Elliott School professor named Carnegie fellow

The director of the Project on Middle East Political Science became an Andrew Carnegie Fellow last month.

Marc Lynch, a professor of political science and international affairs, won the fellowship for a research proposal on violence in the new Arab public. He said he will spend the next two years writing a book based on his five years of research on the Arab Spring’s long-term effects on political culture and identity.

Though he has already published a book on the topic, Lynch said the fellowship will give him the chance to analyze the persistence of violence and conflict in the Middle East and to understand how modern advancements, like social media, have revolutionized access to information on these topics.

“These are all happening at the same time, on the heels of a period of exceptional hope for positive change, and they are happening in a new world of social media, where so much of the violence has been recorded and shared and preserved,” Lynch said.

Lynch said he will research the topic with cross-regional comparisons, interviews, surveys and an examination of media and popular culture.

The Andrew Carnegie fellowship is awarded by the Carnegie Corporation, the nation’s oldest grant-making foundation. The program was created in 2015, about 30 scholars “with grants of up to $200,000 each to support research on challenges to democracy and international order,” according to the foundation’s website.

Lynch is one of 33 recipients this year. Applicants must be nominated for the award by representatives at their institutions, rather than applying to it themselves.

“It’s a major honor to be selected,” Lynch said.

Bruce Dickson, chair of the political science department, said Lynch’s appointment is a good representation of the research coming out of the department.

“It was great to find out that our faculty are getting these kinds of very prestigious awards,” said Dickson. “For Marc in particular, this is an area that he has worked on a lot and is really one of the leading scholars on.”

Lynch said he adjusted his fellowship to continue teaching one graduate course each year while he’s still doing the research. He will return to full-time teaching in spring 2018.

Dickson said although Lynch will not be available to do the same amount of teaching at GW, he believes that engaging in outside research and projects is directly in line with the priorities of the political science department and the Elliott School of International Affairs.

“This particular topic that Marc is working on, violence in the new Arab republic, is nothing more than timely in looking at violence in the Middle East and how new trends on new media, changing public opinion and other dynamics influence that,” Dickson said.

Nathan Brown, a professor of political science and international affairs and the director of the Institute for Middle East Studies, said that over the past 10 years, the University has increased its investments in Middle East studies.

“I think he’d be a logical person for this kind of award,” Brown said. “GW did the right thing by bringing Marc here, and we have students who come to study at the Elliott School and study political science because he’s here.”

Brown said Lynch’s research strengths lie in his region-specific analyses of the Arab world.

“What he has done, I would say, over the past few years, has been to explore the political and ideological upheavals of the Arab world — ones that are really ongoing and really looking at it at a regional level instead of simply looking at events in Cairo or Damascus,” Brown said. “He’s really able to make sense of what’s happening on a regional level.”

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