American Exchange Programs Bolstered East European Revolutions, Professor Wins National Grant for Work on Subject

Released: 29-May-2014 3:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: University of North Florida
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Newswise — Dr. Greg Domber, associate professor of history at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, is among a handful of professors across the country and the only professor in Florida to recently have been awarded a Strategy and Policy Fellowship by the Smith Richardson Foundation.

The $60,000 fellowship is a prominent junior faculty research grant awarded each year to only five individuals through a national competition. The fellowship supports the research and writing a book by young scholars and policy thinkers on American foreign policy, international relations, international security, military policy as well as diplomatic and military history.

“This is the first time that a UNF faculty member has been awarded this prestigious fellowship,” said Dr. John Kantner, UNF assistant vice president for research. “Dr. Domber’s research, which draws on recent history to inform today’s policy decisions, was clearly seen by the reviewers as exceptionally innovative and meritorious of this honor.”

Domber is currently in Washington D.C. at the National Archives using the fellowship to further his research on his new book “Cultivating Moderates: American Exchange Programs, Social Networks and the Negotiated Revolutions of 1989/1990.” He was awarded the grant in October, however, the fellowship just began this month and runs through Sept. 1, 2016.

The purpose of the project is to test the hypothesis that from the 1950s to the 1980s American exchange programs promoted the creation of a cadre of moderate intellectuals, bureaucrats, and politicians in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia that facilitated and shaped the peaceful settlements—usually referred to as “roundtable” negotiations—that typified the democratic transformations in these countries in 1989/1990.

“This comparative project is meant to find best practices for professional and educational exchange programs. The United States is not good at predicting when revolutionary events will upset existing authoritarian regimes, in Eastern Europe in 1989 or in more recent events in places like Egypt or Ukraine. This project explores whether a focused exchange program can help to protect broad American interests by fostering contacts with a wide variety of elites, those local leaders who will shepherd their countries through democratic transitions,” said Domber.

He has been a faculty member at UNF since 2008 and teaches “Craft of the Historian” and courses on American foreign policy, the international history of the Cold War and post-World War II domestic American social and political history. His scholarship focuses on American democracy promotion at the end of the Cold War, and he is the author of “Empowering Revolution: America, Poland and the End of the Cold War.” He has also published articles and chapters in the Journal of Cold War Studies, The Polish Review and numerous edited volumes.

Domber has also been awarded nationally competitive fellowships by the Polish-American Fulbright Commission and International Research and Exchanges, among others. In 2009, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations awarded him the Betty M. Unterberger Dissertation Prize.

He is a member of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies as well as the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. He earned his doctorate from The George Washington University and his bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College.

The mission of the Smith Richardson Foundation is to contribute to important public debates and to help address serious public policy challenges facing the United States. The foundation seeks to help ensure the vitality of social, economic, and governmental institutions. It also seeks to assist with the development of effective policies to compete internationally and advance U.S. interests and values abroad. This mission is embodied in their domestic and international grant programs.

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.

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