Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar Dissertation Fellowships are awarded to outstanding doctoral students. The fellowships support one year of dissertation research and writing on topics addressing the sources, nature, prevention, and management of international conflict. This year we are pleased to be supporting six Peace Scholars who are conducting their dissertation research across the globe. To learn more, read their biographies below.
Current Peace Scholars
Noel Anderson is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an affiliate of the MIT Security Studies Program. He holds a B.A. in Peace and Conflict, International Relations and Political Science from the University of Toronto. His research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Smith Richardson Foundation and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, among others. Prior to beginning graduate school, Noel worked for the Irish Department of Justice, as well as the Independent Monitoring Commission, an independent body which monitored paramilitarism and security normalization in Northern Ireland.
Noel’s dissertation explains temporal variation in the global incidence and duration of civil war by exploring how inter-state competition affects intra-state conflict through the mechanism of competitive intervention—two-sided, simultaneous military assistance from different third-party states to both government and rebel combatants. The dissertation models the distortionary effects competitive interventions have on domestic bargaining processes, describes the unique strategic dilemmas they entail for third-party interveners and links their varying prevalence to international systemic change. In doing so, it moves beyond popular anecdotes of “proxy wars” by deriving theoretically-grounded propositions about the strategic logics motivating competitive intervention in civil wars. It also uncovers a heretofore overlooked feature of this form of intervention—namely, that “not losing” is often more important than “winning” from the perspective of third-party interveners under the shadow of inadvertent escalation. The dissertation’s results shed new light on the international dimensions of civil war, address ongoing debates concerning the utility of military aid as a foreign policy instrument, and inform policy prescriptions aimed at resolving some of today’s most violent conflicts.
McKenzie Johnson is a Ph.D. candidate in the University Program in environmental policy at Duke University. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2014 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship. Prior to starting her doctoral research at Duke, McKenzie worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Afghanistan (2007-2010) to assist the government in developing conservation policy. McKenzie graduated from Vassar College with an A.B. in environmental studies (minor in Biology) and received an M.A. in conservation biology from Columbia University.
McKenzie's research focuses on the relationship between environmental governance, conflict and peacebuilding. Her dissertation examines environmental governance efforts across a continuum of conflict countries: Ghana (non-conflict country with ongoing localized conflict over high-value natural resources), Sierra Leone (post-conflict country where high-value natural resources played an important role in conflict) and Afghanistan (conflict country with high-value natural resource potential). McKenzie aims to assess how interventions to improve environmental governance at the national level – especially institutional change – impact possibilities for conflict management and/or peacebuilding across subnational levels. In particular, she utilizes an empirically driven, field-based approach to analyze how actors across scale perceive linkages between resource governance and conflict. She recently completed 8 months of fieldwork in Ghana and plans to travel to Sierra Leone in January. McKenzie's most recent work has been published in Global Environmental Change and Biological Conservation.
Christina H. Kim
“Rethinking the “Hermit Kingdom”: Emerging Relations with North Korea from the Ground Up in Dandong, China”
The New School for Social Research, Department of Anthropology
Christina H. Kim is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at the New School for Social Research (NSSR). She holds an M.A. in cultural anthropology from Hanyang University (Seoul, South Korea) and a B.A. in anthropology and sociology from University of California, Irvine. She is the recipient of several awards, including the NSSR Dissertation Fellowship, the Kathryn Davis Peace Fellowship for Middlebury Chinese School and the Social Science Research Council Korean Studies Dissertation Workshop 2015. In Korea, Christina worked closely with the North Korean community through several NGOs and also assisted in research projects commissioned by the South Korean Ministry of Reunification.
Christina’s dissertation focuses on how we might better understand and engage with North Korea by examining formal and informal economic practices between North Korea and the wider world through the Chinese border city of Dandong. Despite a hostile political atmosphere, such economic activities in and through Dandong are increasing, engendering a dense network of institutional relations and prompting speculations about the future of North Korea and the wider region. To date, there has not been a comprehensive on-the-ground study of North Korean labor and business and their implications for regional coexistence. Based on fourteen months of fieldwork (2013-2014), Christina's research analyzes how emerging networks of relations reconfigure North Korea’s place in the world and offers suggestions for peaceful international relations.
Adam Lichtenheld is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He holds a B.A. in political science, international studies, and African studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation analyzes the links between forced displacement, conflict and governance in the Middle East and Africa, and his other research explores the efficacy of U.N. peacekeeping, the determinants of political violence and the impact of displacement on nationalism and identity construction. Adam has written for U.N. Dispatch and the Washington Post's Monkey Cage. He previously worked in the Middle East as a journalist for National Geographic and other publications, served as a Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow in Washington, D.C., and managed post-conflict foreign assistance and political transition programs in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Iraq and Libya on behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), including its Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). Based in Turkey, he continues to serve as a consultant for USAID programs worldwide.
Stephanie's current research and policy work analyzes the politics of violence and mediation amid civil war. In particular, Stephanie examines the nexus of civil war and migration in East and Central Africa. Previously, she worked with the U.S. Institute of Peace as a senior program specialist on Sudan/South Sudan and issues related to youth and conflict. She is the author of Agents of Change: Youth in Post-Conflict Reconstruction. The book challenges prior notions of the impact of the global youth population bulge. She was named as one of the 'Top 99 under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders' in 2012 by Diplomatic Courier and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.
Stephanie’s dissertation examines the political impact of return migration after civil war. Violence wrought by civil war forces millions of people to flee their homes. While scholars have demonstrated how these population movements can spread and exacerbate conflict, return-migration is assumed to be a purely logistical issue. Once the war is over, people will simply return home and pick up where they left off. Yet, conflict between returning and non-migrant populations is a nearly ubiquitous issue for post-conflict societies from South Sudan to Iraq and Rwanda. Why does return-migration—usually a sign of increased peace and stability— so often lead to conflict? To understand this puzzle, Stephanie uses political ethnographic data collection methods, including semi-structured interviews, documents and archive analysis, in the primary case of Burundi to test a theory of the political impact of return migration. She then uses comparative case studies to demonstrate how the theory works across civil war contexts. By providing an explanation for how an often-ignored but ubiquitous consequence of civil war – the return of displaced populations – affects post-conflict communities this project will generate a more holistic account of the dynamics of violence after civil war and help advance both the study and the practice of post-conflict peace building.
Lauren is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University. She is a Mellon Interdisciplinary Fellow and her dissertation research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, International Peace Research Association and the Earth Institute. She has done fieldwork for her academic projects in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Liberia and Hungary, and has also worked with a range of international organizations including UN OCHA and the International Rescue Committee on the evaluation and analysis of humanitarian and conflict reduction interventions.
Lauren’s dissertation examines how and why coercive violence influences voters during elections. The U.S. government spends billions per year on democracy and governance assistance in foreign countries. Nevertheless, one in five elections in Africa since 1990 has been afflicted by significant levels of violence, which impedes citizens from freely voting for their preferred candidates. Identifying when coercive violence, often in the form of state repression, causes voters to submit and when it increases resistance is critical to effectively reducing its negative impact on the quality of elections. This study uses the case of Zimbabwe to understand how citizens make decisions about politics when faced with the threat of violence. More generally, explores how the emotional impact of violent threats affect perceptions of risks and participation in pro-democracy collective action. Understanding these dynamics of intimidation and resistance can help improve efforts to monitor elections and inform interventions to improve resilience in the face of threats.