Current Newsletter Autumn 2019

Welcome to our Autumn newsletter – the fourth edition in our new format.  Thank you again to those who write features for us, for the alumni updates and for the feedback we have received. Can you help with two alumni queries in the Update at the end? Please let us have your news to share; send to

Our events in the last couple of years have reflected the range of HF interests as suggested by the survey we did in 2016/17. Harkness Fellows are busy people, and spread widely across the UK and further afield. Not all alumni can get to our events; however, if you can and would like to propose topics and speakers, please do (to  See our future planned events below.

Harkness Fellows Association

Forthcoming events 

 Join us on November 27th to hear Sir Howard Davies (HF 1979), Chairman, Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc consider the following question.  The City after the crisis and Brexit: Will bankers ever be respected again?

The after dinner speaker at the Edward Harkness Birthday dinner on January 15th will be Stanley Johnson (HF 1963) on the topic of “Life’s Little Surprises”. With a career in banking, environmental matters, writing, (fiction, fact and memoirs), reality TV and politics, (as MEP and father of two MPs, one the current PM) there will be plenty of variety in the surprises shared.

Click here to book events

Climate Change, Brexit;  Is there a better way to handle these challenging issues?

John Sturrock QC (HF 1984-5), founder and senior mediator of Core in Scotland shares a recent talk to suggest alternative ways to approach resolution. Adversarialism is costly. Whether in our justice systems, the way we handle disputes generally, national politics or international diplomacy, he argues that we must find ways to move away from binary, right/wrong, right/left, win/lose, in/out, yes/no decision making. Zero sum negotiation isn’t fit for purpose. John suggests that we need a more enlightened, expansive, constructive, creative way to sort out our difficulties.

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Happy Birthday Harry 

In the calm splendour of Devon’s medieval Dartington Hall, the distinguished Sir Harrison Birtwistle (HF 1965-67) – Harry to his friends – was honoured by a talented group of international musicians, celebrating his recent 85th birthday.  Harry was guest coach for the Advanced Composing students at this, the 72nd year of the Dartington International Summer School and Festival. In a brief break from his work with a talented group of young composers, Harry recalled his Harkness experience and the impact it had on his career.

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Brexit, Art and Higher Education; 
Our recent talks .

In June Professor Robert Hazell CBE guided his audience through the longer term constitutional implications of Brexit. In July, a group of Harkness fellows and guests looked back; learning about the history of the Royal Academy of Arts Schools, whilst sitting in a classroom where famous artists through the last 250 years have developed their talents. More recently, Sir David Bell (HF 1993-94) VC University of Sunderland, highlighted how developments in HE are playing an essential role in developing communities as well as individuals.

Read more

Harkness Fellows Updates

Good bye
HFA trustees in the last 16 years, and indeed some event attendees, will recall the calming and supportive presence of Judy Digney. We are sad she has resigned and are deeply grateful for all she has done for the association. See her reflections here.

Welcome to HFA
We welcome to the HFA the three UK fellows who have completed their fellowships. Mary Docherty and Huseyin Naci are back in the UK, and Prakash Jayakumar is spending more time on his work at the Dell Medical school in Austin, Texas.  All three gave excellent presentations on their studies at the Harkness Returners event at the Health Foundation in October.

HF Updates
Mark Mayer FRS (HF 1980-82) was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2019. He currently holds the position of Scientist Emeritus NINDS at the National Institutes of Health  in Bethesda MD USA.
John Sturrock QC (HF 1984-5), (author of one of our features – see here) recently carried out a substantial review for the Scottish Government on allegations of bullying in NHS Highland, in which he examined aspects of leadership in the public sector. He also co-chaired an expert group on mediation in Scotland whose report makes recommendations to put mediation at the heart of dispute resolution in Scotland. He is also a member of the Stewarding Group for Scotland’s Citizens’ Assembly, which will discuss the future of Scotland.


We are sad to note the deaths of the following Harkness/Commonwealth Fellows 
Sir Alan Battersbury  CF 1950
Sir Michael Attiyah CF 1955
Hugh Brogan HF 1962
Sydney George Norris HF1968

Can you help?
Did you know Ann Quin?
“I’m currently working on a book about the life of the British 1960s novelist, Ann Quin, who was a Harkness Fellow in 1965 and am looking for people who knew her. I recently edited and introduced a collection of her short stories, The Unmapped Country (And Other Stories, 2018). Please get in touch if you would like to share your memories of Ann by email to”   See more about Jennifer here

Did you know Lord Penney?
Dr John Freeman is researching a life of Lord (William) Penney a celebrated British mathematician who worked at Los Alamos in World War 2 and subsequently played an instrumental role in the UK nuclear weapons programme.  Lord Penney was a Commonwealth Fund Fellow at Wisconsin-Madison in 1932. If you knew him and are happy to share stories please contact John by email See more about John on
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