Current Newsletter Spring 2023

Welcome to the Harkness Alumni News Issue 11
Spring 2023

Two good pieces of news to share in this newsletter. In a vote of confidence for the steps we have taken to support returning Harkness Fellows, The Commonwealth Fund have awarded us a grant to help us extend that support. In the first instance we will be asking more recent Harkness Senior Fellows (alumni of the program) what support they found useful upon their return or would like to see offered. We will also be approaching former fellows across all areas of study to see how they might engage in this project.
Following a request from members, we are arranging an Edward Harkness Birthday talk and dinner again. We have taken liberties with the date of the celebration to make it easier for more to attend. The dinner will held on May 17th at Brasserie Blanc in the Southbank. Before dinner, alumnus Adrian Wooldridge (HF 1984/85) will address the question “Can we save Liberalism in an Age of Populism?”.  See here for more information and to book.  On June 13th there will be an on-line talk by another alumnus, Anthony Carey (HF 1980/82) – ‘How national is the national interest?  See here to book.

If you know someone who might like to apply for a Fellowship, The Commonwealth Fund is arranging briefing sessions in May.  See here for dates and to register. 

As always, please let us have any updates to

Keep Learning

Our recent on-line talks have covered a wide range of topics; myths about the refugee issue (Sara Nathan OBE HF 77-79); how to save the NHS (Lord Warner HF 71-73); Russia’s position on Ukraine (Sir Laurie Bristow); and how to give scientific advice effectively.  The latter tested a new approach; a discussion rather than a talk followed by Q&A.  Thanks to Richard Gleave (HF 2007/08) for facilitating a rich discussion.  We will try this on other topics where Fellows are interested.

Book Events here.

A Lifelong Impact

The Fellowships have a lifetime impact for each individual Harkness Fellow. But how was it for the youngsters who accompanied their parent Harkness Fellow to live in the USA for anything from a few months to a year. Torn from their regular routines, would this be remembered as a great adventure, an extended holiday, or the foundations of some key elements of their future lives?  Some now adult Harkness offspring share their thoughts. 


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Career Choices.

If you’re not a philosopher, you can be forgiven for never having heard of him, but within philosophy Derek Parfit  (HF 1965) is widely regarded as one of the most important moral philosophers of the past century. Some go further, claiming he was the most important moral philosopher since John Stuart Mill.   Dave Edmonds, (HF 1993/94) outlines the role the fellowship played in Parfit’s decision to pursue Philosophy as a career.

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Harkness and the Pilgrim Trust

In a companion piece to the last newsletter’s feature on the Pilgrim Trust, their Director, Sue Bowers, gives an update about their work. The feature prompted Sue to pay a visit to the London Metropolitan Archives, the home of the Pilgrim Trust’s archives, to explore further connections between our two bodies.  The archives revealed that the Pilgrim Trust owes a reciprocal debt of thanks to the Harkness Fellowship for brokering a relationship that led to its foundation in 1930.

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Harkness Fellows Updates

Please send us updates about yourself.  We know that Harkness Fellows like to hear about fellow alumni but we can only share what we are told.  These should be sent to

Professor Mary Black (HF 1989/90) has shared her Alumni story. Her current portfolio career includes Non-Executive Director of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and the National Centre for Earth Observation, Trustee of Paintings in Hospitals, Honorary Professor at St Andrews University, Visiting Scholar at the Oxford University Centre for Life writing, and Fellow of Chapter Zero. 

Congratulations to Professor Dame Anne Marie Rafferty, (HF 1994/95) Past President, Royal College of Nursing and Professor at Kings College, London, who was awarded a Damehood in 2020, with the investiture in 2022, for services to nursing.
Professor Silvana Sciarra, Harkness Fellow at UCLA and Harvard Law School (HF 1974/76), was appointed as President of the Italian Constitutional Court on 20 September 2022.
Nicholas Vineall KC (HF 1985/86) is Chair of the Bar Council for a year stating on 1 January 2023.

We are sad to report the death of Gian Pietro Calasso (HF 1964) movie director, screenwriter, photographer and University Professor.
And an up-date from a piece in a previous newsletter;   in a feature by Julia Melvin we gave links to a scholarship in Sir James Irvine’s name for which a fund had been opened.  We have now been told that this fund has reached its target and the School of Chemistry in the University of St Andrews is now actively considering an appointee for the next academic year.