Celebrating our first year as the Buffett Institute

February 5, 2016

Roberta Buffett giftIn February 2015, Roberta Buffett Elliott’s historic $100 million gift to Northwestern allowed the Buffett Center to transform into an Institute. Thanks to her generosity and vision, we have already begun to build signature world-class research programs while continuing to implement and enhance programs, opportunities, engagement, and support for the Northwestern community.

Thanks to the gift, in in our first year the Buffett Institute introduced:

3 new major faculty research groups

5 new working groups

4 new global partnerships with universities around the globe

  • Center for Global Culture and Communications: This partnership with London School of Economics focuses on changing the global media and communications landscape
  • Program of African Studies (PAS) partnership with various African institutes and universities to study violence and state politics
  • French Interdisciplinary Group (FIG) partnership with various French universities that promotes research and exchange
  • Comparative and Historical Social Sciences (CHSS) partnership with the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne 

4 new postdoctoral fellowships for emerging scholars

  • Buffett Postdocs 2015Buffett Postdoctoral Fellows are scholars whose research addresses global, international, or transnational social processes, problems, governance, or conflicts, from any of a range of social science or interdisciplinary perspectives. In December 2015, accepted almost 400 applications for its next round of postdoctoral fellowships for 2016-2018.

Graduate student funding

Thanks to the gift, 2015 was an exceptional year for graduate student funding. Buffett was able to award more than 40 dissertation research and travel grants for graduate students at double the award amount of 2014. 

The Buffett Institute awarded funding for a graduate student organized conference. The inaugural conference, titled "Islam and the Modern State," will take place on April 7-8, 2016. Applications for funding the next conference in 2017 are due April 1, 2016.

Global Engagement funding & programs expand

Global Engagement at the Buffett Institute underwent a significant expansion in 2015, allowing us to offer several new opportunities to undergraduates: 

  • We partnered with Northwestern’s Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP) to create the Buffett Institute International SIGP Award, which expands opportunities for international internships for undergraduates that facilitate career exploration, experiential learning, and research, regardless of financial resources.
  • The Community-Based Research (CBR) Fellowship also launched in 2015, which provides funds and academic support for students to conduct research projects abroad as well as provide assessments of past GESI projects. 
  • Thanks to a new partnership with the One Acre Fund (OAF), the Buffett Institute now offers a two-year paid post-baccalaureate fellowship in East Africa for a Northwestern senior. Founded by Northwestern alum Andrew Youn, OAF is a social enterprise that helps farmers increase food production and reduce hunger and poverty. After several interviews, One Acre Fund hired Carrie Langhauser (WCAS 2015) as a junior program associate in Uganda, where she began working last fall. 
UGER story
  • GESI continues to be one of the most popular study abroad programs at Northwestern. GESI added Kenya as a new program location for Fall 2015. The program also awarded a record number of scholarships and financial aid to its participants. For GESI 2015, 78% of students were awarded full or partial scholarships and financial aid, and over 70% of GESI students were from underrepresented groups. 
  • We launched the Buffett Award for Emerging Global Leaders. Our inaugural winner, Khalida Brohi, a 26-year-old social entrepreneur and activist from Pakistan, was announced in fall 2015 and will be speaking on Northwestern’s campus on April 13, 2016. 

GESI wins awards for diversity and innovation

  • In January 2016 the Ashoka Foundation awarded GESI the Ashoka U Cordes Innovation Award for being a leader in innovation, impact, maturity, and potential for replicability in higher education. 

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