The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Honors Alum Meir Y. Barth Awarded Gates Scholarship at University of Cambridge

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Meir Yishai Barth, ’18, has recently been awarded a Gates Scholarship to attend the University of Cambridge. Barth, who received his bachelor’s degree with individual concentration (BDIC) in social philosophy and communication theory, will spend his time at Cambridge writing “The Theory of Everyone,” a blueprint for a world in which everyone is supported to fulfill their potential.

Yishai, who identifies as neuro- and physio-divergent and has been a life-long advocate for the "disability" community, pays homage to Cambridge's own Stephen Hawking through his desire to create a fundamental change in cultural mass consciousness. He also relates to the late scholar in that many of the accessibility services he benefited from during his time at UMass were originally developed at Cambridge when Hawking became a faculty member.

Finding inspiration from Hawking, Barth’s project focuses on what “a society looks like that is designed to promote cooperative synergy between abilities.” With “The Theory of Everyone” Barth hopes to shine light on an all-inclusive paradigm that utilizes assistive technology to allow all people to realize their best selves and accomplish their goals.

“People have all kinds of hidden disabilities and inabilities,” Barth said. “I believe strongly that there is a combination of tools that can be taken in to become better versions of our bodies and minds—and I believe going on the quest for the best technological configuration to empower yourself.”

Among the mentors that Barth credits for his success are Commonwealth Honors Associate Dean Alexandrina Deschamps and CHC senior lecturer Brion Dulac.

“UMass prepared me to be a scholar at one of the highest-level academic institutions in the world,” Barth said. “I’m going to do great things with my life.”

To read more on Barth’s story, project, and scholarship, please visit the UMass Gateway feature page.