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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Katherine BorlandMershon affiliate Katherine Borland, associate professor of comparative studies and director of the Center for Folklore Studies, has been awarded the Fulbright Bicentennial Chair in American Studies at the University of Helsinki, Finland for 2018-19.

As part of the American Studies program of the Department of World Cultures, Borland will teach folklore and performance studies at the University of Helsinki in Finland and will explore Finnish humanities research models that connect contemporary research with existing archival collections from August 2018 though May 2019.

Borland will visit the folklore programs and ethnological archives at the University of Turko, Åbo Akademi, University of Jyväskylä, University of Eastern Finland and the Folklore Archive of the Finnish Literature Society in Helsinki to interview archivists and researchers about how their work interfaces with community-based archival or research agendas.

“My aim is to identify the challenges and opportunities Finnish archivists face in articulating their value to diverse publics as well as to uncover collaborative models that I might apply to my own work at The Ohio State University Center for Folklore Studies archive,” Borland said.

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Each year, the Mershon Center for International Security Studies holds a competition for Ohio State faculty and students to apply for research grants and scholarship funds.

Research Grants

Applications for Faculty Research and Seed Grants and Graduate Student Research Grants must be for projects related to the study of national security in a global context. We are also interested in projects that emphasize the role of peace-building and development; strengthen the global gateways in China, India and Brazil; relate to campus area studies centers and institutes; or address the university's Discovery Themes of health and wellness, energy and the environment, food production and security, and the humanities and arts.

In recent years the center has funded several dozen faculty and graduate student research projects with grants for travel, seminars, conferences, interviews, experiments, surveys, library costs, and more. To learn more about the types of projects funded, please see faculty project summaries on the Mershon Center website under Research and graduate project summaries in past Annual Reports.

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Christopher Gelpi

Christopher F. Gelpi, professor in the Department of Political Science, has been named director of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University effective Jan. 1, 2018, to June 30, 2022.

The mission of the Mershon Center is to advance the understanding of national security in a global context. The center was founded in 1967 as the fulfillment of a bequest by Ohio State alumnus Col. Ralph D. Mershon for the civilian study of national security.

The Mershon Center encourages interdisciplinary faculty and student research and organizes speaking events, conferences and symposia in three primary areas:

  • The use of force and diplomacy
  • The ideas, identities and decisional processes that affect security
  • The institutions that manage violent conflict.

“I am so pleased and honored to be able to serve as the next director of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies,” said Gelpi, whose primary research interests include the sources of international military conflict, strategies for conflict resolution and American public opinion on foreign policy issues.

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Bear Braumoeller

Research could help tackle hunger-related violence

While it may sound hard to believe for many Americans, in some parts of the world, violence breaks out simply because people don’t have access to food.

The issue is often worse in places such as Africa that experience extreme weather. Drought, for instance, can be devastating for farmers and for the local economy, often leading to outbreaks of violence.

While research has shown a link between climate-induced food shortages and violence, findings out of Ohio State suggest there’s more to the story.

The research, led by political science Mershon affiliate Bear Braumoeller, associate professor of political science, reveals another factor that plays a huge part in this complex equation — the strength of the country’s government.

“A capable government is even more important to keeping the peace than good weather,” said Braumoeller.

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