Campus & Community

Weatherhead Foundation grants $6M to center

3 min read

The Weatherhead Foundation voted in September 2002 to award $6 million to the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs to provide additional support to the center’s student programs and the work of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. In 1998, Albert and Celia Weatherhead and the Weatherhead Foundation had endowed the center with a gift of $21 million. Renamed the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs in recognition of the Weatherheads’ generosity, the Weatherhead Center as a result has become an increasingly vital generator of fundamental research in the disciplines of international affairs.

Student Programs

The Weatherhead Center’s Graduate Student Associate Program is already widely recognized as representing the “best practices” at Harvard on how to engage and support the work of graduate students. It is, not coincidentally, a major contributor of excellent candidates for studies in the Harvard Academy. The center also has a dynamic and successful program for undergraduates, the heart of which is the Undergraduate Associate Program, which provides summer research grants for pre-senior year thesis writers.

Income from the Weatherheads’ new gift will ground the center with a much stronger financial basis for supporting Graduate Student Associates’ research. The center will sponsor completion grants for doctoral dissertation research and for predissertation research grants. It will also provide improved infrastructure support – such as the purchase of additional computers, printers, and related information technology – and expanded opportunities for conferences featuring graduate student research. The gift will produce other important investments in scholarly development in the undergraduate area, including funds for international travel for senior thesis-writing undergraduates, and will allow the center to initiate a program of summer research-related training in language or skill acquisition for both undergraduate and graduate students.

The Harvard Academy

The Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies is dedicated to increasing general knowledge of the world’s major cultures and of the relations among them. The academy’s existence is based on the premise that knowledge and understanding of other countries and cultures require a combination of rigorous disciplinary skill and deep area expertise. Harvard faculty created the academy in 1986 in response to a diminishing attention to area studies – local language, culture, history, and institutions of other societies – in the training and research of social scientists. The academy’s core mission seeks to bridge the gap between the social sciences and area studies. It achieves this by identifying outstanding scholars who are at the start of their careers and whose work combines excellence in the social sciences with an in-depth grounding in particular non-Western countries or regions.

The Weatherhead Foundation’s initial grant to the center included funding to strengthen the Harvard Academy’s endowment “to enable it to appoint more scholars, develop a fuller program to make use of the [academy scholars’] talents, and to integrate them closely with other center programs.” While these goals are being met, this new grant will allow the academy to increase support for academy scholars and Harvard junior faculty through a combination of new activities. The academy will be able to raise the stipends of academy scholars, expand its program of conferences, while supporting many more such initiatives, and engage former academy scholars by fostering the development of an academy scholars’ network to promote the academy’s mission in the broader academic community.

Funds will also be used to expand the capacity of the academy’s Web site to encourage communication among the members of this scholarly network.