Miller Center

Miller Center Fellows 2006 – 2007

Seth Center

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

Seth Center, University of Virginia
Mentor: Emily Rosenberg, Macalester College

Seth Center is a Ph.D. candidate of History at the University of Virginia.

Center's dissertation examined how America's image-makers in the United States Information Agency (USIA) 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. Center's study made three important contributions: First, it challenged an important assumption about the motivating ideology of the U.S. government's cultural and propaganda mission. Second, it illuminated a transformative epoch in the philosophical and institutional development of American public diplomacy. Third, it introduced a provocative view about the nature of American exceptionalism revealed by the unexpectedly positive reaction to the Bicentennial abroad.


Larycia Hawkins

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

Larycia Hawkins, University of Oklahoma
Mentor: R. Drew Smith, Scholar-in-Residence at the Leadership Center at Morehouse College

Larycia Hawkins is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.

She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma. 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.

Recent Publications:

Religion and American Politics: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives, with Amy Black and Doug Koopman (Pearson, 2011)
“A Live Wire? The Politics of Electricity Deregulation in Oklahoma.” Oklahoma Policy Studies Review, (2002)

Sarah Kreps

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

Sarah Kreps, Georgetown University
Mentor: Jeff Legro, University of Virginia

Sarah Kreps is Assistant Professor of Government at Cornell University, the co-director of the Cornell Law School International Law- International Relations Colloquium, and an affiliate of the Einaudi Center for International Studies’ Foreign Policy Initiative.

Kreps was a former member on the Council of Foreign Relations, research fellow at the Belfer Center's International Security Program and a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Institute for International Law and Politics. She was also an adjunct professor of Political Science at George Washington University (2005–07). Kreps received a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University, M.Sc. in Environmental Change from Oxford University and a B.A. in Public Policy from Harvard University. She also served as active officer in the United States Air Force (1999–2003) and has been a reservist since 2003.

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.

Recent Publications:

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

Katie Otis

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

Katie Otis, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Mentor: Andy Achenbaum, University of Houston

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

Katie Otis received her Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 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

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

Joy Rohde, University of Pennsylvania
Mentor: Ellen Herman, University of Oregon

Joy Rohde is Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.  Her research integrates the study of science policy with American political, diplomatic, and intellectual history. Her current areas of interest include: the role of think tanks in the creation of national security policy; the role of values, politics, and public participation in science policy; social science and the War on Terror; and the history of U.S. social science in the Cold War. She is currently writing a book entitled The Social Scientists' War: Knowledge, Statecraft, and Democracy in the Era of Containment. In 2007, Joy Rohde was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Rohde received her Ph.D. in History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania.

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.

Recent Publications:

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

"The Last Stand of the Psychocultural Cold Warriors: Military Contract Research in Vietnam." Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, (2011)
"Gray Matters: Social Scientists, Military Patronage, and Democracy in the Cold War." Journal of American History, (June 2009)

Robert Saldin

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

Robert Saldin, University of Virginia
Mentor: David Mayhew, Yale University

Robert Saldin is Associate Professor of American Government and Politics at the University of Montana.

In 2008, Saldin held the Patrick Henry Postdoctoral Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. Saldin received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. 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.

Recent Publications:
War, the American State, and Politics Since 1898 (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
“William McKinley and the Rhetorical Presidency.” Presidential Studies Quarterly, (2011)


Kevin Wallsten

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

Kevin Wallsten, University of California, Berkeley
Mentor: Michael Schudson, University of California, San Diego

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

Wallsten received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. 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.

Recent Publications:

“Many Sources, One Message: Political Blog Links to Online Videos during the 2008 Campaign.” Journal of Political Marketing, (February 2011)
“‘Yes We Can’: How Online Viewership, Blog Discussion, Campaign Statements and Mainstream Media Coverage Produced a Viral Video Phenomenon.” Journal of Information, Technology, and Politics (March 2010)

Derek Webb

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

Derek Webb, University of Notre Dame
Mentor: William Galston, University of Maryland

Derek Webb is a Fellow of Constitutional Law Center at Stanford University.

In 2008, Derek Webb became a Postdoctoral Fellow with the James Madison Program at Princeton University. Webb had previously been a Presidential Fellow at the University of Notre Dame. Currently, Webb is working on his book, Civic Liberalism in America: Private Rights and the Public Good in Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. Webb received his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 2008.

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.