SFS Welcomes New Scholars to Georgetown Community

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October 26, 2016
by Catherine Pilishvili

The Walsh School of Foreign Service is pleased to welcome three new tenure-track faculty members to Georgetown in the 2016-2017 academic year. The new faculty were selected, not only for their impressive qualifications and drive, but also for their unique experiences and interests.

Diana Kim, Assistant Professor in the Asian Studies Program, received both her Master’s and PhD in political science from the University of Chicago. Her expertise is in transnational politics and the history of markets across Southeast and East Asia. Kim focuses on the regulation of vice, illicit economies, and legacies of Empire and colonialism, which she addresses in her book Empires of Vice, on opium prohibition.

Kim was drawn to Georgetown because of the active academic community, which is thoughtful about its engagement with practitioners and policy makers.

“I believe that curiosity and wonder play a powerful role in inspiring us to approach new ideas and commit to a versatile process of learning,” said Kim. “So, I aim to develop a ‘puzzle’ based approach to learning that invites students to question seemingly obvious aspects about contemporary politics and society, and provide the tools to situate those questions in comparative and historical perspectives.”

Rajesh Veeraraghavan is an Assistant Professor of Science Technology and International Affairs (STIA). Before coming to Georgetown, Veeraraghavan was a postdoctoral fellow at the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University and a Fellow at the Berkman Center at Harvard University.  He got his Ph.D from University of California at Berkeley.  Prior to that, he worked as an associate researcher at the Technology for Emerging Markets group at Microsoft Research, India and as a software developer at Microsoft for several years in the US. His interests centers around the role of information and technological solutions to governance problems, and more broadly working on political economy of development with an information and technology focus.

Veeraraghavan seeks to develop not only trained professionals, but informed and engaged citizens who are well prepared to shape technologies for social change through his teaching.

“I am excited at the unique opportunity that is available here to teach social theory to technically minded students, and to introduce computing concepts to social scientists and humanities students,” said Veeraraghavan.

“After having pursued an advanced degree after a decade of work, I know that learning does not stop, and I will indeed continue to learn, including from students. I would like to have a life of teaching and research that will help me grow as a person and also others around me.”

Charlotte Cavaillé was a Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Toulouse, and received her Master’s in Political Science from Sciences-Po Paris. She later moved to Massachusetts, and received her PhD in Government and Social Policy from Harvard University. Her primary interests include the impact of changing individual and contextual economic conditions, policy design and elite-level framing on individual-level support for social policies, income redistribution and government intervention.

“I was frustrated with the ways in which public opinion was conceptualized in existing work,” Cavaillé said, in relation to how she chose her academic focus. “Theoretical and quantitative work often reduces policy attitudes to ‘more-vs-less support for income redistribution,’ the poor want more, the rich want less. Qualitative work has emphasized how preferences are multifaceted and complex but it doesn’t always make this complexity tractable theoretically.”

When asked about her approach to teaching, Cavaillé shared her thoughts on how political science, and comparative politics more specifically, has a lot to offer to students.

“Political science training, and social sciences in general, are about turning data into tractable questions,” she said. “Our lives are filled with fascinating social science puzzles, but you need to know where – and how – to look for them.  Once students get enthusiastic about the puzzles that surround them, teaching becomes very easy. This enthusiasm is usually one of the major rewards you get as an educator.”

Cavaillé will be joining the SFS in January 2017.

The unique background and concentrations of each of these new faculty members will add to the already interdisciplinary nature of the SFS, and the school’s commitment to the pursuit of knowledge. They join a faculty community where collaboration across academic fields is encouraged, according to SFS Faculty Chair Professor Irfan Nooruddin.

“[SFS faculty] are first and foremost world-class scholars in their chosen fields,” said Nooruddin. “They are open to interdisciplinary approaches and indeed thrive in an environment in which political scientists and economists discuss global issues with historians and anthropologists, or biologists and critical theorists. And, in the best Jesuit tradition, they are committed to a pursuit of knowledge that serves the public interest.”