A team of researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has developed a soft robot inspired by snakeskin. The soft robotic scales are made using kirigami - an ancient Japanese paper craft that relies on cuts, rather than origami folds, to change the properties of a material. As the robot stretches, the flat kirigami surface is transformed into a 3D-textured surface, which grips the ground just like snake skin.


The writer Viet Thanh Nguyen (9:39) discusses how history, identity, and politics have intersected with his writing and life and about his efforts to take all those things and work with them simultaneously as a scholar, a writer, and a refugee.

His lecture is followed by a conversation with the writer Gish Jen (32:40) and an audience Q&A (1:07:23).

Introduction by
Lizabeth Cohen, dean, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies, Department of History, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Viet Thanh Nguyen is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer (Grove Press, 2015) and of The Refugees (Grove Press, 2017) and the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and a professor of English and American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

Gish Jen is the author of The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap (Knopf, 2017), Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self (Harvard University Press, 2013), and World and Town (Vintage Contemporaries, 2010), among other books.

This is a 2017-2018 Dean's Lecture in the Humanities.

For information about the Radcliffe Institute and its many public programs, visit https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/.


As part of the 2017-2018 Fellows' Presentation Series at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Ifeoma Fafunwa RI '18 shares her latest production: a socially transformative stage play that explores solutions to the homophobic environment in today's Nigeria.

Fafunwa is the founder and creative director of iOpenEye, a Nigerian production company driving social change through performance art. She recently produced the popular stage play HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True, a collection of monologues based on true-life stories of Nigerian women that challenges social, cultural, and political norms. https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/people/ifeoma-fafunwa

For information about the Radcliffe Institute and its many public programs, visit https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/.


More than a half million deaths each year around the world result from flu-related respiratory illnesses. This year, flu has grabbed particular headlines, driven by an early start to flu season and the dominance of a particularly severe flu strain, H3N2. The flu is most dangerous to people with underlying health problems, as well as individuals over age 65 and young children. However, each year flu cases involving young, otherwise apparently healthy people raise flags. In this Forum, experts in epidemiology, immunology, and health policy will place this year’s flu season in context. They will explore vaccine development, prevention and treatment and address growing concerns globally as this particularly virulent outbreak gains the potential to spread further — ultimately asking is there a better way to stop the flu?

This Forum event was presented jointly with PRI's The World & WGBH on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.

Watch the entire series at ForumHSPH.org.



As part of the 2017-2018 Fellows' Presentation Series at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Nicola L. B. Pohl RI '18 provides a sense of some of the key problems that chemists are currently trying to solve.

Pohl is a professor of chemistry at Indiana University in Bloomington, where she holds the Joan and Marvin Carmack Chair in Bioorganic Chemistry and leads a group of researchers in developing automated methods for carbohydrate synthesis and analysis. She is the 2017-2018 Edward, Frances, and Shirley B. Daniels Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University. https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/people/nicola-l-b-pohl

For information about the Radcliffe Institute and its many public programs, visit https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/.


On February 13, 2018, the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, with support from the Hutchins Center, announced its acquisition of the papers of the political activist and pioneering feminist thinker Dr. Angela Y. Davis.

Archivists are processing the collection, which will be available for research by 2020.

For information about the Radcliffe Institute and its many public programs, visit https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/.


Lawrence S. Bacow, one of the most experienced and respected leaders in American higher education, will become the 29th president of Harvard University on July 1, 2018.


Friday marks the opening of the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea that will feature what some consider one of the winter competition’s more enigmatic events, curling. But once bitten by the curling bug there’s no going back. Harvard junior Neekon Vafa, president of the Harvard University Curling Team, explains his love for the sport during a team practice at a local curling club in Wayland, Mass.


11/4/17 | Harvard University, Science Center Hall C

Nuclear weapons strategy in the United States is designed around “presidential first use,” an arrangement that enables one man, the president, to kill and maim many millions of people in a single afternoon. What legal or philosophical principle differentiates the moral harm or moral wrong that would be attributed to a terrorist, non-state actor or hacker who delivered a nuclear weapon from a presidential launch of a nuclear weapon?

The conference brought together international and constitutional scholars and statesmen to examine the nature of presidential first use in the United States, as well as parallel arrangements in the other eight nuclear states. Senator Markey and Congressman McGovern described H.R.669/S.200 “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017.”

Co-chairs: Elaine Scarry. Jonathan King.

Speakers: Bruce Ackerman. Kennette Benedict. Bruce Blair. Sissela Bok. Rosa Brooks. John Burroughs. Hugh Gusterson. Ed Markey. Jim McGovern. Zia Mian. William Perry.

Cosponsors: Harvard’s Mahindra Humanities Center. Harvard’s Office of the Dean of Arts and Humanities. Mass Peace Action. Institute for People’s Engagement. Union of Concerned Scientists.

http://mahindrahumanities.fas.harvard.edu/content/presidential-first-use-nuclear-weapons-it-legal-it-constitutional-it-just


Ted Strickland, former Governor of Ohio, will discuss his career path and leadership advice on the Voices in Leadership program on Tuesday, February 6, 2018.


As part of the 2017-2018 Fellows' Presentation Series at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Samantha Power RI '18 (8:12) reflects on a question that she increasingly gets, which is, what was it like, as a woman, doing foreign policy in the US government and at the United Nations?

Introduction by
Lizabeth Cohen, dean, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Samantha Power is a professor of practice at Harvard Law School and the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, where she was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. She is a former US permanent representative to the United Nations and a former member of President Obama's cabinet. https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/people/samantha-power

For information about the Radcliffe Institute and its many public programs, visit https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/.


Thanks to the remarkable generosity of Dr. Seng T. Lee, the Harvard Library was able to award $150,000 across 7 grant-funded projects to improve access to information and the experience of using library resources at Harvard University. Innovations can take a variety of forms: technological, cultural, or operational. This video highlights the work of the 2017 recipients. For more information visit: https://library.harvard.edu/lee-grants


Thanks to the remarkable generosity of Dr. Seng T. Lee, the Harvard Library was able to award $150,000 across 7 grant-funded projects to improve access to information and the experience of using library resources at Harvard University. Innovations can take a variety of forms: technological, cultural, or operational. This video highlights the work of the 2017 recipients. For more information visit: https://library.harvard.edu/lee-grants


Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams, 20th Surgeon General for the United States, will discuss his career path and leadership advice on the Voices in Leadership program on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018