Political Scientist Michael Desch Awarded Carnegie Planning Grant

Author: Joanna Basile

Michael Desch AL web

Professor Michael Desch, chair of Notre Dame’s Department of Political Science, has been awarded a second grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to expand his research on how American scholars can contribute to the formation of U.S. national security policy.

“Not too long ago, it was quite common for academic social scientists to do research that directly influenced national security policymakers,” Desch says. “Indeed, there was a revolving door between the Ivory Tower and the Beltway through which many professors passed regularly to the benefit of both realms.”

But a gap has since opened up between professors and policymakers, he says.

“In this project, I seek to answer three questions,” Desch explains. “First, why is there a gap between the academic and policy worlds? Second, what are its consequences? Finally, what, if anything, should be done to close this gap?”

Scholarship and Policy

The new grant will allow Desch to expand the work he began with the initial Carnegie planning grant he received in 2011. Carnegie Corporation is a philanthropic foundation created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to do “real and permanent good in this world.” The organization makes grants to promote international peace and to advance education and knowledge.

Desch’s research will focus on interactions between U.S. scholars and policymakers dating back to the Cold War, when, he says, cooperation between the two was at its peak.

“I am tracing the changing relationship between government and the universities, highlighting its causes and consequences, and suggesting means for achieving a better balance in social science research by scholarly rigor and real-world relevance with particular attention to the field of national security studies.”

He is also connecting this research with his teaching. “For example,” Desch says, “last fall in my U.S. Foreign Policy class, the final paper was a foreign policy platform for one of the presidential candidates in the 2012 election.”

Politics and Religion

Desch specializes in American foreign policy, American national security decision making, and international relations. In addition to his Carnegie-funded research, he co-directs the international relations working group for Notre Dame’s Religion Across the Disciplines initiative with Daniel Philpott, associate professor of political science and peace studies and a faculty member of the University’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

Funded by a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the project calls on leading scholars from around the world to join with faculty and graduate students at Notre Dame to investigate the influence of religion in history, international relations, literature, music, and sociology, as well as the influence those fields have on religion itself.

“This group,” Desch says, “will produce a white paper laying out a future agenda for scholarship on the resurgence of religion—and how it will affect international relations in the future.”

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