MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences - Great Ideas Change the World

The Burchard Scholars Program 
expanding horizons at dinner seminars and special events


Students, you can apply here.


Expanding Horizons 

The Burchard Scholars Program brings together distinguished members of the faculty and promising MIT sophomores and juniors who have demonstrated excellence in some aspect of the humanities, arts, or social sciences. The format is a series of dinner seminars that reflect the vast range of inquiry and research in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Science.

The Burchard Program consists of nine events throughout a calendar year — a large reception at the beginning of spring term, seven dinner-seminars, and one cultural event in the fall. Seminars are held monthly, on Wednesday evenings from 5-7PM during the school year. Each cohort participates for one calendar year — from February through December.

Application Information

The Burchard Scholars application must include the following materials:

  • Curriculum Vitae or résumé
  • List of HASS classes you have taken at MIT
  • A letter of recommendation from a faculty member who has taught you in a HASS course
  • An essay on one of the following three essay topics in less than 500 words:
  1. Much has been written in the past few decades about a so-called "crisis of the humanities." (A simple Google search will give you an extensive bibliography on the subject.) Do you sense that the humanities are "in crisis," either here at MIT or more broadly? What might the ways in which the humanities are taught and appreciated at MIT or elsewhere suggest about how to keep — or make —long-established subjects like literature, history, and foreign languages fresh and relevant to new generations of students in a more obviously globalized society?
  2. According to the composer and clarinetist Evan Ziporyn, Professor of Music at MIT, "Non-Western music doesn't have to fight for respect anymore, and that's an amazing turn of events.... There now exists a large number of us for whom musical boundaries have lost their former meanings...." Ziporyn obviously cares about non-Western as well as Western musics. Which musics in the world's cultures speak to you most meaningfully?
  3. "Great ideas change the world.” In your essay, personalize the SHASS motto by addressing the following question: How have one or two “great ideas” changed you and your views of “the world”?

Students submit applications online here. As part of the process, students will be required to enter contact information for a HASS faculty member (or lecturer). The Wizehive system will then email the recommender directly to upload the letter of recommendation via a personalized link.

Applications and recommendations will be due on November 20, 2014 for the 2015 Burchard Program.

Please note:

A Burchard Scholar can be a major in any department of the Institute; no preference is given to HASS majors. All sophomores and juniors in good standing are eligible to apply. If you have a question about the Program or how to apply, please email

Information on the Burchard Program

Burchard Events
Past Burchard Scholars



Congratulations to the 2014 Burchard Scholars!  

Elizabeth Berg ‘16
m: Literature

Halide Bey ‘15
Biology; Political Science

Kathryn Buggs ‘16
m: Spanish

Matthew Davis ‘16

Alexandriya Emonds ‘15 
Electrical Engineering; Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Sofia Essayan-Perez ‘15
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
m: Applied International Studies

Hope Flaxman ‘16
m: Economics

Marisa Fryer ‘15
Environmental Engineering
m: Literature

Beth Hadley ‘15
Computer Science
m: Music

John W. Halloran, Jr.  ‘15
Political Science

Felicia Hsu ‘15
Biological Engineering

Emily Kellison-Linn ‘16
Computer Science and Engineering

Kelly Kochanski ‘15
Physics; Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science

Emily LaVerriere ‘15
Brain and Cognitive Sciences; Biology
m: Literature

Taibo Li ‘15
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Carl Lian ‘15
m: Music

Royal Morris ‘15
Comparative Media Studies; Computer Science and Engineering
m: Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Olivia Murton ‘15

Alyssa Napier ‘16
Chemistry; Linguistics

Quynh Nguyen ‘15
m: Ancient & Medieval Studies; Chemistry

Kayvon Pedram ‘15

Julie Ramseier ‘15
Biological Engineering 
m: Music

Stephen Suen ‘15
Comparative Media Studies

Caitlin Tan ‘16
Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Phong T. Vo ‘16

Anna Walsh ‘16
Computer Science and Engineering

Spencer Wilson ‘15
Mechanical Engineering 
m: Comparative Media Studies 

Anthony Yu ‘16
Economics; Mathematics

Laura Zhang ‘15
Mathematics and Computer Science; Writing
m: Economics

Joanne Zhou ‘15
m: Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Penghui Zhou ‘16
Economics; Computer Science
m: Psychology