Making Sense of Capitalism

Ai Hisano

Ai Hisano

Job Title

Harvard-Newcomen Fellow in Business History, 2016-17
My experiences at HBS allowed me to think through the role of history, as well as the significance of my research, in business strategies and people’s everyday lives today.

Being a Newcomen Fellow was an eye-opening experience. As an historian by training, the business school provided me with tremendous resources and opportunities to meet scholars from diverse backgrounds, engage with new questions, and expand and refine the intellectual boundaries of my projects.

I appreciate the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities at Harvard. I gained valuable knowledge and new ideas through numerous research seminars, workshops, and conferences at Harvard Business School, as well as at other Harvard schools and departments. A conference I organized—“Capitalism and the Senses”— was an invaluable experience for me to develop scholarly networks and to revisit my own research, which examines the sensory experience of food marketing in the early twentieth century. I also enjoyed assisting and auditing MBA classes and talking with journalists for interviews. These new experiences allowed me to think through the role of history, as well as the significance of my research, in business strategies and people’s everyday lives today.

The scope and depth of my project expanded substantially at HBS. The fellowship provided resources for conducting additional research to revise my dissertation into a book manuscript, while librarians, special collection curators, and researchers at Baker Research Services helped me identify sources and develop new ideas for my research.

I was also extremely fortunate to talk regularly with scholars from various disciplines at and outside of the business school. Their insights, questions, and critiques allowed me to situate my project in a broader context and sharpen my argument. I now have a much clearer vision of my project and my future academic career.