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SIS Professor Receives Fellowship

By Annie Lyon, CAS/MA '03

Dr. Peter Howard (left) chats with some Washington Community of Scholars students in summer 2009.

Dr. Peter Howard (left) chats with some Washington Community of Scholars students in summer 2009.

School of International Service (SIS) professor Dr. Peter Howard has received a Science and Technology Policy Fellowship from the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and will be leaving AU on August 31 to begin the year-long position.

Howard has been placed in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs where he will be working on regional water issues. “There are several multilateral water groups from the Oslo process that the U.S. chairs, and there are several new initiatives that President Obama has launched focusing on water issues in the Middle East,” he notes.

The fellowship’s goals appeal to Howard. “In international relations, there’s a significant gap between theory and policy. I am interested in bridging this gap by being a scholar who becomes a practitioner, developing an understanding the policy process by being a part of it,” he explains. “Hopefully it’s possible to open new channels between theory and policymakers as well. That’s part of what the fellowship is for: one of AAAS’s goals as an organization is to bring more scientific expertise to the policy process.”

The position is a good match for the AU-graduated Howard, who received his PhD in international relations from SIS, with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and international security and, aside from teaching, is the coordinator of the summer Washington Community of Scholars program. Howard received his MA in political science from Columbia University, and his BA and BS from The Ohio State University.

Howard looks to learn about the policy process on two levels: “the way to succeed on the day to day implementation of policy projects and, as a scholar of both U.S. foreign policy and regional multilateral cooperative efforts, how theory might inform better policy and policy might generate better theory” he says.  He is one of over 120 other science-based fellows from all over the United States: there are biologists, physicists, engineers, like Howard, a few social scientists.
After the year at the Bureau of Near Easter Affairs ends, Howard may renew the fellowship for a second year. “About one-third [of the fellows] go back from whence they came, another third use it as a pivot to go elsewhere, and the final third there are hired by their offices as full time civil servants,” Howard explains.

As exciting as the experience will be, Howard will be sorry to leave the AU’s intellectual arena. “I will miss all of my colleagues … I will miss my students… I will miss not teaching on a regular basis.  I’ll miss the relaxed academic environment, where you can sit around and have substantive deep, issue-based discussions with people, where the emphasis is on ideas.”

The option to return to AU is a tantalizing one for Howard, mostly because “I [can’t] bear to be distant from the SIS Fantasy Baseball League.”