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Although we are excited to have our fellows back on campus and working in Byerly Hall, Harvard Radcliffe Institute programs remain primarily virtual as we continue to monitor the coronavirus pandemic. See Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Updates.

Radcliffe Magazine
Fall 2020

An illustration of the year 2020 in which each number includes scenes of working from home, a family around a table, a public protest, and a VOTE sign. These are surrounded by car parts, a headstone, a cat, a vigil, food items, stars and planets hnaging from above, and a raging fire.
Illustration by Calvin Laituri

Welcome to the fall issue of Radcliffe Magazine—21 essays by contributors ranging from Pulitzer Prize–winning authors and journalists to artists, scholars, students, scientists, and supporters of the Institute. In the age of COVID-19, George Floyd, and another outbreak of devastating wildfires, as a polarized nation closes in on Election Day, we wanted to explore the chaos, unrest, and loss of 2020 in deeply personal terms. A digital format was a must, allowing us to keep pace with the times, but there were no strict requirements in our requests to the current and former fellows, students, and alumnae who make up our list of contributors. Tell us what you learned, we asked. What’s changed? What’s next? Their essay-length answers—ranging in topic from grief, politics, and race to engine repair, neutron stars, and family—amount to a varied expression of Radcliffe Engaged and an affirmation of the Institute’s commitment to cross-disciplinary inquiry. 


The essayists featured in this special issue of Radcliffe Magazine provided contributions without remuneration. In gratitude and as a means of responding to food insecurity in our community, the Radcliffe Institute is making a donation to the Greater Boston Food Bank, the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and one of the largest food banks in the country. The nonprofit Feeding America projects that one in eight people in Eastern Massachusetts will experience food insecurity in 2020 as a result of COVID-19.

Finally, our work on this issue was interrupted by sorrow over the death of Pat Harrison, who served 18 years as editor of Radcliffe Magazine before retiring from the Institute in 2018. We dedicate the fall issue to her memory.

Read about Our Contributors
[Tomiko Brown-Nagin. Photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer]

Letter from Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin

These are extraordinary times.

Read the Statement from the Dean

The Sound of Lockdown

01 / 05

READ ESSAYS BY Diane McWhorter | Laurence Ralph | Gish Jen | Kavita Kacholia Mishra | Lizabeth Cohen | Ben Miller

The Sound of Lockdown

01 / 05

READ ESSAYS BY Suzanne Mettler | Miriam Pawel | Jonathan Guyer | Ruben Reyes Jr. | Nina McConigley

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