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

Leadership and Networks — Preparing for Future Opportunities

Led by various speakers
This study group will lead skill building, leadership-focused discussions where students will be joined by impressive leaders, with personal experience as first generation or low income college students.

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.

Exploring Hyper-Polarization in Modern American Politics: How Did it Happen and Where Do We Go From Here?

Led by: Jim Langevin
This study group will explore the evolving media environment, including the rise of social media. Students will study how foreign adversaries take advantage of these elements to further divide and undermine our national security.

Raag Sense

Led by: Ali Sethi
What is a raga? In this study group we learn to recognise, differentiate and perform the “melodic frameworks” of precolonial India. Students engage with various schemes of Indian musicology. This study group is formatted like a traditional ‘baithak’ or salon.

Senior Fellow News

The fall of 2023 will bring renowned human rights lawyer Malika Saada Saar ’92 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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These not-for-credit study groups provide an opportunity for students to delve deeply into topics and apply theory and research to real world challenges. Enrollment in each group is limited to 25 students. 
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After serving as a U.S. Representative for Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District for 11 terms, James Langevin retired from the House in 2023. Now living full-time in Rhode Island, Langevin has been named a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. 
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Study Group Leaders