Monthly Archives: October 2020

Foundation supports graduate students at UW Jackson School of International Studies

Highlighting the impact of the Foundation’s international studies graduate student fellowships:
1. Jackson-Culp Fellowships

The Henry M. Jackson-Gordon Culp Fellowships provide support for two outstanding graduate students – one engaged in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies, and the other in China studies. The Fellowships are named in honor of the late Gordon Culp, former counsel to Senator Jackson and a long-time member of the Foundation’s Board of Governors.

2019-2020 Jackson-Culp Fellow in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies Anastasia Kharitonova-Gomez

Anastasia Kharitonova-Gomez’s research concentrates on the local East Slavic diaspora, utilizing her affinity for in-depth, in-person interviews. Her thesis examines the political views of Ukrainians in America and more broadly, her research will serve as a case study of transnational political identity. How diasporas negotiate homeland and host land identities, experiences, and interests in their political engagement is a particularly relevant topic in the increasingly diverse United States. She noted that Jackson-Culp Fellowship supports her research by granting her the time and flexibility to conduct quality interviews and supplementary research.

Anastasia shared this about her fellowship:

After completing my master’s degree and a nonprofit certificate I’ve been able to incorporate into my schedule, I plan to continue working with nonprofits that support migrants. At a later point in life, I am interested in pursuing a doctoral degree with the intent to teach political science with a focus on post-Soviet states and diaspora studies. My education and career goals would not be possible without the generous support of the Jackson-Culp Fellowship. The fellowship allows me to take full advantage of the Jackson School’s courses without financial strain, especially given pandemic conditions. By graduating from the university with a well-rounded, debt-free education, I will be empowered to pursue a truly meaningful career. Thank you again for the privilege of receiving the Jackson-Culp Fellowship.

2019-2020 Jackson-Culp Fellow in China Studies Junhe (June) Yang

Junhe Yang, also a PhD student in the sociology department, focuses her research in social demography, specifically with a regional interest in mainland China. Currently she is working on her master’s thesis that looks into the relationship between marriage and mortality in China during the economic reform period. She finds that contemporary Chinese society is marked by a rising divorce rate, male-dominated gender imbalances, and an aging population. Junhe’s research analyzes the possible health implications of marriage, which she believes will lend further support for evidence-based policy making.

According to Junhe:

With an ultimate goal of applying what I learn in sociology to the Chinese context, I benefit from the resources that I receive through Jackson School – advice from faculty advisors, courses, lectures and seminars that have special focuses on China. I would like to expand my current research into a doctoral thesis, possibly looking at how income, education, and occupation relate to mortality in China. Hopefully, my thesis project can add to the rarity of empirical research on social factors that contribute to mortality in the Chinese context. The Jackson/Culp fellowship in China Studies has freed up my time to allow for multiple fruitful, inspirational learning opportunities, especially under the difficult time brought by COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Doctoral Fellowship

For the past several years the Jackson Foundation has annually provided support to a student enrolled in the UW Jackson School’s Ph.D. Program.  The Jackson School utilizes these funds to recruit top-notch students who work in a priority area of the Foundation such as Foreign Policy, Environmental Studies, Human Rights, Russia, Eastern Europe, or the Middle East.

2019-2020 Henry M. Jackson Doctoral Fellow Lauren Hwayoung Lee

Last year’s Henry M. Jackson Doctoral Fellowship recipient was Lauren Hwayoung Lee, whose research examines domestic political influences on foreign policy choices, particularly in East Asia. Before joining the Jackson School at the University of Washington, Hwayoung served as a junior researcher at Korea Chair of Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and worked in diverse sectors: NHK Japan Broadcasting Company in New York City, Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington D.C., and Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS. She received a dual M.A. in International Studies with honors from Seoul National University and in Public Policy from the University of Tokyo. She also earned a B.A. in English and Japanese summa cum laude from Kyungil University in South Korea.

Regarding her fellowship, Hwayoung wrote:

With the Jackson Doctoral Fellowship, I can fully spend my time focusing on course work and advancing my research for journal submissions and academic conferences. My research has been published in the Japanese Journal of Political Science (JJPS) and my papers have been accepted by several conferences, including Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA), International Studies Association (ISA), and Western Social Science Association (WSSA0). I could not have had this academic success without the Jackson Foundation’s financial support. I firmly believe that the skills, knowledge, and networks that I have gained through the Jackson School’s doctoral program will endow me with a strong foundation for my lifelong academic journey.

When answers are easy and questions take courage: A curious trip to Washington, D.C.

Members of the Jackson Fellows Class of 2019 visited with over a dozen officials on the program’s annual trip to Washington, D.C. last year, including Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell. (Mónica is third from the right.)

We are excited to post a guest blog from 2019 Jackson Leadership Fellow Mónica Guzmán, whose Fellowship experience led to a book. Enjoy this great read! -Katy Terry, Executive Director

When I traveled to Washington D.C. with my cohort of Henry M. Jackson Foundation Fellows a year ago in June, I packed my get-down-to-business notebook. The nine of us had spent 10 months here in Seattle learning about what it takes to step up big to public service, and the looseleaf pages I’d stuffed into folders weren’t going to cut it for our behind-the-scenes conversations with leaders in our nation’s capital.

We were there for the real talk — and we got it. I filled page after unruled page with it. And when a senator or legislator said something I wasn’t going to get out of my head, I jotted down their exact words:

  • “You’re not supposed to say ‘I don’t know’ as an elected official.”
  • “I’ve never been comfortable just being here and being a rah-rah person.”
  • “If you’re on the Sunday talk shows, you become the person everyone is opposed to.”
  • “As long as it’s us vs. them, that furthers the problem.”
  • “Now let’s put the labels aside and talk about the work that needs to be done.”
  • “It drives some of my colleagues nuts, but I can really see all sides of an issue.”
  • “More people than before can’t handle disagreement. It’s an all out fight.”

We fellows are a diverse bunch, and everyone in my cohort came to D.C. with their own burning questions. Several wanted to level up on climate change policy. A few were gathering courage to run for office. What I asked about, over and over, is the thing that’s been fascinating and frustrating me for years — political division.

Everything from what we read to who we hang out with is shaped and skewed by the group rivalries defining more and more of American life. It’s tearing us apart, this distrust people have for anyone who sees things differently. And it’s made my work as a journalist — helping people understand each other so we can solve problems together — almost comically difficult.

Polarization is such a complex beast of a problem, I want to throw up my hands half the time, and I’m not even in politics.

The puzzle of polarization

Let’s soak in just how brutal all this has gotten in the last four years:

  • We’re stressed out. In 2017, a majority of us — 51 percent — said we were “extremely” or “somewhat” anxious about “the impact of politics on my daily life.” The next year, that figure jumped to 56 percent.
  • We reject the other side. In a 2019 Pew survey, 53 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats said the other party “has almost no good ideas” — a roughly 10-percentage point jump for both groups since 2016. Meanwhile, a study called “Lethal Mass Partisanship” found that just over 42 percent of folks in both parties view the other side as “downright evil.”
  • We don’t really see the other side. We see a caricature. A landmark 2019 study found that Americans have a completely warped view of what the other side actually believes. To give just two examples: Republicans think half of all Democrats believe “most police are bad people” when only 15 percent of Democrats actually believe that, and Democrats think only half of Republicans believe racism remains an issue when the actual figure is 79 percent.
  • And getting more news or education doesn’t help. Your views of the other side are three times more distorted if you get news “most of the time” rather than “only now and then.” And a Democrat with a high school diploma is smarter about the other side’s beliefs than a Democrat with a master’s degree.

So back to D.C. The reaction I couldn’t capture with scribbled quotes in my notebook — the one that every leader and legislator we talked to had when polarization came up — was a deep sigh. It’s not an empty gesture. A sigh resets your face to something more genuine, as Harvard professor Steve Jarding once put it. And they genuinely shared how confounding public service becomes when you have to follow a polarized script. The dance for the tweets and the cameras. The progress half the country thinks is doom. They got sh*t done despite the gridlock. “There’s plenty of bipartisanship, you just don’t hear about it,” one legislator told us. I knew why. It wouldn’t get any clicks.

In one session, I set down my pen and put my head in my hands. Here I am looking for answers from the most powerful people in politics, and they seem powerless to dismantle the toxic systems that make their work — and our civic lives — harder.

That felt familiar. In 15 years of journalism, I’ve been in countless chats about “the media” and all that’s wrong with us. Fear mongering, clickbaiting, catastrophizing, exploiting — we’re guilty as charged. Many of us work like hell to hack something better, but we’re still throwing grabby words in your face. When non-journalists in my life turn to me for answers, I give a deep sigh, too.

Then I start asking questions.

“I never thought of it that way”

Questions, I’ve realized, bust through divisions, assumptions, systems — all the walls we put between us. They’re open invitations to knowledge. Bridges to conversation when you have nothing in common but the experience of having lived a unique human life, which is always enough.

It’s not the politicians or pundits we need to open their minds and question their assumptions. It’s each and all of us.

The most important question to ask about each other these days is “What am I missing?” There’s only one wrong answer: “Nothing.” The most important things to share are not our opinions, but the stories of how we got to our opinions. The most undervalued answer to a complex question is “I don’t know,” because it keeps the question open and invites others into the solution. “I don’t know” is an answer both politicians and journalists feel they’re not supposed to give. If they’re going to lead us through these intensely challenging times, we need them to learn how.

Partway through my Jackson year, I gathered all my notes from the fellowship and labeled the front with a phrase I love: “I Never Thought of it That Way.” Senator Henry Jackson was known for crossing divides to build thoughtful, responsive policies. Those seven words, I’ve learned, signal that a new perspective has crossed the chasm from one brain to another. They’re the prize of a virtue that’s become scarce in our media, politics, and everywhere. A human superpower I’ve worked my whole career to master, spark, and inspire. Curiosity.

The “I Never Thought of it That Way” binder has joined three shelves’ worth of notes and research for a new project: a book. It’ll be a guide to building bridges in wildly divided times, it’s due to publish with BenBella Books in 2022, and I am nowhere near done asking questions.

I Never Thought of it That Way

Want to get updates or get involved in Mónica’s curiosity project? Go to http://bit.ly/reclaimingcuriosity to sign up, or reach out to her at moni@moniguzman.com.