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Faculty News and Updates

In keeping with its mission to advance and disseminate knowledge and understanding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York announced 35 recipients of the 2017 Andrew Carnegie fellowships, with awards totaling $7 million. One of the winners is Professor Nathan Kelly. The program recognizes an exceptional group of both established and emerging scholars, journalists, and authors with the goal of strengthening democracy in the United States, driving technological and cultural creativity, exploring global connections and global ruptures, and improving both natural and human environments. 

The award will allow Kelly substantial time to focus on his ongoing research on the causes and consequences of income concentration. His primary focus during the award period will be completing his book, America's Inequality Trap, which explores how rising inequality shapes American politics in ways that make reducing inequality harder. He is also work on a project focused on the economic policy agenda in Congress and a project examining "Exclusionary Democracy" in the western hemisphere.

Each year as part of the fellows program, the Carnegie Corporation seeks nominations from more than 600 leaders representing a range of universities, think tanks, publishers, independent scholars, and nonprofit organizations nationwide. For the class of 2017, they nominated some 200 candidates whose proposals were reviewed and rated by panels of prominent scholars, educators, and intellectuals. 

The judges were asked to consider the merits of each proposal based on its originality, promise, and potential impact on a particular field of scholarship. Kelly is the first UT professor and one of only four SEC political scientists to have received this prestigious award, which is among the most generous awards in the social sciences and humanities. Kelly will be spending the first year of the Carnegie award at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City where he will be a visiting scholar. Receiving both of these awards in the same year is an amazing accomplishment and a testament to the quality and importance of Kelly's work.

Professor Jana Morgan received a prestigious residential fellowship from the Russell Sage Foundation as part of its Visiting Scholars program for the 2017-2018 academic year. Professor Morgan will spend the year at the foundation in New York City working on research projects pertaining to inequality, representation, and marginalization in the Americas. The first project explores the influence of wealthy interests on the congressional agenda and analyzes why politicians have not pursued a policy agenda designed to reduce economic inequality in the United States. Her other project investigates how ethnic and racial hierarchies, which have endured despite the advent of formal democratic rules across Latin America, shapes how citizens view democracy and engage the political process. 

Professor Anthony Nownes received a senior-level award in Excellence in Research/Creative Achievement from the College of Arts and Sciences at our annual faculty awards dinner. The award recognizes faculty excellence in research and creative achievement at three levels: the early career, midcareer, and senior career.

Nownes is a nationally recognized leader in the area of interest groups and has been a productive scholar for years. In the past three years, he published a solo-authored book, edited another book (a major volume in the field), and has a book in progress. Over the same time period, he has published seven peer reviewed articles and six chapters in edited volumes. His research continues to break new ground. He has taken the lead on research on interest groups that advocate for LBGT issues that will define the field for the foreseeable future. Professor Nownes is in the process of wrapping up his well-known experiment on the effects of celebrity endorsements on voter emotion. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post on the issue of celebrity endorsements. Through his scholarship, Nownes has enhanced the visibility of the university and the department.

Professor Krista Wiegand spent five months as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in the Philippines during spring and summer 2017. She was based in the Department of International Studies at De La Salle University in Manila, where she conducted research about the role of the Philippines in the contentious South China Sea dispute with China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. She spent most of her time interviewing current and former government officials, scholars, and experts about Philippine foreign policies related to the maritime dispute. Wiegand also gave several talks at universities in Manila, at the University of Brunei Darussalam, the United States Embassy in Brunei, and at the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), sponsored jointly by the Foreign Service Institute, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the National Defense College of the Philippines. Wiegand is working on three papers based on her research and using the material for part of a book project. She will talk about her time as a Fulbright Senior Scholar at a Baker Café at the Baker Center (stay tuned for further details).

Buehler family (Matt, Elodie, and Thomas) on the steps of Harvard’s Widener library
Buehler family (Matt, Elodie, and Thomas) on the steps of Harvard’s Widener library

In spring and fall 2017, Professor Matt Buehler has held a research fellowship at Harvard University’s Middle East Initiative at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The Middle East Initiative, according to its website, aims to “build a community of scholars at Harvard that works to advance policy-relevant knowledge on the Middle East” through research, teaching, and engagement. As a fellow, Buehler has open time for concentrated writing and research related to his scholarship without teaching responsibilities. In spring 2017, he completed revisions to his book manuscript—Why Alliances Fail: Opposition Coalitions between Islamists and Leftists in North Africa—which is currently under review for future publication with Syracuse University Press.Additionally, he worked on a variety of other projects, including article manuscripts related to public attitudes towards legal reform, nuclear non-proliferation, and refugee resettlement in North Africa

Each month, the Middle East Initiative provides fellows a variety of activities and workshops to enrich their time while based at Harvard. These include a bi-monthly workshop where political scientists from Harvard, MIT, Brandeis, Boston College, and throughout the northeast present working papers on topics related to politics of the Middle East and North Africa. Fellows and faculty discuss the working papers and provide comments for revision. Additionally, each month the Middle East Initiative hosts a visiting senior faculty from another university who gives a lecture to fellows and affiliated faculty on his or her current research. Fellows are also expected to present a public lecture on their own research. Buehler will present a talk titled “Threat Perceptions and Public Support for Nuclear Proliferation: Evidence from an Original Survey in the Middle East.”

During his journey, Jennings had the opportunity to meet Bishop Desmond Tutu.
During his journey, Jennings had the opportunity to meet Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Will Jennings, a distinguished senior lecturer in political science, was on leave during spring 2017. He put the time to good use joining his family on a 13-country academic voyage through the Semester at Sea program. Living, learning, and teaching aboard the M.V. Odyssey with more than 600 undergraduates from across the world, the ship sailed from San Diego to Hamburg visiting ports in China, Japan, Vietnam, Burma, India, South Africa, Ghana, and Morocco along the way. Jennings designed in-country field classes for student in his Women and Global Development; Current World Problems; and Globalization, Sustainability, and Development courses. Students in Jennings's classes visited with human rights organizations in Burma, toured a township in South Africa, and conducted a dialogue on major political issues with college students in Morocco. Jennings looks forward to taking what he has learned aboard the ship to enrich his South Asian Politics, African Politics, and Political Change in Developing Areas courses he teaches in Knoxville.


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