James Fearon Joins Scholars in Service, Will Work at Defense Department

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Overhead view of the Pentagon

Stanford Political Science Professor James Fearon will work with the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense this year as part of the Scholars in Service program, sponsored by Stanford Impact Labs and the Haas Center for Public Service. Fearon will work with U.S. Department of Defense colleagues on a range of policy issues, including preparation of the 2022 National Defense Strategy. As part of Fearon’s engagement with Department of Defense colleagues, he will also gain insights into how deterrence theory is interpreted and applied in practice, and into how new academic research in this area could better engage the issues that policymakers are grappling with in a fast-changing political and technological landscape.

Jim Fearon

Fearon’s research focuses on international and intrastate conflict, including work on deterrence theory and factors that influence the risk of nuclear and conventional war. “The Department of Defense is absolutely enormous.  I look forward to understanding better how defense policies emerge from a very complex process, and where there are margins for adjusting the course of what amounts to a gigantic oceanliner that does not exactly turn on a dime.”  

Fearon joins four other scholars in service this year who are working closely with policymakers, advocates, and community leaders to find and promote practical, evidence-based ways to make progress on local and national social issues:

  • Anisha Patel, associate professor of pediatrics, will work with community organizations to enhance programs providing children and their families in the San Joaquin Valley of California with access to healthy food.
  • Suzan Carmichael, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology, will work with the Louisiana Department of Public Health to identify strategies to reduce maternal mortality, especially among Black mothers in Louisiana.
  • Ira Lit, associate professor of education, will work in the Office of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker to inform federal legislation to advance justice and equity for families, with a focus on education and economic policies.
  • Gopi Shah Goda, senior fellow and deputy director of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), will serve with the White House Council of Economic Advisers, focusing on federal policies related to long-term care, retirement and social insurance programs.

The goal of the Scholars in Service program is for faculty to share their research expertise with government agencies and community organizations, and to experience first-hand the challenges and opportunities of turning research into policies and programs. The Scholars in Service program provides funding and support so faculty can spend up to a full academic year, contributing to the work of their host organization and enhancing their research. 

“Through the Scholars in Service program, Stanford faculty bring analytical rigor to partnerships with outside leaders generating and implementing policy solutions, managing programs and advocating for change. These in-depth exchanges position our faculty to learn directly from experts working on the frontlines and can spark new, evidence-based insights and approaches with the potential to improve the lives and well-being of people in our local communities and across the United States,” said Jeremy Weinstein, professor of political science and faculty director of Stanford Impact Labs.