Lester Kissel Summer Grants

Harvard College sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply for a Lester Kissel Grant in Practical Ethics to support research and writing that make contributions to the understanding of practical ethics. A number of grants will be awarded on a competitive basis for projects to be conducted during the summer of 2016. The projects may involve research for senior theses, case studies for use in courses, essays or articles for publication, or similar scholarly endeavors that explore issues in practical ethics.

The grant will provide the recipient with an award ranging from $500 to $3000, depending on the scope of the project and the estimated related expenses. Funds may be used to cover the project's expenses or, alternatively, as a stipend to enable recipients to pursue research in lieu of summer employment.

How to Apply
Submit the following as a single PDF file via email to applications@ethics.harvard.edu:

  • Outline of the Project
  • Description of the work to be undertaken in its pursuit
  • Short statement (1-2 pages) of the Project's potential value to the student and to the understanding of practical ethics
  • Estimated budget identifying the expenses expected to be incurred  
  • Curriculum Vitae   
  • Unofficial transcript (fellowship recipients will be required to furnish official transcripts)

The deadline for applications is Friday, April 1, 2016, and the names of the successful applicants will be announced by Friday, April 15, 2016. Grant recipients are expected to submit a written report on their grant experience.



From 2005 to 2009, Harvard undergraduates were eligible to apply for Lester Kissel Grants in Practical Ethics to support research and writing that made contributions to the understanding of practical ethics. The projects, supported by a gift from Center benefactor Lester Kissel, explored issues in practical ethics and included research for senior theses, case studies for use in courses, essays and articles for publication, and similar scholarly endeavors. The response to the summer program confirmed Mr. Kissel's long-held conviction that even the youngest scholars at the University can benefit from the Center's work, and thereby be better able to pursue the ideals of moral leadership and public service that he cared about so deeply.

The number and quality of the applications, and the range of topics, including, most recently, a critique of the requirement of informed consent in social scientific research to a study of South African approaches to transitional justice, convinced the Committee that the Center's outreach to undergraduates deserved a fresh approach in integrating students' work into the activities of the Center. With the launch of the Research Lab on Institutional Corruption, and the strengthening of the Graduate Fellowships in Ethics, the Center is taking steps to address this important component of the Center's mission.

The Kissel Grants in Practical Ethics are made possible by a gift from the late Lester Kissel, a graduate of Harvard Law School and longtime benefactor of Harvard's ethics programs and activities.

"The interests of the students this year range even more widely than before, and the quality is no less high. It is gratifying to see so many undergraduates interested in doing serious work on ethical issues during their summer."

Dennis F. Thompson, Harvard Gazette, May 17, 2007