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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Marcus Kurtz

Mershon affiliate Marcus Kurtz has been named director of the Undergraduate International Studies Program, effective January 1, 2019.

Kurtz is professor of political science with research and teaching interests in comparative politics, democratization, political economy and development, with a focus on Latin America.

Kurtz is the author of two books: Free Market Democracy and the Chilean and Mexican Countryside (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and Latin American State Building in Comparative Perspective: Social Foundations of Institutional Order (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

He has also published several peer-reviewed journal articles, including “Oil and Democracy: Endogenous Natural Resources and the Political ‘Resource Curse,'” “Capturing State Strength: Experimental and Econometric Approaches” and “Paths of Policy Diffusion: When and How Diffusion Shapes Financial Globalization in Latin America.”

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Study: Salty soil drives changes in agriculture, migration

Chen Joyce

Rising sea levels driven by climate change make for salty soil, and that is likely to force about 200,000 coastal farmers in Bangladesh inland as glaciers melt into the world’s oceans, according to estimates from a new study.

Frequent flooding with salt water is already pushing farmers in Bangladesh to shift from growing rice to raising shrimp and other seafood, but not all coastal residents will be able to stay put and maintain their agricultural livelihoods, said study co-lead author Joyce Chen, an affiliate of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University.

“Unfortunately, this is likely to be most challenging for those farming families who have the fewest resources to begin with,” said Chen, an associate professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics.

The study appears in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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Skyler Cranmer Bear Braumoeller

Research by four Mershon Center affiliates is featured in the Autumn 2018 issue of Ascent, published by the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio State.

Bear Braumoeller, associate professor of political science, and Skyler Cranmer, Carter Phillips and Sue Henry Associate Professor of Political Science, were interviewed for "The Science of Peace," taking aim at conventional wisdom on war and peace.

For Braumoeller, recent scholarly works and popular books advancing the decline of war and violence are troubling. “That theory and the evidence used to support it left me with a nagging little itch that something might not be quite right,” he said.

Similarly, Cranmer is skeptical of people who write off the United Nations as a paper tiger. “I don’t like assumptions,” he said. “I wanted to determine whether the U.N. really fulfills its mission of suppressing conflict.”

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Teri Murphy

The Mershon Center for International Security Studies has a new peace studies coordinator on staff by way of Northern Ireland.

Teri Murphy was most recently deputy executive director at Corrymeela Peace Center, Northern Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization. There she oversaw an analytic review of peacebuilding programming and facilitated development of a consensus-driven strategic plan; supervised 35 full-time staff and 25 volunteers; and managed a £1.5 million budget.

The experience positions her well for the peace studies coordinator role, which is split between the Mershon Center and the International Studies Program. For Mershon, Murphy will work with Christopher Gelpi, Chair in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution, to develop, plan, execute and supervise peace-related programming and educational activities, including conferences and speaker panels; cultivate, expand and sustain collaborative partnerships with community organizations; and supervise peace-related student groups and activities.

Her activities will develop a bridge between the academic research fostered at the Mershon Center and the central Ohio community, both inside and outside Ohio State, interested in the promotion of peace at the local, national, and international levels.

Additionally, Murphy will teach three undergraduate courses each year for the International Studies Program’s Peace Studies minor. Along with the director of the International Studies Progam, she will shape the program in peace studies, developing courses that could eventually transform the minor into a major at Ohio State.

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