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Doctoral student named national peace scholar

Sept. 21, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University political science doctoral student Fodei Batty has been named a 2007-08 Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar by the U.S. Institute of Peace, one of only 10 scholars nationally to receive the prestigious $20,000 award to support his field research and writing his dissertation.

Batty joins students from other universities such as Columbia, Cornell, Northwestern and Yale who were selected to receive the grant from among nearly 200 applicants.

A national of Sierra Leone, Batty is specializing in comparative politics at WMU, and his research interests are in development and modernization, democratization, ethnicity, public policy and institutions. His thesis attempts to dispel the belief that ethnicity is the major instrument of political mobilization in Africa using evidence from Liberia and Sierra Leone--two countries that have experienced two of the most brutal civil wars in recent history.

"In the past, talking about topics of subjects of a political nature was considered taboo by most people because of the atmosphere of fear and intimidation that existed under one-party rule. Now, most people are not afraid of expressing their opinions on major issues and even criticizing the government, if necessary," says Batty who is working on his thesis in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

"Fodei's research is unique for several reasons. He is conducting survey research in places recently devastated by civil war and societies that score nearly at the bottom of the human development index. It links issues of peace, democracy and development--three of the core issues in the field of political science. I'm not surprised that USIP found it a promising project, nor that Fodei is competitive among graduate students nationally," says Dr. James M. Butterfield, WMU professor of political science and Batty's dissertation advisor.

A former refugee in neighboring Guinea during his country's civil war, Batty received his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Sierra Leone and his master's degree from Indiana State University. He won the 2002 Indiana State University "Best Graduate Research" award for "International African Students' Views about Bureaucracy and Public Administration in Africa."

Batty's award is the latest of several for WMU's Department of Political Science doctoral program, which awarded its first degrees about 10 years ago. The program's students have included two Fulbright scholars, two who have won International Research and Exchanges Board grants, another who won a grant from the American Councils for International Education and one who was successful in the Middle East Research Competition.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

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