Prize Fellows in Economics, History, and Politics
Fall 2011 brought an important new addition to the WCFIA—the first five fellows in the new Program of Prize Fellowships in Economics, History, and Politics. Chosen from a worldwide competition, these five postdoctoral Prize Fellows hail from Canada, Germany, Malaysia, and the United States. With work covering diverse topics from the neuroscience of poverty to the legacies of empire and decolonization in Malaysia and Singapore, they are all linked by their focus on questions of lasting importance to the understanding of economic change.
The Program of Prize Fellowships, which is headed by a group of Senior Fellows consisting of Professors Abhijit Banerjee (MIT), Allan Brandt, Walter Johnson, Emma Rothschild, Amartya Sen, and Richard Tuck, first grew from the idea that the period since 2000 has been a time of extraordinary inventiveness across the disciplinary frontiers of economics, history, and politics, and of new challenges to all these disciplines. Senior Fellow Allan Brandt describes the role of the program: “The new Prize Fellowships offer an intensive postdoctoral experience to a group of scholars of exceptional promise. At a time of heightened awareness of the impact of the global economy on societies and development, the fellowship brings together economists, historians, and political scientists with deep interests in broad interdisciplinary questions linking these fields.”
While housed administratively with the Center for History and Economics at the Weatherhead Center, the Program of Prize Fellowships brings together four research programs and two universities. Those programs are the Project on Justice, Welfare, and Economics (also a WCFIA program), the History and Philosophy of Political Economy in the Department of Government, and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL) at MIT. Each Prize Fellow has an affiliation with the program that most closely matches his or her research and is provided with an office and an intellectual community (the first class has two economists who are based at JPAL at MIT). Of course, the Program of Prize Fellowships also develops its own community through regular dinners, lunches, conferences, and social events. As the group grows—the program expects to add four fellows in 2012–2013, and another four in 2013–2014—it will become an even stronger presence at Harvard.
During their three-year postdoctoral experience, Prize Fellows will have a great deal of freedom to work independently and may undertake sustained projects of research or other original work. It is hoped that they will take advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of the program by devoting time to the acquisition of accessory disciplines to prepare themselves for the investigation of problems lying between conventional fields. Teaching is not required, though if they wish, Prize Fellows may teach up to one course per year.
The Center is delighted to have found this extraordinary group of scholars, and views their presence as a sign of the intellectual legacy of the Program of Prize Fellowships. The Center looks forward to witnessing their achievements while at Harvard, and to see a true interdisciplinary community blossoming from this collaboration. The five Prize Fellows are: