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 2015 Burchard Scholars!  

Evan "Charlie" Andrews-Jubelt '17

Vincent Anioke '17
Computer Science and Engineering
minor, Creative Writing

Bhaskaran "Bhaskar" Balaji '16
Mathematics; Physics
minor, Music

Itamar Belson '16
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Comparative Media Studies

Leyatt Betre '16
Physics; Political Science

Emma Chaloux-Pinette '16

Marina Crowe '16
Political Science
minor, Management Science

Casey Crownhart '17
Chemical Engineering; Literature

Skylar Goldman '16
Chemical Engineering; Comparative Media Studies

Val Healy '16
Comparative Media Studies
minor, Women's and Gender Studies

Shahrin "Rin" Islam '16
Chemical Engineering

Linda Jiang '16
Biology; Mathematics
minor, Applied International Studies

Joseff Kolman '17
Political Science; Physics

Hane Lee '17
Electrical Science and Engineering

Moriel Levy '17
Chemical Engineering

Julia Longmate '16
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Githui "Wacira" Maina '16
Chemical Engineering
minor, History

Veronica Montgomery '16
Biological Engineering
minor, Spanish; Materials Science and Engineering

Jesus Moreno '16
Materials Science and Engineering
minor, Political Science; Economics

Kristen Murray '16
Aeronautics and Astronautics
minor, Political Science

Chimdimma "Amma" Okwara '16
Materials Science and Engineering

Abigail "Abby" Ostriker '16
minor, Energy Studies; Economics

Yihui Quek '16
Physics; Mathematics

Rafa Rahman '16
Biological Engineering
minor, Public Policy

Vaishnavi Rao '17
Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Daniel Richman '17
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Taylor Rose '16
Management Science; Political Science

Christopher Sanfilippo '17
Physics; Mathematics

Abra Shen '16
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
minor, Theater Arts; Chemistry

Benjamin Tidor '16
Computer Science and Engineering

Dalia Walzer '17

Shenghao Wang '16
minor, Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies

Ryan Webb '16
Aerospace Engineering

Lynn Yu '17
Mechanical Engineering