Senior Fellows

The Watson Institute Senior Fellows program is designed to bring leading policymakers and public intellectuals from around the world to Brown University to offer fresh thinking on contemporary global issues.

Senior fellows receive a one-year appointment at Brown University through the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Fellows are encouraged to lead student study groups each semester and throughout the year to attend student/faculty discussions, visit courses, host public events, and mentor undergraduate and graduate students through office hours. Recent fellows include Menaka Guruswamy, senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India, former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, former Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, writer ZZ Packer and Jim Yong Kim, former president of the World Bank.

Study Groups

Senior Fellow study groups provide an opportunity for students to delve deeply into policy and international affairs topics and apply theory and research to real-world challenges.

They are open to undergraduates and graduate students from all concentrations. The study groups are designed to be accessible to students across different fields and to avoid infringing on students’ coursework. Fellows often invite guest speakers to address specific topics. Background reading is usually assigned for each session but is kept to a minimum. The group size is kept small to promote student participation and conversation, and participating students are expected to attend all five meetings.

Current Study Groups

Documentary Filmmaking: A Filmmaker's Approach to Crafting Stories from Real Life

Led by: Lizzie Gottlieb
This study group will take a filmmaker's approach to look at how we craft stories from real life. Students will explore a wide range of documentaries, both past and present, to understand what makes them effective and why.

Surveying the Cyber Threat Landscape and Protecting the United States Against Cyberattacks of Significant Consequence

Led by: Jim Langevin
In this study group students will learn about the risks facing the country in cyberspace, how they have developed, and why some have continued to persist for decades. Students will examine cybersecurity as a whole-of-nation effort, and consider where to vest responsibility in mitigating these risks.

The International Effort to Contain Global Climate Chang

Led by: Todd Stern
Students will explore the seven-year strategic process leading to the Paris Agreement, examining the pivotal U.S.-China relationship. The study group will address the significance of developments in climate change since the Paris Agreement and future action steps.

Human Rights and Technology

Led by: Malika Saada Saar
This study group will explore the emerging and complex intersection between human rights and advancements in technology. Students will reckon with, and critically analyze, the racial justice, gender equity and human rights implications of technology.

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.
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A new Watson Institute initiative will provide Brown Masters of Public Affairs students and International and Public Affairs concentrators with additional opportunities to make valuable connections and receive career advice from distinguished Watson senior fellows.
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The fall of 2023 will bring renowned human rights lawyer Malika Saada Saar and former U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin to the Watson Institute as senior fellows who will lead student study groups, along with an array of practitioners who will focus on issues relevant to first-generation and low-income college students.
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Study Group Leaders