Top ‘News from Watson’ stories of 2023

2023 was an exciting year at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs with the Institute welcoming its largest-ever cohort of military fellows, celebrating 10 years of the China Initiative and welcoming new leaders. This year’s top 10 stories from the Watson Institute appear below.

Here are the top 10 "News from Watson" stories of 2023: 

10. Fall 2023 study groups bring an impressive array of practitioners to Watson

The fall of 2023 brought renowned human rights lawyer Malika Saada Saar and former U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin to the Watson Institute as senior fellows led student study groups, along with an array of practitioners who focused on issues relevant to first-generation and low-income college students.


9. Watson welcomes largest-ever cohort of military fellows

The Watson Institute welcomed a new cohort to its Military Fellows Program for the 2023-2024 academic year. The six new fellows will spend the next year immersed in Watson's scholarly community, engaging with students and faculty, taking classes, giving special lectures, attending seminars and conducting research.


8. Watson's China Initiative begins its second decade with an ambitious agenda

Entering its second decade, the Watson Institute's China Initiative seeks to understand China's rapid transformation from a variety of perspectives.


7. Advising and mentoring award presented to Patrick Heller

Lyn Crost Professor of Social Sciences, Professor of International and Public Affairs and Sociology Patrick Heller received the Graduate School’s Faculty Award for Advising and Mentoring at the University Awards Ceremony on May 1, 2023.


6. UTRA grants create valuable research opportunities at Watson

Undergraduate Research and Teaching Awards (UTRAs) support Brown students collaborating with Brown faculty on research projects and are integral to research being conducted at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.


5. Watson undergraduate awards, grants and prizes

The Watson Institute announced its undergraduate awards. The awards recognize academic excellence and provide funding for student research.


4. Researchers study the role of civil society organizations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic across the Global South

In a new paper, a team of researchers led by members of the Watson Institute's Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies found that civil society organizations in the Global South played a critical role in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


3. China Initiative postdoctoral fellow Shanni Zhao examines love and marriage in contemporary China

China Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow Shanni Zhao is researching how rapid economic, political and societal changes have impacted dating practices and marriage in contemporary China.


2. Watson faculty participate in Brown’s inaugural Warrior-Scholar Project Humanities Academic Boot Camp

Brown University hosted its inaugural Warrior-Scholar Project Humanities Academic Boot Camp at Watson from June 17-24 with the aid of three Watson-affiliated faculty. The rigorous week-long program is designed to ease the transition between military and academic life for U.S. veterans and active service members.


There was great interest in new members of the Watson community now serving in leadership roles. Our top story of the year was two stories — a profile of Watson’s new Master of Public Affairs (MPA) director David Blanding and another on Anya Bassett, the new faculty director of the undergraduate International and Public Affairs (IAPA) concentration. We are excited to have David and Anya join us at Watson and gratified to see so much interest in them and the roles they have assumed in our programs.

1. (Tie) From Harvard to Brown: Anya Bassett joins Watson as faculty director of the IAPA concentration

Anya Bassett joined the faculty of the Watson Institute this fall as faculty director of the IAPA concentration and director of undergraduate teaching and learning.

1. (Tie) David Blanding steps into new role as director of Watson's Master of Public Affairs program

David Blanding, who earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Brown University, returned to the University a year ago as an associate professor of the practice of international and public affairs. This year, he steps into a new role as director of Watson's MPA program.