The Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum seeks a fellow to contribute to its research project on “Preventing Mass Atrocities: Lessons Learned,” made possible by a grant from The Leonard and Sophie Davis Fund.
The project aims to improve atrocity prevention strategies by strengthening their linkages to an expanding and increasingly accessible body of policy-relevant knowledge. This fellowship will support analysis on how “lessons learned” can be more effectively integrated into US government atrocity prevention policymaking processes.
The fellow will refine research questions and select appropriate methods, conduct primary research, write at least one report on their findings and recommendations, and help organize seminars or other events to solicit feedback from and present results to policymakers, scholars, and other interested audiences. The fellow will work closely with the Simon-Skjodt Center’s research director, other staff, and other outside collaborators. The fellow should be equipped to use social science and policy research methods, especially semi-structured interviews and comparative case analysis.
This component of the “Lessons-Learned” project will focus on developing recommendations for how the US government can more routinely and consistently make effective use of knowledge on mass atrocities and atrocity prevention strategies in its policy decision making.
Virtually every report on US government efforts to prevent mass atrocities has called for greater investment in “lessons learned” or “after action” reporting efforts. (These include the 2008 Genocide Prevention Task Force report, the 2016 report of the Experts Committee on Preventing Mass Violence, analyses of the Obama administration’s atrocity prevention efforts by the Global Public Policy Institute and former White House official Stephen Pomper, and a 2020 “blueprint” for atrocity prevention and response by Beth Van Schaack.) Despite the apparent consensus that the United States should document lessons more systematically and use this knowledge to inform future mass atrocity prevention policy decisions, no study has analyzed why these problems endure and how they can be addressed most effectively.
The fellow’s research should address the following questions:
How has the US government used knowledge in policy decision making processes related to mass atrocities?
What factors are associated with effective use of knowledge on comparable policy decisions in comparable institutional contexts?
How could the U.S government improve its use of knowledge in policy decision making related to mass atrocities?
Terms of fellowship
Duration: The Simon-Skjodt Center is seeking a fellow for approximately 6 months, but will consider exceptional candidates for a shorter or longer period. Fellows will be non-residential, but will be expected to keep in regular contact with the Simon-Skjodt Center Research Team during the term of the fellowship. A full timeline will be agreed upon before the fellowship begins.
Publication: The fellowship will result in at least one written report for the Simon-Skjodt Center on the results of the research. The fellow may also be requested to present their work at appropriate convenings which they may help organize. In addition, the fellow will be encouraged to publish findings based on fellowship research in scholarly journals, relevant blogs, and policy journals.
Support: A competitive stipend will be provided, commensurate with experience.
Knowledge of and prior research on mass atrocities, atrocity prevention strategies and tools, US foreign policy processes, or closely related topics;
Previous policy experience, especially in the US government, is strongly preferred;
Advanced degree or at least seven years of professional experience on related topics;
Strength of the proposed research plans and their alignment with the goals of the Simon-Skjodt Center;
Ability to communicate information in a clear manner to a variety of audiences.
How to apply
A 1-2 page cover letter outlining qualifications, describing how you propose to pursue the research questions articulated above, and how it will advance the goals of the Simon-Skjodt Center.
CV and contact information for three references.
About the Simon-Skjodt Center
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum teaches that the Holocaust was preventable and that by heeding warning signs and taking early action, individuals and governments can save lives. With this knowledge, the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide works to do for the victims of genocide today what the world failed to do for the Jews of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. The mandate of the Simon-Skjodt Center is to alert the United States’ national conscience, influence policy makers, and stimulate worldwide action to prevent and work to halt acts of genocide or related crimes against humanity, and advance justice and accountability. For more information, see: https://www.ushmm.org/genocide-prevention