Category: Faculty, Featured News, News, On Campus

Title: SFS Welcomes New Faculty During First In-Person Semester Since the Beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Author: Paul James
Date Published: September 28, 2021

When members of the Georgetown community returned to the Hilltop for in-person learning this fall, five SFS faculty members were among the new faces on campus.

Professors Katty Alhayek, Killian Clarke, Ashley Lenihan, Cecilia Van Hollen and Jodi Vittori joined the Walsh School of Foreign Service core faculty this semester, bringing with them decades of professional expertise and scholarly achievement.

The new faculty members — some of whom are making a return to the Hilltop as alumni and former adjunct professors — are excited to mentor and engage with SFS students and to continue their valuable contributions to international affairs in a range of fields, including security, anthropology, media, economic development and political transformation.

“As SFS returns to in-person learning after the challenges of the virtual environment, we are excited to welcome these new faculty members to our community,” says SFS Dean Joel Hellman. “Their expertise, drawn from decades of distinguished service and scholarship in international affairs, will undoubtedly enhance our school’s teaching and research and I know our students will benefit greatly from their scholarship and guidance.”

Katty Alhayek

Assistant Teaching Professor (Center for Contemporary Arab Studies)

Dr. Katty Alhayek joins SFS and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies as an assistant teaching professor. Alhayek’s research centers around themes of marginality, media, audiences, gender, intersectionality and displacement in a transnational context.

A scholar-activist from Syria, Alhayek has worked with many international organizations, including the U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Her research, inspired in part by her own experiences, considers the many layers of life in marginalized communities. 

“My research and teaching focus on the experiences of marginalized populations, especially those moving across borders, so an ongoing challenge is to address ethical issues like harm and to encourage a culture of reflexivity about the ways in which power shapes the research process about these communities,” she says.

Since completing her doctoral degree in communication and advanced feminist studies, Alhayek is looking forward to furthering her scholarship and mentorship at SFS. Her graduate seminar — Media, Conflict and Displacement — takes students through the interactions between media and communication and political violence and terror.

“I was drawn to SFS’s intellectual, diverse communities of students and colleagues,” she says. “I appreciate the school’s global focus, balance between theory and practice and commitment to diversity, ethics, interdisciplinarity and fostering its students’ curiosity.”

Killian Clarke

Assistant Professor (Affiliated with the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies)

Dr. Killian Clarke joins the SFS faculty as an assistant professor. His work focuses on the origins and consequences of grassroots mobilization and protests, and their contribution to transformative political events like revolutions, regime change and democratization.

With education and research interests in a variety of fields, Clarke says, “For me, it was really important to be in an intellectual environment that embraces interdisciplinarity, different forms of knowledge and multiple ways of understanding the world. I think this really sums up SFS.” He hopes to engage with students and colleagues who bring varied and intersecting perspectives to their work.

Clarke’s broader research examines instances of protest and regime change in the Middle East and beyond, including the dynamics of mobilization in the Arab Spring revolutions and recent uprisings, practices of resistance among Syrian refugee communities and the sources of post-revolutionary order and regime-building. He is currently writing a book on counterrevolution, which draws on Egypt’s experience after the 2011 uprising.

Looking ahead to his graduate-level courses on Comparative Politics of the Middle East, offered this fall, and Revolutions in the Middle East, offered in the spring, Clarke says, “The obvious challenge this year is navigating the public health situation, but I’ve been really struck by the grace and flexibility of both faculty and students, who all seem willing to take whatever comes in stride and get through it.”

Ashley Thomas Lenihan

Professor of the Practice of International Affairs and Deputy Director (Master of Science in Foreign Service program)

Dr. Ashley Thomas Lenihan (SFS’00, PhD’09) is a professor of the practice of international affairs and deputy director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) program. She is an expert on economic statecraft, foreign investment and national security, and author of Balancing Power without Weapons. 

“The SFS community has a unique vibrancy, inquisitiveness and inclusiveness underlying its academic rigor and service-oriented culture,” Lenihan says of what first drew her to the school. Lenihan, an alumna of the SFS undergraduate and government PhD programs at Georgetown, is well-qualified to get to grips with the ins and outs of the campus community. She says, “It felt like a natural step to come back to the Hilltop, to give back to the community I love.”

Her policy work at the British Academy of Management and the Academy of Social Sciences focused on improving the impact of research on policymaking. She has also worked hard to improve national policies on foreign investment through fellowships at several British universities and think tanks, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in the U.S. and the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee in the U.K. She brings this expertise to her graduate-level classes, which include International Relations Theory and Practice, The Practice of Policy Tradecraft and National Security and Foreign Investment.

“I am passionate about teaching, and am excited to teach SFS students and offer them the kind of patient and meaningful mentorship and guidance that my Georgetown professors have given me over these many years,” she says.

Cecilia Van Hollen

Teaching Professor (Asian Studies Program)

Dr. Cecilia Van Hollen joins SFS as a teaching professor and core faculty member in the Asian Studies Program. A cultural and medical anthropologist, Van Hollen specializes in the social and cultural dimensions of health, medicine and global public health policy in India.

Van Hollen joins Asian Studies after serving as head of studies for anthropology at Yale-NUS College in Singapore and as an anthropology professor at Syracuse University and the University of Notre Dame. Last year, she taught classes for the SFS Science, Technology and International Affairs (STIA) program. Having lived in numerous countries across the world, including in  India, Singapore, France, Sri Lanka and Turkey, Van Hollen embodies the global spirit of SFS.

“I have been impressed and inspired by the level of intellectual engagement and commitment to addressing pressing global issues among the undergraduate and graduate students at Georgetown,” she said of her time in the STIA program and in anticipation of her first full year on campus.

She is looking forward to working at the intersection of numerous fields at Georgetown. She says, “I was drawn to the School of Foreign Service’s interdisciplinary approach to global issues and am excited to contribute to the growing interest in sociocultural anthropological perspectives, ethnographic research and South Asia Studies within SFS.”

Jodi Vittori

Professor of the Practice and Concentration Co-Chair for Global Politics and Security (Master of Science in Foreign Service program)

Dr. Jodi Vittori begins her new role as MSFS co-chair of the Global Politics and Security concentration after serving as U.S. research and policy manager for the Defense and Security Program at Transparency International and as a senior policy advisor for Global Witness.

Prior to her work in the nonprofit sector, Vittori advanced to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and served in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. During her military service, she joined NATO’s counter-corruption task force and was a faculty member at both the U.S. Air Force Academy and National Defense University. 

My years as an Air Force officer, followed by my post-military work studying the intersection of conflict, illicit finance and corruption for think tanks and civil society, have reinforced my belief that understanding governance is a critical aspect of national security and policy making,” Vittori says. She draws upon this expertise to her fall class, Corruption vs. Good Governance, and the spring MSFS core course, The Practice of Policy Tradecraft.

Vittori has previously taught as an adjunct faculty member in Georgetown’s Department of Government, where she got to know students at SFS personally. “I know firsthand the incredible caliber of the students and am excited to have the opportunity to work with them on a full-time basis,” she says.