John C. Culver Institute of Politics Scholarship

In May 2013, the Institute of Politics announced a new scholarship opportunity for students across the country interested in pursuing graduate studies in public service - beginning in 2014.  The John C. Culver Institute of Politics Scholarship will be awarded annually and provide full tuition for two years toward a graduate degree at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The scholarship is named after John C. Culver, who has served on the IOP’s Senior Advisory Committee since 1975 – 14 years as Chairman – and now holds the committee post of Chair Emeritus.  Culver also served as the Institute’s Interim Director from July 2010 until January 2011.  Culver served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democratic Representative from Iowa’s second district, winning his first election in 1964, and served one term in the U.S. Sen­ate from 1975 until 1981.  A former Infantry Officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, Culver is a graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Culver was the recipient of the Lionel de Jersey Harvard post-graduate scholarship to Emmanuel College, Cambridge University. Culver was inducted into the Harvard Football Hall of Fame in 1978, and is the co-author of American Dreamer: The Life and Times of Henry A. Wallace.

Eligible applicants will include students active at the IOP or in public service programming at other participating organizations within the Institute’s National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement, a consortium of twenty-eight colleges and universities around the country committed to creating more politically and civically engaged campuses. 

“It has been a privilege to serve for many years on the Senior Advisory Committee of Harvard’s Institute of Politics, established in 1966 as a living memorial to President Kennedy,” said Harvard Institute of Politics Senior Advisory Committee Chairman Emeritus John C. Culver.  “I am honored to be associated with this IOP scholarship initiative to support and encourage public service.”

“It is fitting that this scholarship at Harvard Kennedy School bears the name of Senator John Culver, whose intelligence, integrity, and outstanding service to our nation are an inspiration,” said Harvard Institute of Politics Senior Advisory Committee Chair Caroline Kennedy.   “Senator Culver's vision, passion and energy have been invaluable to my family through the years, and especially in helping to create a vibrant living memorial to President Kennedy at the Institute of Politics.  He is a role model for anyone seeking public service, and we hope that Culver Scholars will be motivated by his extraordinary example in the years to come."

“John Culver’s dedication to the Institute of Politics has helped us achieve excellence and become a model for similar institutions nationwide,” said Harvard Institute of Politics Director Trey Grayson.  “John’s invaluable counsel has improved our programming, ensured we achieve our mission and inspired countless students to consider public service careers for nearly four decades.  We are very proud to offer this scholarship in his name.”

The John C. Culver Institute of Politics Scholarship application process will open in the spring of 2015. Selection will be based upon the candidate’s strong record of academic achievement, demonstrated commitment to politics and public service and proven leadership ability. 

Institute awards first John C. Culver Scholarship to Peter Bacon

As a Harvard undergraduate, Peter Bacon had some of his most memorable experiences at the Institute of Politics organizing debates on hot-button issues through the Harvard Political Union and writing feature articles on policy for the Harvard Political Review (HPR) magazine.  Bacon also enjoyed serving as a student liaison to spring 2008 Resident Fellow Connie Morella, helping publicize her weekly study group discussions on the growing decline of bipartisanship in the U.S. House of Representatives and the attendant consequences on legislative progress. 

But it was Bacon’s 2007 experience on the IOP’s “Campus Voices” project – an exciting and unique opportunity for students to document and experience the 2008 presidential campaign and the final “100 Days” of the 2008 New Hampshire Primary firsthand – that he credits as a pivotal moment in his college career, reinforcing his belief that politics could indeed make a difference.  As Bacon and other students traveled to New Hampshire to observe the primary process and speak to voters, he began to understand the importance of engaging and debating political issues to a healthy democracy.  “We saw honest, unscripted discussions between the candidates and the people of New Hampshire. That experience helped re-charge my batteries and get me back into the zone of being interested and involved in politics,” said Bacon. 

Bacon learned which political issue-area was most important to him – national security policy – while researching the topic for the HPR’s Annual Report of the USA, a yearly look at America’s spending priorities in key issue areas.  That project ultimately led Bacon to an internship after graduation in 2011 with the Center for a New American Security, an organization where he “…fell in love with defense budgeting, looking for ways to efficiently reform American defense in order to better resource the Pentagon, ensuring that we maintain the world’s best military for years to come.” 

Bacon returned to Harvard in 2012 to work as a research assistant to Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs Director Graham Allison. His research has covered a number of topics – from the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis – yet his passion and primary research focus at the Center remains defense policy.  Bacon is excited to bolster his research abilities as an incoming student at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in the fall as he begins a two-year MPP degree.  “Ultimately, I want to work at the U.S. Department of Defense on ways to better budget and allocate our resources for the future of the U.S. military,” said Bacon.  “I know that by studying at HKS and throwing myself into the rigorous quantitative curriculum provided by the school, I can take my skills to the next level to be ready to solve these and other national security challenges.”

In recognition of his commitment to public service, the Institute is pleased to announce Peter Bacon has been named the Institute’s 2014 John C. Culver Institute of Politics Scholarship winner in support of his work toward a Master in Public Policy (MPP) degree.  The Culver Scholarship is a merit-based opportunity for students active as undergraduates with the Institute’s programming to receive financial support toward a graduate degree at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).  As the Institute is dedicated to inspiring students into a life of politics, public service and leadership, the scholarship furthers that mission by providing assistance to IOP alumni to enhance their educational experience at HKS. 

Past scholarship recipients include Frankie Assaf (SAC 2010), Quinnie Lin (SAC 2008), Jay Lundy (SAC 2009), Meghan Haggerty (SAC 2006), Emily Nielson (SAC 2004), Eli Rosenbaum (SAC 2005) and Siri Uotila (SAC 2010).