The Program on Religion, Diplomacy and International Relations (PORDIR), now in its twelfth year, has selected 18 Princeton University undergraduate and graduate students as 2018-19 student fellows. The fellows were selected through a competitive application process. The fellows are: Kaveh Badrei, Atakan Baltaci, David Bowman, Kathryn Dantzlerward, Mariachiara Ficarelli, Jonathan Garaffa, Danna Hargett, Ananya Malhotra, Erin Mooz, Will Nolan, Samuel Rasmussen, Elkhyn Rodriguez, Emerson Salovaara, Ronit Sela, Joshua Tebeau, Misha Tseitlin, Conor Wilson, and Stephanie Zgouridi. The theme for this year's program is "Religion and Negotiation." PORDIR fellows participate in weekly lunch seminars, conduct original research, and participate PORDIR's annual colloquium.
About the PORDIR Fellows
Kaveh Badrei is a junior from Houston, Texas in the Woodrow Wilson School with certificates in French Language and Culture and the History and Practice of Diplomacy. His academic concentrations include human rights, political theory, peace studies, and international law. He is particularly interested in the ways that international institutions can contribute to positive change and progress in issues pertaining to conflict resolution, social and political justice, and the defense of human rights. On campus, he writes for the Daily Princetonian and was involved with the Pace Center for Civic Engagement as a John C. Bogle ‘51 Fellow in Civic Service. In the past, Kaveh has worked with the World Affairs Council of Houston, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights."
Atakan Baltaci is a senior from Istanbul, Turkey. He is majoring at the Woodrow Wilson School and getting a certificate in Environmental Studies. His academic interests range from climate change adaptation and environmental justice to international development. Throughout his time at Princeton, Atakan studied abroad at Oxford and interned in Argentina and Italy. His interest in religion stems from his time growing up in Istanbul, where he was not only exposed to various religious communities in Istanbul's diverse setting, but also the increasing role religion came to play in Turkish politics. As a PORDIR fellow, Atakan is hoping to look at how religious institutions impact international environmental negotiations.
David Bowman is a senior from Athens, Alabama. Though a Woodrow Wilson School major, David's academic interests also include Computer Science and Spanish. David spent considerable time abroad throughout his Princeton career, including summers in Buenos Aires and Madrid, and fall semester of junior year at Oxford University. On campus, he volunteers at an after school program called Princeton Young Achievers, is a leader in Princeton Faith & Action (a Christian ministry), an undergraduate fellow of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, and an avid pick-up basketball player. His own personal faith, as well as recent exposure to the Israel-Palestine conflict, have sparked his interest in religion and diplomacy.
Kathryn Dantzlerward is a History undergraduate student, and is currently working on a thesis addressing how ancient Chinese artifacts contribute to perceptions of modern-day China. Kathryn had the honor of working with other organizations on campus, such as the CONTACT Helpline for Mercer County. For her PORDIR research, she is interested in learning more about how religion influences our response time and memorializing of mass atrocities and genocides. Kathryn also loves writing in her spare time, and has written short stories and poems.
Mariachiara Ficarelli was born in Reggio Emilia, Italy but grew up in South Africa, Germany, India, America and the Philippines. Now, a senior in the Anthropology department with a certificate in Values and Public Life, her independent research focuses on the affective urban spatial dimensions of Eritrean refugee-hood in Italy. She hopes to pursue graduate studies in Anthropology focusing on the intersection of interdisciplinary scholarship and activism.
Jonathan Garaffa is a junior majoring in philosophy with a certificate in cognitive science. Jonathan hails from Montgomery, New Jersey. His academic interests include theology, philosophy of science, metaphysics, and psychology. Outside of academics, he enjoys DJing for Princeton's community radio station WPRB and playing bass guitar. Jonathan was inspired to join PORDIR after learning about the religion and state politics of Israel.
Danna Hargett has a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Fellow at Princeton University before heading into consulting. She currently serves as a Project Manager for Alcimed in Innovation and New Business consulting with a focus on Healthcare and a specialty in new vaccine development. She is very interested in the public debate over healthcare coverage policies and their impact on the public health. She is currently working on understanding how religious organizations can help influence behaviors to control the spread of infectious diseases.
Ananya Agustin Malhotra is a junior from Atlanta, Georgia in the Woodrow Wilson School pursuing certificates in French Language & Culture, Humanistic Studies and the History and Practice of Diplomacy. Her academic areas of interest include international law, transitional justice, and peace studies as well as their intersections with critical theory and postcolonial studies. In summer 2018, she worked at the European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest, Hungary, researching cases of anti-Roma discrimination and helping to prepare cases for submission to the European Court of Human Rights. On campus, she serves as the Vice President of Internal Development for the SHARE (Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources, & Education) Office Peers Program, and is also involved in the European Union Program and the Behrman Society of Undergraduate Fellows.
Will Nolan is a senior from Williamstown Massachusetts. He is majoring in philosophy with certificates in Hellenic Studies and Medieval Studies. In his study at Princeton and abroad at Oxford University, he has focused on human nature in ancient and medieval philosophy. On campus, he is involved with the sustainable garden project and the Aquinas Institute Catholic ministry.
Sam Rasmussen, a proud Utahn, is a senior in the Wilson School focusing on international relations. Receiving a State Department National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship to China in high school sparked Sam’s interest in different cultures and ways of looking at the world. He pursued this interest by studying abroad at Tsinghua and Peking Universities during his time at Princeton, and by serving as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan before his freshman year. He spent the last two summers at the State Department working on Myanmar policy and human rights and hopes to join the Foreign Service.
Elkhyn Rivas Rodriguez is a senior in the History Department. He focuses on US-Asia relations in the post-WWII period; his current research examines American society’s reception and response to the rise of Japan in the 1970s and ‘80s and China today. On campus, Elkhyn is the President of Princeton Diplomatic Invitational, the University’s collegiate Model UN conference; Co-chair of the Peer Representative corps, where he represents students accused of academic infractions before the University Honor Committee; and the Vice President of Princeton Mock Trial. Born in Venezuela, Elkhyn was raised in Florida and South Carolina and will join McKinsey & Co. upon graduation."
Emerson Salovaara is a senior in the Philosophy department. For his senior thesis, he will analyze conceptions of authority and obligation in the contrasting traditions of legal positivism and natural law theory. Born and raised in New York City, he was brought up Episcopalian and received Anglican schooling, though he is now undergoing the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults through Princeton's Aquinas Institute. Emerson's primary academic interests are political theory, medieval philosophy, and the classical literary canon, and as a PORDIR fellow he hopes to examine the use of religious appeals by autocratic leaders to consolidate popular support. In his spare time, he hosts reading groups and competes in triathlons.
Ronit Sela joins the MPP program at the Woodrow Wilson School after spending the last decade working for The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). She has extensive experience in policy advocacy, public outreach and field research aimed at safeguarding human rights in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Prior to joining ACRI Ronit worked as an online news editor and for seven summers taught high school students a course on Journalism and Ethics at Brandeis University. She lives in Jerusalem and had spent long periods of time in the US, the UK and Ethiopia. Ronit holds a BA in History and Middle East Studies from Tel Aviv University, and had studied Jewish philosophy and tradition at several religious institutions.
Joshua Tebeau is a sophomore from Warsaw, Poland, planning on majoring in Politics and completing a certificate in Humanistic Studies. Before Princeton, he finished high school in the United States at Deerfield Academy and spent a year in Dakar, Senegal as part of Princeton's Bridge Year Program. In Senegal, Josh worked at ImagiNation Afrika, an education NGO focused on teaching critical thinking and changing the way Senegalese children perceive themselves and their ability to contribute to development. Josh also wrote, directed and produced "Picking Up the Pieces", an award-winning 28 minute documentary film looking at the emotional, religious and personal recovery of child Holocaust survivors after the war. At Princeton, outside of class Josh plays for the Princeton Men's Rugby team, is an International leader at the Davis International Center, and is on the Princeton Law Review.
Misha Tseitlin is a sophomore from the San Francisco Bay Area in California, originally hailing from the country of Georgia. A prospective Woodrow Wilson School concentrator pursuing certificates in Neuroscience and Statistics and Machine Learning (SML), he is interested in bioethics, conflict resolution, and development. On campus, he is involved with the Debate Panel (PDP), Sustainable Engineering and Development Scholars (SEADS), and Princeton University Nonprofit Consulting (PUNC).
Conor Wilson is a sophomore and prospective Molecular Biology major. He was born in Scotland to an Irish Catholic family, and grew up in rural Northern Ireland. Prior to his matriculation at Princeton, he participated in its Bridge Year Program in Salvador, Brazil. As a concentrator in the sciences, his interest in the PORDIR fellowship stems from the intersection of science and public policy, and international cooperation on common scientific goals. Moreover, his Irish background has given him some perspective on interstate actors as they relate to conflict. He hopes to broaden this perspective by exchanging experiences and ideas with other PORDIR fellows.
Stephanie Zgouridi is a second year PhD student in the department of history. Her primary field of interest is modern European intellectual history and the surrounding topics with which it overlaps, ranging from aesthetics to jurisprudence. She has recently embarked on a study of Catholic jurists in Franco's Spain, and the ways in which they molded, trimmed, and tailored the concept of the "Catholic universal" to support everything from totalitarianism to liberal-democratic pluralism. Chinese-Caucasian by ethnicity and Brazilian-American by culture, Stephanie spends much of her free time traveling, tasting a variety of delicious cuisines, and wishing that airplane seats were more comfortable.
Established in 2007, the Program on Religion, Diplomacy, and International Relations offers students and faculty at Princeton University the opportunity to study, reflect, and generate ideas and publications concerning the multiple intersections of religion, diplomacy and international relations. PORDIR aims to explore the influence of religion and religious beliefs in the conduct of international relations, diplomacy and politics; facilitate discussions about religion and international relations in a neutral, non-ideological forum; encourage interdisciplinary, inter-generational, international and interreligious exchanges among students, scholars and policy practitioners; and promotes research, teaching and publication relating to religion and international relations.
A key component of PORDIR is the opportunity for a cohort of undergraduate and graduate students – representing a range of religious, academic and ideological perspectives – to participate as Fellows in Religion, Diplomacy, and International Relations. Fellows conduct research projects, participate in weekly lunch seminars, and present their independent research at an end of the semester event. The objective of these weekly seminars is to facilitate a scholarly environment that provides academic guidance, opportunities for peer-to-peer critique and encourages an interdisciplinary approach to the broad topics of religion, diplomacy, and international relations. These seminars provide fellows access to visiting researchers, political figures, and religious leaders who visit the weekly sessions as guest speakers. The sessions are a unique opportunity for fellows to voice their opinions, test hypothesizes, and learn from a diverse array of people. Past PORDIR fellows have come from a variety of departments and programs, bringing their specific academic backgrounds and interdisciplinary methodologies to bear on key issues related to religion, diplomacy, and international relations.