AC4 Graduate Fellowship Alumni

As of May 2015, the AC4 Graduate Fellowship program has a total of 63 alumni in addition to the numerous Earth Institute student recipients of travel grants, internships and research assistantships. Learn more about AC4 fellows in our featured interviews:

Jonathan Blake, 2011

Jonathan Blake

Where are you now?

I finished my PhD in the spring, defending in April and graduating in May 2015. I’m now a post-doc at SIPA, and also I am a research fellow at the Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership based in New York. At the Chumir Foundation, I direct a research project, for which a big conference, the Congress of Vienna 2015 just happened last week in Vienna. It brought together policy makers and thought leaders to discuss ideas new on global governance and managing relations among the major world powers, nuclear risk reduction, the current forced migration crisis and also ways to use policy and technological innovation in addressing poverty and global inequality.

How has the AC4 Fellowship Program shaped your graduate school experience or career goals?

AC4 funded the first trip I took to Belfast, where I conducted most of my research. I have now been several times over the course of what is now four years, and for longer stays, but that first trip is what allowed it all to happen. With six weeks, I was able to build contacts, start a network and really begin the actual research process. The AC4 sponsored field research also helped me to get larger grants later on. I could show evidence from the fieldwork from AC4 on my approach and demonstrate the feasibility of my research plan. I’m currently finishing a book, tentatively called Contentious Rituals: Parading Faith and Nation in Northern Ireland, that started with the research that AC4 helped me do years ago.

Any advice for current and/or prospective candidates to AC4 Fellowship?

AC4 or other similar, smaller grants for summer work may end up turning into a lot of money later on! It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Hakim Williams, 2009

Pic in office_2014Where are you now?

I’m currently an Assistant professor of Africana Studies and Education at Gettysburg College, where I’m also a member of the Globalization Studies and public policy programs. For the academic year 2015-2016, I’m an AC4 Visiting Scholar.

How did the AC4 fellowship program shape your graduate school experience at Columbia or your career?

I was in the inaugural class of AC4 fellows. I received it to assist with data collection for my doctoral dissertation on school violence in Trinidad. Since then, my study has turned into a longitudinal vertical case study and I am returning to Trinidad in December 2015 for seven months of more data collection. I’ll be employing a critical participatory action research project with youth. I’ll be conducting restorative justice workshops, peer mediation workshops and community activism training with parents. This is my attempt to take a systems approach to research and activism. The community I had/have at AC4 continue to inspire me to conceptualize my work in broader terms.

Any advice for current and/or prospective students in the AC4 fellowship program?

Every bit of funding helps. Sometimes, it’s easier to find smaller amounts of monies and that may lead to larger grants. You can also supplement your AC4 grants with kickstarter fundraisers (or the like). More and more we are seeing investments in peace research. These are exciting times indeed!


Check back soon for more to come!

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