"The landscape and the people were far more gripping and dramatic than anything I had ever seen"

Alistair Cooke

"The Harkness Fellowship was a brilliant experience and a pivotal point in both my professional and personal life (I met my wife in New York while I was a Fellow)"

Simon Stevens

“It gave me an understanding of America, its culture and institutions and a deeper global perspective”

Aminatta Forna

“It broadened my horizons – figuratively and literally – in ways that have influenced and benefited my entire life”

Sir Colin Blakemore

"It provided the time and place for an invaluable period of creative development and art world contacts that continue to this day"

Nigel Hall

"Without the Harkness fellowship, I would never have become really internationally focussed, or been able to hold my own in US academic circles - it was life changing"

Baroness Julia Neuberger

"The Harkness Fellowship was the most profound experience of my life"

Harold Evans

Our Purpose

The Harkness Fellows Association and Transatlantic Trust is the alumni association of Harkness Fellowships, an international programme offering study fellowships in the USA. The aims of the association are to keep alive the spirit of the programme and to encourage transatlantic contacts and relationships. To this end it runs a programme of lectures, discussions, and other activities, publishes a Members’ newsletter and has produced a film about the programme.

Membership of the Harkness Fellows Association is open to all interested in transatlantic relationships. The core of our members are former Harkness and Commonwealth Fund Fellows who at some stage in their careers enjoyed the benefit of living, studying and travelling in the United States of America,
If you wish to join the Harkness Fellows Association, please click here ».


Harkness Fellowships (known as Commonwealth Fund Fellowships until 1960) were set up by Edward Harkness – a major benefactor on both sides of the Atlantic – in 1925. They were funded by the Harkness family foundation, the Commonwealth Fund of New York. Over the years the scheme has gradually changed to reflect prevailing priorities for the Commonwealth Fund and transatlantic study opportunities, as well as to include fellows from many other countries, not just the UK. Read more »

The Harkness Fellows Association, set up by a number of former holders of Harkness Fellowships in the UK, was registered as a charity on 13 September 2001. The HFA has no full-time staff. Its activities are carried out on a voluntary basis by committee members and part-time administrative assistance is bought in from an educational organisation, the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). Read more »

Forthcoming Events

The Harkness Fellows Association runs a regular programme of events open to Harkness Fellows and their guests, and other interested parties.


16th October 5.30-8.30pm – Harkness Returners’ Event

Join us at the Health Foundation to meet the latest cohort of Harkness Fellows, exchange experiences and network with your peers. The event will take place at the Health Foundation in Covent Garden.
Read More & Tickets >


26th November 6.30 for 7pm – Living Longer: A Curse or a Blessing – Dr Anna Dixon

Our speaker is Chief Executive of Aging Better, a new charitable foundation working to change society so more people can enjoy later life. The event will take place at the Athenaeum in London.
Read More & Tickets >

Save the Date

Harkness Birthday Dinner
17th January 2019
Browns Brasserie & Bar, Covent Garden, London

Harkness Stories

Harkness and Commonwealth Fund Fellows have spanned the breadth of human endeavour in their studies and careers. Many have led innovation and discovery in their respective fields. Many have been active in voluntary and charitable activities as well as pursuing successful careers. The HFA wants to share the stories of former fellows. A few Fellows have kindly helped us get the ball rolling here. Just within the stories we have so far readers can see the wide-ranging impact Fellows have made in diverse areas. Please join in and share your stories with us. They should be between 150 and 250 words and sent to harkness@acu.ac.com.
Read more »


The gender pay gap and the treatment of women at work continue to make headlines. It is interesting to look back at the experience of Harkness Fellow Eleanor Rymill. She came to the Fellowships in 1935, evading ‘inappropriate behaviour’ in Italy where she had started postgraduate studies. Berkeley’s gain was Italy’s loss – Eleanor had received a double first at Cambridge, although the rules then meant she was not allowed full membership of the University, unlike men. The Commonwealth Fund has been supportive of women from the start; in 1925 three of the first twenty fellows were women, in keeping with the norms for women doing higher degrees in that era.

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Recent Events

Harkness Fellows meet regularly to hear stimulating speakers and discuss current topics. In keeping with the spirit of inquiry that all Harkness Fellows have, fostered by their time in the US, the issues explored in these discussion are wide ranging and provocative. Once a year we visit a building of interest.

Of the large edifices lining the edge of Hyde Park, Spencer House stands out as the only building left in its original state. The house, built for John, first Earl Spencer, was lived in by successive Earls and Countesses Spencer with the purpose of entertaining London high society, until 1927 when it was stripped and abandoned and let out until 1985 when renovation began.

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