Prizes & Awards

The following prizes are awarded annually at the Department's graduation celebration held the Wednesday before Commencement. The deadline for prize applications is Friday, April 10, 2020.

W. E. B. Du Bois Award

Highest Grade Point Average
Eligibility: Senior Concentrator focusing on African topics

Established in 2003, the Du Bois Prize is given to the graduating senior in African Studies with the highest Grade Point Average. The first African American to be awarded a Ph.D. from Harvard University (1895), Du Bois attended in London the first Pan-African Congress (1900) and was elected Secretary of the organization. By 1962, Du Bois’s dedication to Africa culminated in his decision to become a citizen of Ghana. This award celebrates the connection between Du Bois and the African Continent.

Ephraim Isaac Prize for Excellence in African Studies

Exceptional capability in African Languages
Eligibility: Harvard College Senior

Inaugurated in academic year 1999–2000, the prize is named in honor of Ephraim Isaac, Director of the Institute of Semitic Studies, Princeton, New Jersey, and Visiting Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. As the first faculty appointment in Harvard University’s fledgling Department of Afro-American Studies in 1969, Professor Isaac played an important role in the early history of the Department. Deeply committed to this emerging field of scholarship, Isaac continued as a faculty member until 1977 and taught almost half of the students enrolled in the program during that time period. During his tenure at Harvard (1969–1977), Professor Isaac was voted the best teacher each year by the students of the Department of Afro-American Studies. The Ephraim Isaac Prize for Excellence in African Languages is awarded annually to a graduating senior who shows exceptional capability in African Languages.

Alain Locke Prize

Most outstanding academic scholar
Eligibility: African American Studies Concentrator

This prize, established in 1993 by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., honors Alain LeRoy Locke, a member of the Harvard Class of 1908. He completed his undergraduate requirements in three years, graduating magna cum laude, and was the third African American recipient of a Harvard Ph.D. Locke is best known for his writing on literature and art and is referred to by some as the "godfather of the Harlem Renaissance." A monetary prize is awarded to the most outstanding academic scholar among the graduating African American Studies Track concentrators.

Elizabeth Maguire Memorial Prize

Excellence in the study of African and African American Literature

The gift of family and friends, the Elizabeth Maguire Memorial Prize recognizes excellence in the study of African and African American literature.

Kwame Anthony Appiah Prize

Most outstanding thesis relating to the African diaspora
Eligibility: All Thesis Writers in Harvard College

This prize was established in 2005 by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Henry Finder. The Kwame Anthony Appiah Prize is named for our distinguished colleague who served the Department from 1991-2002. Anthony Appiah was the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, before moving to New York University in 2014. He currently holds an appointment at NYU's Department of Philosophy and NYU's School of Law. The premier philosopher in African and African American Studies, Professor Appiah also provided kind guidance to our students in his roles as Head Tutor and Director of Graduate Studies.  This prize honors the graduating senior who has written the most outstanding thesis relating to the African diaspora. All applicants must submit the application form, a copy of the thesis, a letter of recommendation from their thesis advisor, thesis reader comments, a one-page abstract of the thesis, and a C.V. to our Graduate and Undergraduate Studies Coordinator , Barker Center, 2nd Floor, Room 232.

Application

Kathryn Ann Huggins Prize

Most outstanding thesis relating to African American life, history, or culture
Eligibility: All Thesis Writers in Harvard College

This prize was established in 1987 by Kathryn Huggins’s brother, the late Professor Nathan I. Huggins, W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of History and of Afro-American Studies, to remember Kathryn by bringing attention to the values she held most dear: personal commitment and dedication to study, humanism through the study of other peoples and cultures, and respect for the marginalized and dispossessed. A monetary prize is awarded to the senior who has written the most outstanding thesis on a topic relating to African American life, history, or culture. All applicants must submit the application form, a copy of the thesis, a letter of recommendation from their thesis advisor, thesis reader comments, a one-page abstract of the thesis, and a C.V. to our Graduate and Undergraduate Studies Coordinator, Barker Center, 2nd Floor, Room 232.

Application

Dorothy Hicks Lee Prize

Most outstanding thesis concerning African or African American literature
Eligibility: All Thesis Writers in Harvard College

Established in 1995 by her daughter and son, this prize honors Dorothy Hicks Lee by bringing attention to her commitment to cross-cultural studies and to her gift for making students understand the ways in which literature is relevant to their lives. She was the first African American and the first woman to earn a Doctorate from the Comparative Literature Department of Harvard University. A monetary prize will be awarded for the outstanding senior thesis submitted on the topic of African American literature. All applicants must submit the application form, a copy of the thesis, a letter of recommendation from their thesis advisor, thesis reader comments, a one-page abstract of the thesis, and a C.V. to our Graduate and Undergraduate Studies Coordinator, Barker Center, 2nd Floor, Room 232.

Application

Philippe Wamba Prize

Best senior thesis in African Studies
Eligibility: All Thesis Writers in Harvard College

A 1993 graduate of Harvard College, Philippe Wamba, in his short life, had a profound impact on his fellow students and the faculty of the African and African American Studies Department. Following his graduation, he soon returned to Harvard University where he became the Editor-in-Chief of Africana.com. Known for his remarkable personality as well as his outstanding intellectual capability, Philippe Wamba’s life is celebrated through this prize honoring the best senior thesis in African Studies. A monetary prize will be awarded. All applicants must submit the application form, a copy of the thesis, a letter of recommendation from their thesis advisor, thesis reader comments, a one-page abstract of the thesis, and a C.V. to our Graduate and Undergraduate Studies Coordinator, Barker Center, 2nd Floor, Room 232.

Application

William Plummer French Prize

Best personal library focusing on some aspect of African or African American culture and history

Eligibility: All undergraduates regardless of class rank

Established in 1997, this prize is in memory of William Plummer French who passed away on January 14, 1997. An avid bibliophile, French worked at the University Place Book Shop in New York City, which specialized in African American books. Self-educated through the books in the store, French became known to collectors, scholars, librarians, and fellow dealers as the most sophisticated and knowledgeable bibliographer of African Americana. A book prize is awarded to an undergraduate student from any academic department who has collected the best personal library focusing on some aspect of African or African American culture and history. For this prize, students must submit a bibliography of their African and/or African American library collection focusing on culture and history. This collection may include books and journals as well as film, music and other media. The Department reserves the right to audit the submitted bibliography.

Application

 

Reverend Peter J. Gomes Prize in Religion and Ethnicity

Social responsibility through public service and potential for distinguished contributions to the public good
Eligibility: Harvard College Senior

This prize is named for the Reverend Dr. Peter John Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, to honor the work and commitment he has made to Religious Studies, to the study of ethnicity and diversity, and to African and African American Studies. Established in 1995 as a celebration of Gomes’s twenty-fifth year of service to Harvard University, this prize is awarded annually to the Harvard College senior who has demonstrated social responsibility through public service and potential for distinguished contributions to the public good. Seniors must submit the application form, a 1-2 page personal statement and a C.V. to AAAS Graduate and Undergraduate Studies Coordinator, Barker Center, 2nd Floor, Room 232.

Application

 

Jonathan M. Levin Prize for Teaching and Social Justice

Most promising undergraduate student who intends to become a public school teacher

Eligibility: All Harvard College seniors pursuing careers as public school teachers

This award, established by Martin D. Payson, Quincy Jones, and Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., honors Jonathan M. Levin, a compassionate and dedicated man committed to teaching as a means of combating the social injustices that exist in American society. The Department awards this prize to the most promising undergraduate student who intends to become a public school teacher. A prize of $1500 will be awarded in two installments: the first installment of $1000 will be announced and presented at graduation ceremonies held by the Department of African and African American Studies; and the remainder of $500 will be awarded upon the successful completion of two years of public school teaching. The recipient will be asked to return to Harvard at this time to accept the second award installmentand to make a public presentation to undergraduates on his or her experiences teaching in public schools.

Applicants must submit a 1-2 page statement of purpose explaining their commitment and passion to teaching and how they will contribute to public school teaching or public service if they receive this award. They must also submit a resume, a letter of faculty recommendation, and a letter of employment from Teach America or from a public school, confirming teaching employment for the following year.

Application

 

Maurice Sedwell Ltd. Prize

Undergraduate who best exemplifies the values of the Department
Eligibility: Senior Concentrator in African and African American Studies

The Maurice Sedwell Ltd. Prize was inaugurated in 2003 in order to honor an undergraduate in the Department of African and African American Studies who best exemplifies the values of the Department. Andrew Ramroop OBE is an entrepreneur whose company, Maurice Sedwell Bespoke, 19 Savile Row, London, UK, specialises in hand-cut, hand-made, and hand-tailored suits to the highest standard attainable. An individually designed suit is given to the student winning this award. The value of the prize is $7,000.

 

Philippe Wamba Summer Research Travel Grant

Outstanding academic performance
Eligibility: Continuing FAS undergraduate and graduate students

Deadline: Friday, April 10, 2020.

Submit Application Materials to: Faton Limani (faton_limani@fas.harvard.edu)

 

This grant was established in 2008 by Danny Rimer in memory of Philippe Wamba. This summer travel award is intended to support a Harvard undergraduate or graduate student carrying out field work or research in Africa. Preference is given to the student who most exemplifies the outstanding academic performance of Philippe Wamba. A 1993 graduate of Harvard College, Philippe Wamba, in his short life, had a profound impact on his fellow students and the faculty of the African and African American Studies Department. Following his graduation, he soon returned to Harvard University where he became the Editor-in-Chief of Africana.com.

Program Description

The Philippe Wamba Summer Research Travel Grant provides funding for research and field work in Africa for currently enrolled Harvard FAS undergraduate and graduate students.

Stipend

The recipient is awarded funding of up to $10,000.

Application Process

Interested students should submit the following:

  • Cover letter describing your field work or research interest
  • Résumé
  • Two-page proposal outlining your goals and detailing any preliminary work in your area of interest
  • A letter of recommendation from two faculty members or advisors who are knowledgeable about your field work or research (The letter of recommendation should discuss the student’s aptitude and preparedness for the work and travel, as well as its relevance, if any, to their program of study. It should also offer any information that the recommender has about the field work or research.
  • Applications for research should be supported by letters indicating the recommender’s evaluation of the scholarly merits of the project, the likelihood that it will be completed according the student’s proposed timetable, the student’s degree of preparation for the project, and its relation to their current program of study. Recommenders may also provide further information about the student’s character, intellect, motivation, and project.
  • Budget indicating how funds will be utilized: you should also identify any other funding applied for and/or received

Recipients will be responsible for submitting a 1,000-word report on their work over the summer, including an accounting of how the funds were spent. This report is due no later than November 1 in the office of the Graduate and Undergraduate Program Officer.

Students must adhere to Harvard College or GSAS Policies on undergraduate or graduate travel abroad. Please visit the Office of Career Services website http://www.ocs.fas.harvard.edu for travel policies.

 

Bond, Julian Research Travel Fund HCAAR

Summer Research Travel Fund


Eligibility: Undergraduate Students at Harvard University & Graduate Students in African and African American Studies

 

Deadline: Friday, April 10, 2020.

Submit Application Materials to: Faton Limani (faton_limani@fas.harvard.edu)

 

This fund is named in honor of civil rights activist, SNCC founder and former Harvard visiting lecturer Julian Bond. Julian Bond was a student activist through SNCC, a politician and a Chairman of the NAACP. After years of activism, he became a professor who taught his students how the people of the United States stood together to lead the country’s most significant freedom movement, the Southern Movement for Civil Rights.

Professor Bond’s work at Harvard helped to strengthen the African and African American Studies Department, and enhanced the lives of the students who learned from him.

The Julian Bond Research Travel Fund will be used to support two, three, or four Harvard undergraduates (across departments) and/or graduate students in the Department of African and African American Studies carrying out fieldwork or research on the U.S. Civil Rights Movement or, more broadly, other U.S. and transnational radical and reform movements. Through their generosity, the Donors are helping to strengthen Harvard's commitment to rigorous intellectual inquiry through hands-on experiential learning.

Fund recipients must spend part of their travel time in Montgomery, AL where they will learn or rediscover the connections between black Americans’ fight against systematic oppression (as demonstrated by the Legacy Museum on lynching, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Freedom Rides, etc.) and all U.S. civil rights movements. This travel may completed in tandem with or separately from research-specific travel.

Application Process


Interested students should submit the following:
• Cover letter describing your fieldwork or research interest
• Résumé
• Two-page proposal outlining your goals and detailing any preliminary work in your area of interest
• A letter of recommendation from two faculty members or advisors who are knowledgeable about your fieldwork or research (The letter of recommendation should discuss the student’s aptitude and preparedness for the work and travel, as well as its relevance, if any, to their program of study. It should also offer any information that the recommender has about the fieldwork or research. Applications for research should be supported by letters indicating the recommender’s evaluation of the scholarly merits of the project, the likelihood that it will be completed according to the student’s proposed timetable, the student’s degree of preparation for the project, and its relation to their current program of study. Recommenders may also provide further information about the student’s character, intellect, motivation, and project.)
• Budget indicating how funds will be utilized: you should also identify any other funding applied for and/or received. Applications for funding up to $5,000 will be accepted.

Fund recipients will be required to submit a brief report (written or recorded) explaining how funds were used, and what they learned in Montgomery, AL.