Political Science Graduate Student Awarded USIP Peace Scholar Dissertation Fellowship

The U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) recently announced its 2023-24 cohort of Peace Scholar Fellows and a Kent State University graduate student is one of the 21 award recipients.

Laura Mendez Carvajal

Laura Mendez Carvajal, a Ph.D. candidate and adjunct professor (with an emphasis in Transnational Politics and Conflict Management) in Political Science at Kent State was awarded the fellowship for her research work titled “‘Self-help’ discourse in foreign aid and inequality: peasants' agency in rural Colombia.”

She hopes her work can amplify the voices of the community members she works with in rural Colombia and inform development foreign policies to avoid reproducing inequality in the Global South.

“Laura is the first Kent State student to ever receive this fellowship,” Julie Mazzei, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science and director of the School of Multidisciplinary Social Sciences and Humanities, said. “It is a highly competitive award, and the recognition speaks to the sophistication and intellectual contributions of Laura’s work.”

Her research examines the unintended and negative consequences of development assistance for local development in disenfranchised communities in Colombia. Her broad research interests are critical development studies, international political economy, intersectionality, structural violence, and post-colonial studies. She teaches courses at the undergraduate level in Political Economy, Latin American Politics, and Comparative Politics.

She has a B.Sc. in Economics from Universidad de La Salle, Colombia, and an M.P.A. from New Mexico State University. Laura studies the political economy of development with a focus on Latin America. She’s been the recipient of the Laura Bassi Scholarship, P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship, and research grants from the Northeast Ohio Scholars Strategy Network and Kent State University Graduate Senate. In addition to conducting research in Colombia and volunteer activities in Indonesia and Palestine, she taught a course at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná in Brazil through the American Academy and represented Kent State at the Kosovo International Summer Academy. She will be serving as Visiting Assistant Professor in International Relations at Valparaiso University beginning in Fall 2023.

More about the USIP Awards
This year 113 applicants from 66 U.S. universities applied for this prestigious award. The 21 award recipients demonstrated the greatest potential to advance the peacebuilding field and the strongest likelihood to inform policy and practice.

Since 1988, USIP has awarded 408 non-residential fellowships to doctoral candidates enrolled in U.S. universities, many of whom have gone on to distinguished careers in research, teaching, and policymaking. Since 2017, USIP has partnered with the Minerva Research Initiative to build upon the successes of the Peace Scholar program.

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Media Contact:
Jim Maxwell, 330-672-8028, jmaxwel2@kent.edu

POSTED: Friday, July 28, 2023 12:48 PM
Updated: Friday, July 28, 2023 01:02 PM
Jim Maxwell