Elm Staff Writer
Sophomore Rute Assefa has been announced as the third recipient of the Jacob Marberger ’18 Endowed Memorial Fellowship.
The fellowship is an annual scholarship for independent research on conflict resolution awarded by the Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture (IRPC) in honor of the legacy of Marberger.
Established in 2016 following the death of student Marberger the previous year, the $2,500 fellowship is administered by the IRPC and awarded to a student seeking to conduct a research project on conflict and conflict resolution. The fellowship is one of six student opportunities offered by the IRPC in addition to other fellowships, internships, and international opportunities.
The year-long research projects are supervised by Associate Political Science Professor and Director of the IRPC Dr. Joseph Prud’homme. The fellowship recipients’ research findings are presented to the campus community the following year.
The Marberger family strives to attend every presentation, according to Prud’homme.
During its inaugural year, the fellowship was awarded to former WC student Daniel Schaefer. In the spirit of the fellowship’s namesake, Schaefer used the resources and guidance provided by the fellowship to research conflict, anti-bullying initiatives, and public perceptions of conflict resolution on college campuses. Previous recipients of the fellowship also include senior Nathan Radtke, who recently presented his findings on Russia and Ukraine on Nov. 5, and junior Allison Hinshaw, who is expected to present her work on the period of the founding of the United States in the spring of 2019.
“[Dr. Prud’homme] had recommended this particular fellowship as I am an international studies major with minors in peace and conflict studies and European studies, and we developed a plan that would allow me to satisfy both his course’s and the fellowship’s requirements,” Radtke said. “In the end, my research project retained the focus on the nature of liberty — particularly with regards to a nation’s constitution — but shifted examination from the United States to the Russian Federation.”
Assefa, a political science major, is focusing her research for the fellowship on the current state of political polarization in the United States.
“I’m writing about the polarization between Democrats and Republicans and about how the differences between the definition of ‘Democrat’ and the definition of ‘Republican’ have increased drastically,” Assefa said. “[My research is] about the constant battle between the two parties and about how we should work together as a country. George Washington was very opposed to political parties because he thought it would divide the country to the point of foreign invasion and foreign corruption.”
As director of the IRPC, Prud’homme is excited to continue to mentor the fellowship recipients and oversee their research projects over the coming years.
“It’s a powerful opportunity for a student to work closely with a faculty member on a pressing issue and to develop their research and writing skills and their presentation skills,” Prud’homme said. “It’s also a great honor to the legacy of Jacob Marberger.”