Message from the Director

Erez ManelaThis fall, I was honored to step into the role of acting director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs as our director, Melani Cammett, takes a well-earned sabbatical. I welcome the opportunity to work more closely with our amazing staff, especially at a time when the Center, like the University at large, has returned to something like normal life for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the world continues to face many challenges and we at the Center remain committed as ever to the production and dissemination of knowledge that can help us better meet them.

The Center now hosts a full roster of seven research clusters, many of which are actively recruiting participants who study broad interdisciplinary questions central to international relations. New clusters on business and government, climate change, migration, and identity politics join existing clusters on comparative inequality and inclusion, global transformations, and regions in a multipolar world. These research clusters operate both virtually and in person, with the remote channels facilitating truly global participation in the activities. If you are interested in joining a cluster, please contact the faculty or staff member listed on that cluster’s webpage on the WCFIA website

We continue our efforts to build community and advance knowledge both within and outside the Center. This fall, we launched the Weatherhead Spotlight series, held in person over lunch on Wednesdays and designed to introduce the work of the Center’s various units and affiliates to the entire Center community. The Weatherhead Forum, also on Wednesdays, showcases pathbreaking research on pressing topics of the day. Forum sessions are open to the public and held on Zoom to reach a global audience. 

Our Research Cluster on Business and Government sponsored the first Weatherhead Forum of the fall semester, a discussion between Alisha Holland and Tarun Khanna about his new book (with Michael Szonyi), Making Meritocracy: Lessons from China and India, from Antiquity to the Present. Alongside a recent Forum on Beyond Merit: Limits of Meritocracy, the two conversations offer a multidisciplinary set of perspectives that enriches our understanding of meritocracy.

The second Weatherhead Forum this fall, “Can We Learn the Lessons of COVID-19?,” featured public health experts and science professors Louise Ivers, Allan Brandt, and Sanjoy Bhattacharya. It sought to deepen our understanding of pandemics and how we can fight them. 

The Weatherhead Center also continues to support major in-person conferences. This fall, we sponsored a conference on “Disability Climate Justice and Building Forward Better,” organized by William Alford, Michael Stein, and Vikram Patel. Participants discussed their research on disability and climate change, a conversation that is leading to new scholarly collaborations. This was followed by a conference on “Empire, Nation, Federation: South Asia’s Freedom in Global Perspective,” organized by Sugata Bose, which focused on South Asia seventy-five years after independence from British colonial rule. Part 2 of this conference is scheduled to take place April 7–9, 2023, so be sure to subscribe to our calendar of events for further details.

We are thrilled to announce two endowed lectureships scheduled for the upcoming spring semester. Dr. Larry Brilliant—an American epidemiologist, technologist, and philanthropist who was part of the WHO’s global smallpox eradication program—will deliver the Jodidi Lecture on March 29. Gina McCarthy, an American air quality expert who served as the first White House National Climate Advisor from 2021 to 2022, will deliver the Manshel Lecture on April 19. Both speakers are highly accomplished in their respective fields and they are eager to connect with our community. We are fortunate to host them and invite you all to attend these events.

In sum, we are excited to be back for another year of intellectual stimulation and conviviality as we continue to push forward at the frontiers of knowledge on international affairs. We look forward to seeing many of you here in the coming months.

Erez Manela
Acting Center Director