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W&L's Zarakol Wins International Fellowship from Council on Foreign Relations

Ayşe Zarakol, assistant professor of politics at Washington and Lee University, has been awarded a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) International Affairs Fellowship for the 2012-2013 academic year.

CFR, a highly influential and bipartisan think tank, awards approximately 10 fellowships each year, with only a few going to academics. “I am very honored by my selection because the application process is very competitive,” said Zarakol.

The International Affairs Fellowship (IAF) program seeks to bring academics into the world of foreign policy and place people from the policy world into academics. Zarakol doesn’t yet know where she will be placed, but expects that it will be in the State Department or the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Wherever they place me, I should be working in an advisory capacity and at the same time observing how policy makers go about their business. Academics have a certain way of approaching world problems so I really want to see the concerns of policy makers, the day-to-day constraints they face and learn how they work,” she said.

Zarakol said that she hopes the experience will enrich her research on Turkey. “Because Turkey has recently started having aspirations of becoming a regional power and charting a course away from European Union membership,” she said, “I thought there was a need within American foreign policy to re-think how Turkey fits into the region, whether we’re talking about Europe, the Balkans or the Middle East.”

In her research, Zarakol compares Turkey to other would-be, rising or declining regional powers like Russia, Japan and Thailand. “I thought I could bring that research to bear on immediate policy questions such as the Arab Spring, where it’s uncertain where Turkey is going to fit. The Council seemed to like that,” she said.

In addition to her work, Zarakol is looking forward to attending CFR meetings. “This fellowship should give me the opportunity to broaden my own professional network outside of academia into the policy world and the think tank world. Hopefully, that will impact my ability to help Washington and Lee students find internships or full time positions after they graduate,” she said.

Zarakol joined the W&L faculty in 2007. She received her B.A. in political science from Middlebury College and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, also in political science, from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She is the author of the 2011 volume, After Defeat: How the East Learned to Live with the West (Cambridge University Press).

The IAF program is open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents between the ages of 27 and 35 and successful candidates generally hold advanced degrees and have a strong record of work experience and a firm grounding in the field of foreign policy. Learn more about the IAF program at its website.

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