Message from the Director

Image of Michele Lamont

I am wrapping up my second year as director of the Weatherhead Center, which has been an intense period: this fall was consumed by the external review, and this spring by the implementation of many recommendations from the review committee. The staff and I look forward to a more leisurely pace next year. I particularly relish future opportunities to discuss research with colleagues when the Center’s infrastructural reform is behind us.

The external review recommendations encouraged us to make two major changes. The first is the creation of Weatherhead Research Clusters, which take the place of the Weatherhead Initiatives for the next three years (as a new pilot program). Each cluster will focus on challenging and original questions in international, transnational, global, and comparative social science. These integrative projects will foster intellectual energy in the Center by actively conducting multidisciplinary research within our walls. We also hope to boost connectivity by linking faculty with graduate students, undergraduates, postdoctoral fellows, and visitors associated with the Weatherhead Scholars Program.

Up to five clusters will be put in place, but we will start slowly with only three this fall. One cluster, led by Professors Dani Rodrik and Bart Bonikowski, will focus on the political economy of global populism and will assemble a group of political scientists, economists, and sociologists working on this theme. In my role as Center director, I will direct another, which will focus on comparative inequality and social inclusion. A third cluster, led by Professors Sven Beckert, Charles S. Maier, Sugata Bose, and Jean Comaroff will focus on historical forces that have produced global transformation. Benefitting from a lower level of funding, these scholars will work closely with other faculty to address specific research questions related to this broader historical process. We will happily share further research details this fall. And stay tuned for another cluster competition in AY2017–2018. (Contact Weatherhead Center Executive Director Theodore J. Gilman for more information.)

The second major change involves folding in our former Fellows Program into our new Weatherhead Scholars Program, set to launch in the fall of 2017. We selected twenty-one individuals who will constitute the first cohort of the new program. This program will integrate a balanced mix of postdoctoral fellows, visiting faculty, and highly selected practitioners, and will be closely tied to the research activities conducted by our faculty and our new research clusters, as well as current Weatherhead Initiatives. New scholars will include practitioner Adrian Abbecassis, a close advisor to François Hollande; Nicole Elizabeth del Rosario CuUnjieng from the University of the Philippines, who will study pan-Asianism and the Filipino nation; and Matthias Koenig from the University of Gottingen, who will research the incorporation of minorities in modern nation states and the governance of religious diversity. We will share the full list of Scholars in the fall. I am delighted that Kathleen Molony will serve as the director of the Weatherhead Scholars Program.

Still more changes are underway. The Director’s Lunch Seminar will be recast into the Weatherhead Forum and will meet every second Wednesday at noon in the Bowie-Vernon Room (K262). WCFIA affiliates from programs, initiatives, and clusters will introduce their work by leading Weatherhead Forum sessions. We have every expectation that this new Weatherhead Forum will become a vibrant and engaging seminar for our community. If we support your research, you should plan to be there and be part of the conversation!

Image of Sunil Amrith and Michele Lamont at Director's Lunch Seminar

In addition, the Canada Program will undergo a leadership change as the program celebrates its fiftieth year. I am pleased that Timothy J. Colton, Morris and Anna Feldberg Professor of Government and Russian Studies, and former chair of the Department of Government, has agreed to serve as chair of the steering committee for this program.

Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein kicked off the fiftieth-anniversary celebrations of the Canada Program with a public lecture on April 19. Festivities will continue with a series of talks organized by Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Pierre Bélanger, associate professor of landscape architecture, that will bring to Harvard issues concerning settler colonialism—which deserve to be highlighted as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Canadian constitution.

I want to thank the dedicated members of the staff, the executive committee, and the steering committee for their deep involvement in the external review of the Center. I am satisfied with the process and hope that many will feel similarly. I wish you all a restful and productive summer, with the hope that we will have a bit more time to catch up next year.

Michèle Lamont
Weatherhead Center Director

Photo Captions

  1. Michèle Lamont. Photo credit: Martha Stewart
  2. Sunil Amrith, Mehra Family Professor of South Asian studies and professor of history presented "War and the Making of Modern India" on January 30, 2017 for the Director's Lunch Seminar series. Photo credit: Lauren McLaughlin