photo: person walks across footbridge; research happening in the field; photo by Associate Professor Mona Atia


Elliott School Research

Through award-winning research, the Elliott School of International Affairs strives to create knowledge, share wisdom, and inspire action. Together, our centers, institutes, and research initiatives and cross-disciplinary faculty combine in-depth analysis with practical applications to better address the future's most pressing global challenges.


Research Spotlights

Elliott School Interdisciplinary Conference: Call for Proposals

Water: Problems and Possibilities, An Interdisciplinary Conference at the Elliott School of International Affairs


As water and waterways connect distant human populations, so too does water provide a thematic link between disparate scholarly disciplines. To better understand the water-related challenges facing states and populations and to promote interdisciplinary collaboration within the university, the Elliott School of International Affairs will host an interdisciplinary conference on Water: Problems and Possibilities on March 22, 2019.

The goals of the conference are to discuss past, present, and/or future research projects and to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration within the university. The Elliott School invites proposals from George Washington University faculty for presentations that deal with the subject of water, broadly defined. We seek conference participants from a wide range of disciplines, including but not limited to: biology, engineering, gender studies, medicine, geography, business, law, history, political science, public health, and security studies. We ask that GW faculty interested in participating in the conference please submit presentation proposals on or before February 11, 2019. For more information, please see the full call for proposals.

Ask the Author with John M. Logsdon

Ronald Reagan and the Space Frontier


Resoundingly reviewed as “a must-read,” Ronald Reagan and the Space Frontier is the latest publication from award-winning author and Elliott School Professor Emeritus John M. Logsdon. With what former NASA Chief Historian Roger D. Launius calls “verve and style” and “unparalleled knowledge,” Dr. Logsdon has crafted the first comprehensive telling of the Reagan administration’s civilian and commercial space policies. Gilbert Rye, the former National Security Council director for space programs, went so far as to describe the book’s “insightful analysis” as “a critical foundation that will benefit students, public servants, and industry executives for many years to come.” In the run-up to the book’s official launch, Dr. Logsdon offered further insight on his groundbreaking publication:

Ronald Reagan and the Space Frontier is my third (and likely last!) study of presidential decision-making on space, following John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon (2010) and After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program (2015). Reagan was personally the most pro-space president in US history, and made decisions with respect to the space shuttle, a space station, international space cooperation, and space commercialization that merited a full treatment.

Although Reagan viewed space as the ‘final frontier,’ his administration’s decisions on space were much more pragmatic than visionary. I might have expected him to set ambitious goals for NASA, but he did not impose his perspectives on what policy options were offered him. Instead, he allowed the alternative futures in space to be defined by often contentious interactions among his advisers, and chose the path forward from what they defined as feasible, given the president's concern about budget deficits and his other priorities. Reagan was, of course, a “great communicator,” and dressed his space decisions in rhetoric about 'American exceptionalism' and the rightful role of the United States as a global leader.

Some have accused Reagan of ‘sleepwalking through history.’ That is not the image of Ronald Reagan that comes through in my book. He had a particular style of leadership, setting out his broad priorities and allowing his staff and agency heads to devise ways of achieving them. He thought through the options presented to him, then chose a course of action that fit into his overall image of where the United States should be headed. He was not a detail-oriented, top-down decision maker, but he was a leader.”

John M. Logsdon

Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Affairs

Elliott School Professor Alison S. Brooks featured in Smithsonian Magazine

Alison S. Brooks

Dr. Alison S. Brooks

Professor of Anthropology

& International Affairs

Elliott School of

International Affairs

George Washington 


In their Smithsonian Magazine article, “What We Learned About Our Human Origins in 2018,” Smithsonian experts, paleolithic archaeologist Ella Beaudoin and paleoanthropologist Briana Pobiner, outline a year of significant discoveries in human evolution. For Beaudoin and Pobiner, among all the discoveries of the past year that allowed the world to better know what it means to be human, those resulting from Elliott School Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs Alison Brooks’ work at the Olorgesailie site in southern Kenya rank in the top six. For years, Professor Brooks and Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Rick Potts have co-lead a team exploring archaeological and paleoenvironmental records at Olorgesailie. In 2018, the Olorgesailie team published three papers in Science documenting human behavioral change and climatic variation. Among other exciting findings, Brooks and Potts’ work indicates that early humans responded to climatic uncertainty with enhanced innovation, social connection, and symbolic communication. For further information on these discoveries, please see their Science papers:


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Upcoming Elliott School Book Launch Series Events



Ronald Reagan and the Space Frontier



Award-Winning Faculty Publications

Elliott School Associate Professor Attiya Ahmad Wins Prestigious Book Award

In recognition of her 2017 book, Everyday Conversions: Islam, Domestic Work, and South Asian Migrant Women in Kuwait, the Middle East Studies Association awarded Elliott School Associate Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs Attiya Ahmad the 2018 Fatima Mernissi Book Award. Named for scholar and public intellectual Fatima Mernissi, this annual award honors outstanding scholarship in studies of gender, sexuality, and women's lived experience. The award committee expressed pride in giving this honor to a book that is, "lovingly researched, quiet in its aim, and yet stunning in its delineation of the lives of the women studied." For more on this stunning book, please see the official award announcement.

Everyday Conversions: Islam, Domestic Work, and South Asian Migrant Women in Kuwait




Meet the Research Team