Meet the New Director: Erin Goodman
CENTERPIECE: Welcome to the Weatherhead Center! Tell us about your new role as the director of the Weatherhead Scholars Program.
ERIN GOODMAN: Broadly speaking, my role is to welcome an annual cohort of 20–25 visiting faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and experienced practitioners to the Weatherhead Center and to Harvard. I consider this position to be “ambassadorial” in the sense that it entails a nuanced understanding of the resources available on campus in order to orient a group of distinguished visitors. To that end, the idea is to identify synergies with the scholars’ and fellows’ research interests within Harvard, and to foster connections among practitioners and scholars through our internal weekly seminars. Academia can inform practice, and the reverse can also be true.
Another element of the role is to help disseminate the work of these scholars and fellows, at what is often a key transitional moment in their careers. (We will also share their work on Twitter through our new handle, @ScholarsWCFIA.) In these times of discord, being part of a larger community that fosters this exchange of ideas and worldviews gives me hope. I certainly feel that it is a privilege to serve in this capacity.
CENTERPIECE: What did you do prior to working at the WCFIA?
ERIN GOODMAN: Immediately prior to coming to the WCFIA, I spent two years dividing my time between several pursuits. I set up and coordinated a multiyear interdisciplinary project on historical and collective memory for the Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA), which is spearheaded by Brown University, and of which Harvard is a member, in addition to operating CASA’s study sites in Argentina and Chile. This involved collaborating with faculty and undergraduates in eight countries, organizing a speaker series and an annual symposium, and coediting a volume on historical memory.
I also started my own company, focusing on educational travel and translation. I led educational trips with a focus on arts and entrepreneurship, and worked on other projects related to Latin America more broadly.
Prior to those ventures, I worked at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies from 2011–2018, where I was associate director of academic programs. I consider myself a longtime member of the Harvard community—I attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and I also worked in the offices of International Programs and Career Services.
CENTERPIECE: In your travels abroad, which place has captured your attention the most?
ERIN GOODMAN: Before the pandemic, I spent a lot of time in Cuba, first through my work at Harvard and CASA, and then leading educational trips to Havana. I think the relationship between the US and Cuba is often seen through a very narrow lens. Historically, the countries have been intertwined since before the turn of the nineteenth century.
I have enjoyed sharing a more nuanced look at contemporary Cuban society with students and other travelers who witnessed the impact of the burgeoning private sector and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Cuban people under very challenging circumstances, as well as the universality and unifying power of the arts. This sort of people-to-people engagement helps increase mutual understanding.
CENTERPIECE: Tell us something that people may not know about you.
ERIN GOODMAN: Besides my work at Harvard, I am also a literary translator, primarily translating from Spanish to English. I enjoy translating short stories, poetry, and op-eds, and have also translated books, case studies, and academic papers related to Spain and Latin America. At some point I’d love to delve into translating longer fiction by emerging writers.
My translation work is informed by my experiences living and traveling abroad, and as a student of international relations; and in turn, translating across cultures and perspectives is useful preparation for working with diverse cohorts and in the field of international education.
Erin Goodman. Credit: Jason Corey