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New FSI initiative expands global research opportunities for students


Josh Weiner, Zack Bonzell, '15, Dr. Paul Wise, and Lily Steyer, '15, (left to right) carrying supplies in rural Guatemala.
Photo credit: 
Elena Cryst

Zack Bonzell came to Stanford with a strong interest in human biology and political science. Last summer, the undergraduate had the chance to fuse his interests while doing field research with faculty at the university’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). 

During a two-week internship, he travelled to Guatemala with FSI senior fellows Paul Wise, Beatriz Magaloni, Alberto Díaz-Cayeros and Scott Rozelle to learn about the country’s rural health care system by shadowing doctors and interviewing mothers in an impoverished area about the issues leading to the area’s high rates of child malnutrition.

“That experience was an ideal way to blend my interests and gave me a better idea of how to craft my course of study at Stanford,” said Bonzell, who is now a junior. “One of the things that really struck me was when Paul Wise said the health outcomes we were seeing are the result of extreme material deprivation. These people are sick because they are poor. That gave me more of an interest in political economy.”

Students conduct interviews about nutrition with REAP in China. Photo Credit: Matt Boswell

FSI is now expanding its educational opportunities for students, like Bonzell, who want to do research on global issues in Asia, Latin America, Europe and Africa.

The Stanford Global Student Fellows program (SGSF) is being funded in large part through a $1.25 million anonymous gift that will help grow existing programs and create new offerings for graduates and undergraduates.

“This program deepens FSI’s commitment to its mission of educating the next generation of leaders in international affairs,” said FSI Director Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar. “It also offers outstanding opportunities for Stanford students to work closely with the leading thinkers on global policy issues.”

The program, which is part of FSI’s efforts to expand student opportunities, will build on the institute’s undergraduate mentorship programs that allow students to work on faculty research projects each quarter. Those positions will now be available during the summer. Some of the positions will be connected to projects in FSI’s new International Policy Implementation Lab, an initiative that gives students a close-up view of how academics and policy influencers can address some of the world’s thorniest issues.

PoliSci 114S students work together in a UN conflict simulation. Photo Credit: Rod Searcey

Building on FSI’s experience placing students in research opportunities, the program will create and expand summer field research internships. The two- to six-week internships this summer will give undergraduates the opportunity to work with FSI senior fellows in China, Guatemala, India and Mexico who study global health, conflict resolution, governance and poverty reduction.  In coming years, the program will likely include additional fieldwork projects in Rwanda, Tanzania and Brazil. The SGSF program covers all travel expenses for students and provides students with an opportunity to work closely with a faculty member and a team of other students on an ongoing research project addressing real-world problems in a specific region. 

“What makes FSI such an incredible institution is that it attracts faculty who have very pragmatic interests,” Bonzell said. “It seeks to wed academic work with a more direct impact, and there’s a lot of potential for more students to think along similar lines.”

The Stanford Global Student Fellows will also allow FSI to work closely with its partners, including the Program in International Relations, the Haas Center for Public Service, and Stanford in Government to provide opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. 

Mexican Ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora and Jorge Olarte, '13, speaking with students at the US-Mex FoCUS event. Photo Credit: Rod Searcey

One of the program’s new initiatives geared toward undergraduates is the Global Policy Summer Fellowships. The fellowships help secure placement and a $6,000 stipend for students interested in interning at international policy and international affairs organizations. This summer, The Europe Center at FSI is placing students at the Center for European Policy Studies and Bruegel, two Brussels-based think tanks. Future positions will be created with six offerings abroad and two based in the United States.including the Program in International Relations, the Haas Center for Public Service, and Stanford in Government to provide opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. 

The Stanford Global Student Fellows program will also commit $400,000 to create a Mentored Global Research Fellowship that will provide research opportunities for students to conduct their own overseas research under the close mentorship of a faculty member. The program will award stipends of $6,000 for summer undergraduate projects and $9,000 for summer graduate projects, and $1,500 for smaller projects executed during the school year.

Thomas Hendee '13 chatting with children in rural Guatemala. Photo Credit: Maria Contreras

The faculty advisory committee overseeing the development and implementation of these new programs includes Scott Rozelle, the Helen F. Farnsworth Senior Fellow and the co-director of FSI’s Rural Education Action Program; Stephen Stedman, a senior fellow at FSI and the deputy director of CDDRL; and Lisa Blaydes, assistant professor of political science.

The application deadline for all summer programs is Feb. 28, 2015. The deadline to apply for academic quarterly programs is the end of the first week of each quarter, beginning in the fall of 2014. 

For more information, students should contact Elena Cryst at and watch for postings on FSI’s student program Facebook page. Students can also sign up for the program’s distribution and announcement list.