Big Thinkers for Today's Big Problems: Celebrating the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Fellows

04/22/2015 02:59 pm ET | Updated Jun 22, 2015

You needn't be a pessimist to believe the world today is facing some serious problems. Even a steadfast optimist has to admit that income inequality, overconsumption of natural resources, racism, terrorism, aging populations, and climate change, to name a few, are truly urgent issues, and that "it is imperative that we begin to build our capacity to address them in a more thoughtful, rigorous, and comprehensive manner," according to Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation.

These troubling global trends can't be fixed by technology alone. What's needed are agile thinkers with a deep understanding of their causes and consequences, namely in the social sciences and humanities. Thirty-two of the country's best and brightest have just been named to the inaugural class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows -- scholars (many of them emerging scholars), journalists, and authors. Their charge: to provide important new perspectives on current and future challenges to American democracy and international order.

"Solutions to the complex issues of today and tomorrow require humanistic and social science scholarship to use lessons of the past to devise paths to future peace and progress," said Susan Hockfield, MIT President Emerita and the chair of the fellowship jury, comprising the heads of some of the nation's preeminent institutions dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, including leading university and foundation presidents. More than 300 notable proposals were reviewed. The recipients of the fellowship will each receive up to $200,000 to support their taking time for research and writing.

In celebration of the power and potential of scholarship, supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York for 100 years, here they are:

Find out more about the Andrew Carnegie Fellows and the fellowship program at