Eight Harvard Professors Awarded Guggenheim Fellowships


UPDATED: May 1, 2018 at 6:08 p.m.

Eight Harvard professors numbered among the 173 scholars, artists, and writers from the United States and Canada who won prestigious Guggenheim fellowships earlier this month.

History Professor Joyce E. Chaplin, Government and European Studies Professor Peter A. Hall, History Professor Jane Kamensky, Chinese Literature Professor Wai-yee Li, History of Science Professor Naomi Oreskes, Physics Professor Lisa Randall, Professor of Practice of Performance, Theater, and Media David M. Levine, and Sociology Professor Robert J. Sampson were awarded the 2018 iterations of the fellowship.

The Guggenheim Memorial Foundation—which awards the fellowships—was established in 1925. Out of approximately 3,000 applications, the foundation awards around 175 fellowships annually. According to the Guggenheim Foundation website, the purpose of the fellowship program is to “further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions.”


Hall received the fellowship for a project entitled “Renegotiating the Social Contract: The Politics of Economic Growth and Decline.” He said he plans to use the award to study the relationship between changes in the political economy and changes in electoral politics.

“Because I had been thinking about this project, I taught a new undergraduate seminar in government called ‘Revolt Against Globalization? How Political Economies Change,’” Hall said. “It was a great seminar, and it was an opportunity for me to think about some of the broad issues that this fellowship project involves with a group of really smart undergraduates.”

Chaplin was awarded the fellowship for a project entitled “The Franklin Stove: Heat and Life in the Little Ice Age,” which will examine climate change in colonial America. The first of its two parts is about settler colonialism and energy conservation in the 18th century, and the second is a compilation of manuscript notations on weather and climate from colonial almanacs.

“The Guggenheim Fellowships are really interesting in that they’re completely open-ended,” Chaplin said. “You don’t have to be in a particular place; you can go wherever you want to do the research, or the writing, or the art, or whatever you want to do.”

Sampson was awarded the fellowship for a project entitled “Becoming Marked: Navigating the Social Transformation of Crime and Punishment in America.” He plans to work on a book about the transition to adulthood under conditions of mass incarceration while on sabbatical next year.

“What I like about the fellowship is that it covers such a wide variety of disciplines,” Sampson said. “Artists, writers, and scholars alike. It’s pretty cool to be part of that community.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: May 1, 2018

A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated seven Harvard professors won Guggenheim fellowships. In fact, eight did.


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