadjudication. As a result, San Francisco's pretrial system now relies much less heavily on detention forpretrial supervision. For many released defendants, however, state surveillance has not ended. Instead, San Francisco's use of electronic monitoring systems (EM) for pretrial detainees has skyrocketed, essentially replacing defendants' detention in San Francisco jails. While many have praised San Francisco's approach to pretrial EM because the city does not chargedefendants for the monitoring they receive, critics remain concerned that pretrial EM still amounts tosignificant and unnecessary confinement and control of individuals who have not been convicted ofcrime. We know little, however, about defendants' experiences with electronic monitoring in its variousforms – alcohol, radio frequency (RM), and global positioning system (GPS). Specifically, it is unclear towhat extent and how each form of monitoring affects the lives of defendants for whom the court hasordered such monitoring. What constraints does electronic monitoring pose for defendants who havebeen released? In what ways do constraints impact defendants and their families? What strategies doindividuals adopt to manage the constraints they face? What are the short- and long-term consequences of pretrial EM? This study is an effort to fill this knowledge gap. In the summer of 2021, researchers from the Program inCriminal Justice plan to conduct 100 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with individuals who arecurrently being monitored pretrial in San Francisco, or who have been monitored pretrial in the recentpast. The study’s findings have the potential to shape policy decisions related to the use of pretrialelectronic monitoring in the future, in San Francisco and beyond. A growing body of research has shown in compelling fashion that many penal system interventions – forinstance, pretrial detention; the prosecution of non-violent, misdemeanor offenses; long probation andparole sentences – incur far greater social costs to individuals and the communities to which they belongthan they yield benefits to public safety. In the end, this study’s potential impact is not only a questionabout the extent to which pretrial EM is an improvement over pretrial detention. It is also a question about how much greater the social costs of pretrial EM are relative to pretrial release without surveillance.

Student Experience & Expectations: Students will conduct the in-depth, semi-structured interviews by phone or over Zoom. If the project receives four students, each will be expected to conduct 25 interviews over the 8-week period. Each interview will take approximately 45 minutes to one hour, allowing each student to conduct roughly 4-5 interviews each week. The project would benefit from students who have some experience conducting in-depth interviews, bu tall chosen students will receive extensive training before they begin interviewing for the project. Most important, however, is that students have excellent interpersonal skills -- open, comfortable in social interactions, able to listen closely, to demonstrate understanding of what is being shared, and to show compassion. Also preferred are students who are knowledgeable about the penal system.

Student Roles Available: 4

Duration: June 7 – August 13

Hours & Weeks: 15 hours/week for 8 weeks

Back to top