Senior Brenna Gautam spends a significant amount of time in the Hesburgh Center. Gautam finds herself here, at the home of the Kellogg and Kroc Institutes, several days a week to meet with faculty, work as a research assistant, and coordinate the upcoming Student Peace Conference.
One of the programs that interested Gautam in her first year at Notre Dame was the Kellogg Institute’s International Scholars Program. As an international scholar, Gautam has the opportunity to work alongside faculty fellows and gain a more in-depth study of international interests. “ISP has provided me exposure to new types of research. Working with my professor gave me a different skill set and expanded my research interests,” she said.
Gautam is currently working with Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow Larissa Fast on the Aid in Danger project to update the Security in Numbers database. This project, which involves real time entries of violent attacks against humanitarian aid workers around the world, helps international aid organizations assess the threats and vulnerabilities posed to their workers in a particular area.
Within the program, Gautam appreciates the opportunity to engage in the Kellogg community and work with peers and faculty mentors. “I believe that working for a professor and getting to know them creates a different kind of a relationship,” Gautam said, “It also holds you accountable to working with someone above you.” Moreover, Gautam’s research experience as an international scholar prepared her to conduct independent research on youth identity in Kosovo.
Concentrating her interest in international studies on Eastern Europe, Gautam conducted research in Kosovo and Serbia during the summers after her sophomore and junior years to obtain case studies for her work on student protests. During her junior year, she studied abroad in Greece for a semester. “I was able to take classes in Athens about the politics of the Balkans region and then I traveled throughout southeastern Europe,” she said.
Together, these experiences of researching and studying abroad encouraged Gautam to start “Global Zero at Notre Dame,” a club on campus that is part of the international movement to create a world without nuclear weapons. After she graduates in May, Gautam wants to pursue international law with an interest in brokering nuclear disarmament agreements.
In recognition of Gautam’s commitment to academic excellence in the fields of peace and justice, she was recently selected to receive the 2015 Yarrow Award in Peace Studies from the Kroc Institute. Gautam credited her work with the U.S. State Department and with the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, D.C. as two key contributions that led to her success in peace studies.
Overall, Gautam says that the International Scholars Program has helped her to pursue her international interests. “Having faculty mentors in both the Kellogg and Kroc Institutes has added dimension to my own research interests. The International Scholars Program helped me to facilitate these relationships and develop my own work,” she said.