Ron Hassner, Professor

Closed (1) The Rise and Fall of the State Department: Foreign Policy Expertise and Crisis Response

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

How does the State Department – the lead agency of U.S. foreign policy – shape international crises? I argue that variance in two factors, State’s level of expertise and its influence with the White House, will contribute to important differences in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. This project explores whether a strong and influential Department of State can use its expertise to mitigate information asymmetries and misperceptions that have long been theorized to be at the root of costly conflict. However, a strong and influential State Department also limits the president’s ability to exercise control over the bureaucracy. A president must thus balance between control and competence in staffing the national security process. This project explores the consequences of this trade-off.

The student will support qualitative and quantitative data gathering efforts for 72 crises and six case studies. The data set focuses on U.S.-involved crises from 1947 to 2008. We will discuss and implement strong research design, the importance of careful conceptualization and measurement in data collection, and techniques for archival research. The student will learn about U.S. diplomatic and military history, as well as the U.S. foreign policy making process.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Dan Spokojny, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: An interest in social scientific research is required. A high level of English language fluency is required. Demonstrated competence with research and writing are desirable, as is familiarity with modern U.S. foreign policy history and the structure of the policymaking process. Experience with statistical software is also desirable.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs