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Fostering interdisciplinary research and debate

Faculty clusters foster the sharing of research and ideas across scholarly domains at the School of International Service. Clusters build on faculty strengths and serve as catalysts for cross-field dialogue and debate.


This cluster focuses on the African continent. But while this narrowly refers to a geographical region, we collectively and more broadly interrogate the idea of Africa as it is sometimes (mis)construed in policy planning and the popular imagination. This includes discussions of colonialism as a critical juncture, or an event in a longer, more continuous historical experience of coercion or violence.

Lead Faculty: Naomi Moland

Members: Susanna Campbell, Dylan Craig, Lauren Carruth, Daniel Esser, Gina Lambright, Adrienne LeBas*, Carl LeVan, Jordanna Matlon, Kwaku Nuamah, Rachel Sullivan Robinson, Lauren Sinclair, Megan Stewart, Nina Yamanis

America & the World

The America and the World research cluster brings together scholars who focus on the history of America’s relations with the world, changing US foreign policy institutions and processes, US relations with particular countries and regions, and US national security policies.

Lead Faculty: Shoon Murray

Members: Amitav Acharya, James Bryan, Elizabeth Cohn, Max Paul Friedman, Matthew Hartwell, Ji-Young Lee, Jong Eun Lee, Garret Martin, David Mislan, Eric Novotny, Randy Persaud, Arturo Porzecanski, Manuel Reinert, Joshua Rovner, Sarah Snyder, Jordan Tama, Stephen Tankel, Elizabeth Thompson, Matthew Timmerman, Sharon Weiner, Guy Ziv

Complex Governance

The Complex Governance cluster brings together SIS faculty and Ph.D. students who share research interests in new forms of governance — novel in both actors and processes as well as spanning multiple levels (global, regional, national, subnational). The disciplinary range of the cluster is wide, spanning anthropology, sociology, history, and political science.

Lead Faculty: Megan Stewart

Members: Adam Auerbach, Susanna Campbell, Derrick Cogburn, Ken Conca, Arunjana Das, Todd Eisenstadt*, Jonathan Fox, Agustina Giraudy, Tamar Gutner, Randall Henning, Eric Hershberg*, Bryan Hickel, Eunbi Jung, Miles Kahler, Min Jung Kim, Adrienne LeBas*, Nanette Levinson, James Mittelman, Malini Ranganathan, Rachel Sullivan Robinson, Chris Rudolph, Michael Schroeder, Susan Shepler, Jeremy Shiffman*, Stephen Silvia, Sarah Snyder, Jordan Tama, Matthew Taylor, Yang Zhang

Ethnographies of Empire

The Ethnographies of Empire Research Cluster provides an intellectual space for SIS scholars whose work uses ethnography, critical theory, and historical research to interrogate structures of domination rooted in historical legacies and contemporary iterations of “empire,” broadly conceived. We use the term “empire” to refer to exploitative economic orders and manifestations of power in rule and sovereignty. We explore how empire is historically and geographically situated, and ways it organizes material and social difference.

Lead Faculty: T. Garrett Graddy-Lovelace and Jordanna Matlon

Members: Marcelo Bohrt, Robin Broad, Lauren Carruth, Christine Chin, Elizabeth Cohn, Erin Collins, Ken Conca, Maria de Jesus, Daniel Esser, Julia Fischer-Mackey, Anthony Fontes, Jonathan Fox, Scott Freeman, Carole Gallaher, Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Anne Kantel, Nanette Levinson, Veronica Limeberry, James Mittelman, Shadi Mokhtari, Mirjana Morosini, Randolph Persaud, Malini Ranganathan, Cathy Schneider, Susan Shepler, Rose Shinko, Stephen Silvia, Maina Chawla Singh, Sarah Snyder, Amanda Taylor, J. Ann Tickner, Kimberly Tower, Sharon Weiner, Wanda Wigfall-Williams, Yang Zhang

Global Economy & Development

Centered around a weekly seminar, the cluster has established itself as an intellectual fixture for the presentation and discussion of high-quality academic research on policy relevant issues relating to the global economy and economic development. Previous speakers have been drawn from local academic institutions and places like the World Bank, the IMF, the Federal Reserve and the Census Bureau.

Lead Faculty: Stefanie Onder

Members: Adam Auerbach, Daniel Bernhofen, Robert Blecker*, Claire Brunel, Susanna Campbell, Austin Davis, Boris Gershman*, Austin Hart, John Heath, Gregory Lane*, Gabriel Mathy*, Walter Park*, Jennifer Poole, Stephen Silvia, David Simpson

Spring 2019

  • January 28: Shushanik Hakobyan, International Monetary Fund
    Local-Labor-Market Effects of NAFTA: The Other Shoe Drops
  • February 11: Jennifer Poole, American University, SIS
    How are Firms Organized? A Descriptive Analysis of Establishment Networks
  • March 4: Megan Stewart, American University, SIS
    Statebuilding, Social Order and Violence: Evidence from US Reconstruction
  • March 18: Jonathan Timmis, OECD
    Capital Incentives and Digital Diffusion
  • March 25: Raphael Calel, Georgetown University
    Do Pollution Offsets Offset Pollution? Evidence from the Indian wind power sector
  • April 1: Adrienne LeBas, American University
    Tax Appeals and Voluntary Compliance: A Field Experiment in Lagos, Nigeria
  • April 22: Joshua Linn, Resources For the Future
    Pass-Through and Welfare Effects of Regulations that Affect Product Attributes
  • May 6: Emily Sellars, Yale University
    Does Emigration Inhibit Reform? Evidence from Mexico

Fall 2018

  • September 10: Paulo Bastos, World Bank
    Resource Rents, Coercion and Local Development: Evidence from post-Apartheid South Africa
  • October 15: Jessica Goldberg, University of Maryland
    Incentives for Patients and Referrals for TB Treatment: A Randomized Field Experiment in India
  • October 22: David McKenzie, World Bank
    Testing Classic Migration Theories in the Lab
  • November 5: Gabriel Mathy, American University
    Bad Luck or Bad Workers? A View of the Long-term Unemployed in the Great Depression through Matched Census Records
  • November 26: Sandip Sukhtankar, University of Virginia
    Authentication and Targeted Transfers
  • December 10: Susanna Campbell, American University, SIS
    Buying Influence: A survey experiment on the logic of aid allocation in conflict-affected countries

Spring 2018

  • January 29: Justin Pierce, Federal Reserve Board
    Trade Liberalization and Mortality: Evidence from U.S. Counties
  • February 5: Mariano Bosch, IADB
    The Effect of Welfare Payments on Work in a Middle-Income Country
  • February 12: Nathan Lane, MIT
    The Historical State, Local Collective Action, and Economic Development in Vietnam
  • February 19: Ferdinando Monte, Georgetown University
    The Geography of Consumption
  • February 26: Mary Lovely, Syracuse University
    Techno-industrial FDI Policies and China’s Export Surge
  • March 26: Erhan Artuc, World Bank
    Automation, Technology, and Geography: The Impact on Trade
  • April 2: Nina Yamanis, American University, SIS
    Using Social Network Analysis to Evaluate Health Behavior Change During a Randomized Controlled Trial in Tanzania

Fall 2017

  • September 25: Jessica Leight, American University
    Trade Liberalization and Local Labor Market Adjustment in South Africa
  • October 2: Special Session on The Reformation, Institutional Change and State Capacity
    • Noel Johnson, George Mason University
      The idea of religious freedom, state capacity and the reformation
    • Ralf Meisenzahl, Federal Reserve
      Beyond religious renewal: reformation law, public goods provision and economic growth
    • Sigrun Kahl, Princeton University
      The politics of salvation: the reformation and modern welfare reform
  • October 23: Kerem Kosar, University of Virginia
    Trade, merchants and lost cities of the Bronze age
  • October 30: Austin Hart, American University, SIS
    Getting the signal? Irrelevant information and the challenge of democratic accountability
  • November 6: Rodney Ludema, Georgetown University
    The Sword and the Shield: The Economics of Targeted Sanctions
  • November 13: Tim Schmidt-Eisenlohr, Federal Reserve
    Learning and the value of trade relationships
  • November 20: Florence Jaumotte, International Monetary Fund
    Impact of Migration on Income Levels in Advanced Economies
  • November 27: Joana Silva, World Bank
    The Impact of International Trade on the Composition of Employment in Brazilian Manufacturing Firms
  • December 4: Fariha Kamal, U.S. Census Bureau
    Recall and Response: Transaction-Level Impact of Supply-Chain Disruptions

Spring 2017

  • February 20: Markus Eberhardt, University of Nottingham
    Sources of Market Disintegration in 18th century China
  • March 6: Boris Gershman, American University
    Subnational Diversity in Sub-Saharan Africa: Insights from a New Dataset
  • March 20: Andrew McCallum, Federal Reserve Board of Governors
    Goods-market Frictions and International Trade
  • April 3: Christy Zhou, Resources for the Future
    How Much Do New Vehicle Consumers Value Fuel Economy and Performance? New Estimates and Implications for the Energy Efficiency Gap
  • April 17: Remi Jedwab, George Washington University
    Economic Shocks, Inter-Ethnic Complementarities and the Persecution of Minorities: Evidence from the Black Death
  • May 1: Heiwai Tang, Johns Hopkins University, SAIS
    Do Multinationals Transfer Culture? Evidence on Female Employment in China

Historical International Studies

The Historical International Studies (HIS) research cluster was founded in order to build an intellectual community among SIS scholars who use historical methods to interrogate economic, political, social structures and changes on the cross-national, transnational, and international levels. As SIS scholars have increasingly come to apply a historical lens to their field, the time was ripe to share our insights in an interdisciplinary forum.

Lead Faculty: Elizabeth Thompson and Yang Zhang

Members: Sarah Snyder, Erin Collins, Keith Darden, Carolyn A. Gallaher, Patrick Thaddeus Jackcson, Ji-Young Lee, Garret Martin, Randolph Persuad, Mirjana Morosini, Malini Ranganathan, James Mittleman, Daniel Bernhofen, Robert Kelley, Stephen Silvia, J. Ann Tickner, Daniel E. Esser, Jordanna Malton, Max Friedman, Boaz Atzili, Jordan Tama, Marcelo Bohrt, Robert Adcock, Anthony Wanis-St.John, Amitav Acharya, Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, Pedram Partovi, Elke Stockreiter, Lisa Leff, Philip J. Brenner, Akbar Ahmed, Joseph Torigian, Adrienne LeBas, David Vine, Ernesto Castenda, Miles Kahler, Cathy Schneider

Political Violence & Security

The Political Violence and Security cluster aims at bringing together faculty and PhD students with an intellectual and research focus on understanding the causes and consequences of violent political behavior of states, non-state actors, and individuals, across, between and within formal political boundaries. Our research seeks to understand political violence, security, and insecurity across a range of disciplines, approaches, regions, and levels of analysis.

Lead Faculty: Joseph Torigian

Members: Boaz Atzili, Laura Bosco, Chuck Call, Susanna Campbell, Audrey Kurth Cronin, Keith Darden, Lucas Dolan, Brandon Donelson-Smith, Eleni Ekmeksioglou, Tyler Evans, Yumna Fatima, Anthony Fontes, Jaclyn Fox, Carole Gallaher, Andrew Hagopian, Claudia Hofmann, Ben Jensen, Min Jung Kim, John King, Ji-Young Lee, Balazs Martonffy, Dave Ohls, Randy Persaud, Joshua Rovner, Cathy Schneider, Dan Schneider, Megan Stewart, Jordan Tama, Stephen Tankel, Sharon Weiner, Joe Young

* denotes non-SIS AU faculty