The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University has selected Associate Professor Jal Mehta to be a Radcliffe Institute fellow for the 2016–2017 academic year. Mehta joins 50 leading artists and scholars who will have one year at Harvard’s institute for advanced study to pursue ambitious individual projects while part of a vibrant multidisciplinary community.
"I'm honored to be selected for the Radcliffe Fellowship, and am very much looking forward to learning in the vibrant Radcliffe community,” Mehta said, noting that he will miss his Ed School colleagues and teaching students in his deeper learning and education policy courses during the sabbatical.
Mehta’s research explores the role of different forms of knowledge in tackling major social and political problems, particularly problems of human improvement. He has also written extensively on how to improve American education, with a particular focus on the professionalization of teaching.
During his fellowship year, he will continue focusing on projects related to what it takes to improve American education. First, he will work on completing a book, co-authored with doctoral candidate Sarah Fine, about the elusive quest for deeper learning in American high schools. The book argues that deep learning emerges at the intersection of mastery, identity, and creativity and that American high schools are, for the most part, not organized to consistently achieve any of these virtues, he says.
“We look at a range of different models — project-based, no excuses, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and spaces within schools; not only core disciplinary class but also electives and extracurriculars — to identify the conditions under which powerful learning does emerge, and to understand what kinds of systems might make this kind of learning more the exception than the rule,” he says.
Additionally, Mehta plans to continue exploring the relationship among social science, social policy, and social progress. The project, which he calls, The Chastened Dream, will look at how publicly-oriented professional schools, including those focused on education, public health, public policy, and urban planning and design, develop knowledge that they hope will be useful for ameliorating poverty, curing disease, improving education, and increasing the quality of life for us all.
As a fellow, Mehta will join scholars, scientists, and artists from around the world into the prestigious fellowship program, which has an acceptance rate of just 3 percent. Throughout the year, the 50 Radcliffe fellows will share their ideas with one another and the public through presentations, lectures, concerts, and exhibitions. The Radcliffe Institute has awarded more than 800 fellowships since its founding in 1999. The complete list of 2016–2017 fellows is online: www.radcliffe.harvard.edu.