About Visiting Fellows Program

  • IOP Visiting Fellow, Mitch Landrieu, Former Mayor of New Orleans, leads a Study Group conversation during the Fall 2018 semester.

  • Antonio Villaraigosa Former Mayor of Los Angeles, California, leads a Study Group as an IOP Visiting Fellow.


Each semester the Institute of Politics invites a select number of prominent political practitioners to Harvard to serve as Visiting Fellows for a shorter period of time than a full academic semester of a resident fellowship. The Visiting Fellows program brings distinguished veterans of public life for a short, yet comprehensive stay; often a week. The program is designed to provide maximum contact with the University community, particularly undergraduate students. Each fellowship is individually tailored to the background of the visiting fellow, as well as his/her calendar availability.

The experience is compact and the schedule is more intense than a resident fellowship. A Visiting Fellow can expect to participate in at least three events daily.   The Fellow often will lead at least one 90-minute study group during the week-long visit.  Study groups offer the guest the opportunity to share his/her views and experiences in a meaningful way with students. 

Most events are with students (both undergraduate and graduate) and occasionally meetings are arranged with faculty from the Kennedy School and throughout Harvard.  Events are closed to press and not for attribution. The discussions typically occur with a relatively small group of around 30 students. Like most Fellows’ events at the IOP, these discussions do not require much if any preparation. They are discussion based and the conversation is driven by the questions posed by the audience and the views and anecdotes presented by the Visiting Fellow.  Additionally, Fellows have the opportunity to audit one or two Harvard courses based on availability.

As with the Resident Fellows program, Visiting Fellows are assigned undergraduate students who serve as his/her guide and support team over the course of the week.  Known as “liaisons,” these students assist the Fellow in navigating schedules, preparing for presentations and counseling the fellow on the audience expectations and goals.

Visiting Fellows are provided a private office with a computer and phone for their use. There is a small staff to assist the Fellow during their stay. Visiting Fellows are provided a  modest stipend.

Recent visiting fellows have included Ambassador Tim Roemer; former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN); former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; former Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao; former Prime Minister of Haiti, Michèle Pierre-Louis; former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Gordon Brown and former Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou.