Miller Center

Miller Center National Fellowship

Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, the National Fellowship Program, a longstanding initiative of the Miller Center, will fall under the leadership of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at U.Va.. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation, created in 1980, currently offers the premier graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship at the University. To learn more about the National Fellows Program, including how to apply, click here.

Meet The Fellows

Seth Center - History, University of Virginia

Project: Spreading the American Dream?: Power, Image, and U.S. Diplomacy, 1968–1976

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Seth Center is a Historian in the Special Projects Division of the Office of the Historian at the U.S. Department of State.

His principal duty consists of conducting policy-supportive historical analyses. He serves as historian for Deputy Secretary William J. Burns. 

Center is researching, writing, and managing the “Iraq History Project” focused on the role of diplomacy and diplomats in Iraq between 2003 and 2012. He is researching and writing the history of public diplomacy and “The War of Ideas” requested by the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. On the request of policymakers, including the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Under Secretary, he produces short historical analyses and briefs to support budget justifications, policy formulation, and Congressional testimony. He is researching and writing a “Lessons Learned” study on historical case studies of learning in intelligence and policy for the Director of National Intelligence “Lessons Learned” initiative. In this role he supports historically-based departmental “Lessons Learned” projects with other bureaus and interagency partners including the intelligence community and military. Other duties include advising department principals on preserving and managing historical records; serving on the Department’s Electronic Records Working Group for the Under Secretary for Management; conducting oral histories with current and former officials including Secretaries of State, diplomats, military officers, and intelligence professionals; and briefing/lecturing internal government (diplomatic, intelligence, and military) audiences on US foreign policy, military and intelligence policy and history, and State Department history.

Center's dissertation examined how America's image-makers in the United States Information Agency defined America's image problems in the midst of the turmoil and transformations of the 1970s, designed a program focused on the Bicentennial of the American Revolution to allay global anxiety and hostility, and implemented public diplomacy effort overseas. It concluded with an analysis of the international response to the campaign. 

Selected Recent Publications

The Evolution of American Public Diplomacy: Four Historical Insights, State Department Fact Sheet (December 2, 2013).

Larycia Hawkins - Political Science, University of Oklahoma

Project: Framing the Faith-Based Initiative: Black Church Elites and the Black Policy Agenda

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Fellowship year: 2007

Mentor: Drew Smith, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Larycia Hawkins the Abd el-Kader Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia

Prior to obtaining her Ph.D., Hawkins worked in state government administering federal programs, including the Social Security Disability Programs and the Community Development Block Grant. 

Dr. Hawkins’ research interests lie at the intersection of race, religion, and politics.  She is currently working to publish her dissertation, Framing the Faith-Based Initiative: Black Church Elites and the Black Policy Agenda.  Her active research agenda includes projects that explore the extent to which black theology frames black political rhetoric and how black theology is reflected on black political agendas, like those of the  Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP; and a project that considers the political activism of black congregations outside the ambit of the black church (i.e. black Catholic parishes, United Church of Christ).

Hawkins's dissertation asked: Is the black agenda collective or disparate? Evidence of a disconnect between black mass opinion and the policy agenda of black political elites necessitates scholarly inquiry. For example, 81% of African Americans and Hispanics are favorably disposed toward government-funding of faith-based social services, higher than the 68% of White Americans and 75% of the national sample registering similar support. Yet, the legislative agendas of the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP reveal the active efforts of black political and civic elites to oppose the Faith-Based and Community Initiative. Hawkins's dissertation examined this disconnect via the black policy agenda with reference to how the black church, the seminal institution of black society, figures into this puzzle. Her dissertation also determined which policy images contribute to the black political dynamic with regard to the Faith-Based and Community Initiative. Specifically, Hawkins demonstrated how black pastors define the Faith-Based and Community Initiative and how pastoral definitions of political issues influence the broader black political process, including black politicians and the black policy agenda.

Selected Recent Publications

Religion and American Politics: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives, with Amy Black and Doug Koopman (Pearson, 2011)

Sarah Kreps - Government, Georgetown University

Project: Power, Arms, and Allies: U.S. Multilateralism in an Age of Unipolarity

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Sarah Kreps is an Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University and the co-director of the Cornell Law School International Law-International Relations Colloquium.

Kreps' research focuses on issues of international security, particularly questions of conflict and cooperation, alliance politics, political economy, and nuclear proliferation. Current projects examine the effect of war on domestic institutions; the ethics of conflict; and the relationship between financial costs of war and democratic accountability.

Her dissertation asked: Why does the unipolar power often intervene multilaterally when it has the capacity to act alone? What explains the variation between the broad multilateralism associated with interventions such as the first Gulf War and, conversely, cases in which the U.S. is more willing to exercise its freedom of action and intervene more unilaterally, as in the 2003 Iraq war? Kreps's dissertation addressed these questions through a combination of theoretical and empirical work on U.S.-led interventions since 1945. Kreps discussed the role of domestic politics, normative constraints, international structure, and the "shadow of the future" on U.S. decisions to intervene multilaterally when a unilateral option is available. Ultimately, her research explained why and under what conditions the hegemony intervenes multilaterally against a weaker adversary and when the U.S. privileges unilateral approaches to intervention.

Selected Recent Publications

Coalitions of Convenience: United States Military Interventions after the Cold War (Oxford University Press, 2011).

"The Next Drone Wars: Preparing for Profileration.Foreign Affairs, March/April 2014.

"Ground the Drones? The Real Problem with Unmanned Aircraft.Foreign Affairs, 4 December 2013.

"Political Parties at War: A Study of American War Finance, 1789-2010." with Gustavos Flores-Macias, American Political Science Review 107, No. 4 (November 2013): 833-848.

Katie Otis - History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Project: Everything Old is New Again: What Policymakers and Baby Boomers Can Learn from the History of Aging and Retirement

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Katie Otis is a visiting Lecturer in the History Department at the University of North Carolina.

Otis's dissertation explored the history of aging in mid-to-late 20th-century America through the lens of retirement life in Florida, a state long synonymous with shuffleboard and park benches. She explained that Social security and private pensions sparked the growth of mass retirement among the working and middle classes. On the whole, seniors are healthier and wealthier than ever before. Their growing numbers, moreover, captured the attention of politicians, policymakers, and advocacy groups who worked to improve the quality of later life. The need for dignified, cost-effective elder care remained woefully unfulfilled. Drawing on government documents, gerontological studies, popular retirement literature, and oral histories, Otis's work melded institutional and political history with the cultural and social experiences of aging in the postwar world to give voice to older Americans as they negotiated the promises and pitfalls of old age and retirement.

Joy Rohde - History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania

Project: "The Social Scientists' War": Expertise in a Cold War Nation

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Joy Rohde is Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan

Rohde specializes in U.S. national security policy and the history of science. She is interested broadly in the role that scientific experts—especially social scientists—play in American national security and foreign policy. Her book, Armed with Expertise: The Militarization of American Social Research during the Cold War, investigates the Cold War origins and contemporary consequences of the Pentagon’s social research contracting system. Her current research projects include a study of the role social scientists play in the Global War on Terror and a longitudinal study of the myriad ways the American state has deployed cultural knowledge over the last century to understand, manage, and control its perceived enemies.

In the late 1950s, Army officials and civilian social scientists joined forces to combat the spread of communism to the so-called "emerging nations" of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This fusion of social science and statecraft reached its acme at the Special Operations Research Office (SORO), an interdisciplinary research institute created in 1956 by the Army and American University. For 15 years SORO's political scientists, social psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists worked with Pentagon officials to illuminate the complex social processes involved in the creation of stable, democratic nations. But as the Vietnam War intensified in the late 1960s, a vocal community of academicians lambasted their Army-funded peers as servants of a war-mongering state, forcing SORO's closure in 1969. Rather than severing their close ties to the American state, however, SORO's experts relocated to a network of Washington think tanks and consulting agencies. From there, social scientists continued to influence American national security policy while the authority of their academic counterparts waned. Rohde's dissertation used the case of SORO to examine the multifaceted ways that social knowledge and state power extended, shaped, and reinforced one another during the Cold War.

Selected Recent Publications

"Police militarization is a legacy of cold war paranoia." The Conversation, October 22, 2014.

Armed with Expertise: The Militarization of American Social Research during the Cold War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013). 

From Expert Democracy to Beltway Banditry: How the Anti-War Movement Expanded the Military-Academic-Industrial Complex.” in Mark Solovey and Hamilton Cravens, eds., Cold War Social Science: Knowledge Production, Liberal Democracy, and Human Nature (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012): 137-53.

The Last Stand of the Psychocultural Cold Warriors: Military Contract Research in Vietnam.Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 47 (2011): 232-50.

Robert Saldin - Politics, University of Virginia

Project: War and American Political Development: Parties, State Building, and Democratic Rights Policy

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Robert Saldin is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Montana, the Director of the Project on American Democracy and Citizenship, and a Fellow in Ethics and Public Affairs at the Mansfield Center.

Saldin's dissertation examined how wars affect American politics from the outside in and argued that they provide an explanatory framework that ties American state development, policy making, elections, and political parties together. In contrast to much of the existing American Political Development and Realignment literature, which focus solely on domestic factors, Saldin's project argued that wars affect American politics in several ways. He discussed how a greater appreciation of war's domestic impact offers guidance in understanding current domestic and international events.

Selected Recent Publications

War, the American State, and Politics Since 1898 (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

"What War's Good For: Minority Rights Expansions in American Political Development." in New Directions in American Politics, ed. Raymond La Raja (Routledge, 2013).

"William McKinley and the Rhetorical Presidency." Presidential Studies Quarterly 41, no. 1 (2011).

Kevin Wallsten - Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

Project: Political Blogs and the Bloggers Who Blog Them: An Analysis of the Who's, What's and Why's of Political Blogging

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Kevin Wallsten is Assistant Professor of Political Science at California State University in Long Beach.

Despite the recent explosion in blogging, there have been relatively few empirical studies of the political blogging phenomenon. Wallsten's research project situated the role of political blogs in the American political system by addressing four sets of interrelated questions. First, who blogs and why? Second, do political bloggers use their blogs primarily as "soapboxes" (meaning they are expressions of personal opinions), "transmission belts" (meaning they simply provide links to websites or quote sources with little or no commentary from the blogger), "mobilizers" (meaning they are calls to action) or "listening posts" (meaning they elicit feedback from their audience)? Third, to the extent that these actors use their blogs as soapboxes for expressing their opinions, what is the content of this political expression? Finally, what impact are political blogs having on public discourse, mainstream media coverage and the policy making process? Taken together, the answers to these questions shed light on what the emergence of political blogs means for the quality and functioning of democracy in the United States.

Selected Recent Publications

"Racial prejudice is driving opposition to paying college athletes. Here’s the evidence." with Tatishe M. Nteta and Lauren A. McCarthy, The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post (December 30, 2015)

"Why American Catholics may not be persuaded by Pope Francis’s message on immigration." with Tatishe Nteta, The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post (September 27, 2015) 

"It’s time to end anonymous comments sections." with Melinda Tarsi, The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post (August 19, 2014).

Old Media, New Media Sources: The Blogosphere’s Influence on Print Media News Coverage.” International Journal of E-Politics 4, no. 2 (July 2013). 

Derek Webb - Political Science, University of Notre Dame

Project: Paving the Rights Infrastructure: Civic Education in the Presidencies of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt

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Fellowship year: 2007

Mentor: William Galston, The Brookings Institution

Derek Webb is Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University

Webb joined the Constitutional Law Center as a fellow in 2012.  He works in the fields of constitutional law, statutory interpretation, American political theory, and legal history.  His publications include articles in Law and History Review, the American Journal of Legal History, and the South Carolina Law Review, as well as a co-authored book about Anti-Federalists in New York.  Derek is the winner of the Warren E. Burger Prize from the American Inns of Court and the William B. Spong Moot Court Tournament at William and Mary Law School.  After receiving his B.A. in philosophy from Yale University, he earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Notre Dame and a J.D. from Georgetown University.  He has held research and teaching fellowships at the University of Virginia and Princeton University and summer clerkships in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.  In 2014 and 2015, Derek was a Supreme Court Fellowship in the Office of the Counselor to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.

Through a comparative study of civic education in the presidencies of Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, Webb extended and challenged the role of "liberal virtues" in American politics. In his dissertation, Webb extended the thesis that liberalism requires a range of civic virtues. Webb showed how different kinds of rights have required fundamentally different kinds of citizen virtue for their support. Challenging the thesis that liberalism embodies a comprehensive and self-sustaining conception of the good life, Webb showed how liberal ends have occasionally been achieved through reliance upon the moral ideals of complementary yet distinct non-liberal traditions.

Selected Recent Publications

Fitting Together Uneven Planks: The Constitution and the Spirit of Compromise, Constitution Daily, February 25, 2013.

Doubting a Little of One's Infallibility: The Real Miracle at Philadelphia, Constitution Daily, January 18, 2013.

The "Spirit of Amity": The Constitution's Cover Letter and Civic Friendship, Constitution Daily, December 13, 2012.

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