As my first semester as director of the Weatherhead Center winds down, I want to thank our community for its tenacious commitment to our shared goals during the pandemic. Research marches on, while we continue to don our masks at the office and learn how to optimize our hybrid events. We have many conferences scheduled for the spring 2022 semester that were postponed from the previous year, and everyone is excited to reengage in person on academic matters. As we ramp up our return-to-campus energy, allow me to share with you my highest-priority goals for the Weatherhead Center.
First, I hope to improve the visibility of the WCFIA by offering more to engage scholars and practitioners, all of whom focus on important international issues. We started the fall term with “US Foreign Policy in the Shadow of 9/11: A Twenty-Year Retrospective,” an enlightening Weatherhead Forum panel that brought together voices from Harvard faculty, visiting scholars, and practitioners. Subsequent special events, including “After the Airlift: The Future of US Foreign Policy in the Middle East” and “Empathy and Xenophobia: Migrant and Refugee Experiences” showcased Weatherhead Faculty Associates, journalists, and NGO leaders on the ground around the world. We are now planning high-profile activities focused on matters like global power dynamics, conflict resolution, and Sino-American relations. Please share your ideas for engaging events with me so we can work together to address large, real-world questions.
Second, I hope to reinvigorate the Weatherhead Research Cluster program that began under Michèle Lamont’s leadership as we emerge from the pandemic. A recent multidisciplinary external review of our clusters encouraged us to build on this successful activity. We have just announced a call for new research cluster proposals, and the application deadline is February 28, 2022, for clusters that will launch on July 1. We encourage new clusters focused on—but not limited to—important and pressing transnational issues such as public health, climate, migration, Anthropocene matters, global capitalism, and populism and democracy. New interdisciplinary perspectives on global issues are especially welcome.
Third, I plan to strengthen ties with scholars from the Global South. I hope to welcome more researchers to the Weatherhead Center from developing countries with an eye toward building an intentional worldwide network. Postdoctoral fellows and mid-career academics who work on globally important issues will be encouraged to apply to the Weatherhead Scholars Program to work with Harvard faculty for up to a year in residence. Practitioners will still be welcomed into this mix, and I hope that rigorous research on real-world problems will continue to flourish.
Finally, I look forward to building the Weatherhead Advisory Board to include more leaders from international NGOs, research institutes, business, and academia. We need such perspectives to keep our research goals relevant. The Weatherhead Center has been characterized as a very big “tent,” but we require regular examination of our priorities to stay on the cutting edge of international affairs research. I am excited to work with you on these and other innovative projects.
Weatherhead Center Director
Photo credit: Alexandria Mauck