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PIPS Fellows 2020-2021

 Lauren Boyes
“Where Do We Go Now? Satellite Imagery and GIS for Sustainable Relocation”

As millions of people affected by climate change move towards urban centers within low-and middle-income countries, the United States has a low-cost opportunity to mitigate the destabilizing effects of this mass population redistribution. Stakeholders can use satellite imagery and geographic information systems (GIS) to identify suitable regions for the internal relocation of environmentally vulnerable communities. The United States can fund partnerships with high-risk countries in order to bolster state capacity to utilize these technologies, establish principles for data analysis and relocation, and reduce the financial burden of climate displacement planning on already fragile states.


Christina Durham




Nitya Labh
“Geographic Revisionism: Chinese Land Reclamation and Ambitions in the Southwest Pacific”

As sea levels rise, China will export its island-building capabilities to Pacific Island Countries (PICs). These countries will experience frequent flooding, coastal erosion, and eventual submergence due to climate change. Beijing is well positioned to capitalize on its island-building capabilities to offer PICs a much-needed service, as well as financing. Land reclamation projects will give China increased political and economic leverage over PICs, threatening the U.S. and allied defense posture in the Western Pacific. In response, Washington and its regional partners should take a multilateral approach to: (1) offer alternative land reclamation services and funding for climate resiliency and (2) highlight and limit problematic Chinese economic activity in the region.


Amelia Larson
“From Singalongs to Spheres of Influence: How Russia Exports Patriotic Military Education to Post-Soviet Youth

Since 2015, Russia has reinvigorated a campaign of military education programs, including military-oriented youth groups, summer camps, competitions, and day programs. These programs serve a dual purpose: to teach military skills and indoctrinate school-aged children with pro-Russian worldviews. Russia has a history of youth initiatives designed to instill patriotism. However, this new wave of programs extends this model to contested zones and neighboring countries, expanding Russia’s web of influence over youth abroad. Russian influence is more organized where possible and flexible where not, creating a model for Russia to expand its use in the future. With this new era of youth military education, Russia will shape the political role of post-Soviet youth and disadvantage U.S. partners and allies.


Morgan Pincombe
“Casting a Neocolonial Net: China’s Exploitative Fishing in the Gulf of Guinea”

China’s exploitation of fishing access and ports in the Gulf of Guinea creates an opportunity for the United States. China capitalizes on the weak bargaining power and enforcement capabilities of countries in the region, signing unequal contracts with local governments that enable unbridled resource extraction, illegal fishing, and military power projection. Chinese contracts mirror those enforced by Western countries during China’s Century of Humiliation. To combat these practices, the United States can employ tactics similar to those used by China between 1839 and 1949. The United States should provide legal support to local governments negotiating with China, while also conducting a public diplomacy campaign that highlights Beijing’s neocolonial behavior. Gulf of Guinea fisheries are a low-cost, low-risk setting where the United States can develop a model for mitigating Chinese predatory investment practices globally.


Sania Shahid
“Loose Links Sink Ships: Opportunities in the World of Online Piracy”

Piracy websites on the surface web attract traffic on a scale comparable to legitimate media platforms, accounting for 31.5 percent of media viewership. Current analysis of online piracy is focused largely on mitigation efforts, which, while necessary, overlooks the opportunity presented by piracy networks. Civil society organizations can use piracy networks to provide access to media and messages restricted by authoritarian governments, create platforms for grassroots social movements, and promote human rights. Through targeted advertisements, pre-movie trailers, and cinematic filters aimed at international audiences, piracy networks can be a vehicle to empower vulnerable populations worldwide.


Selene Swanson
“By the People: The Role of Local Deliberative Forums in Combating Affective Political Polarization”

Affective political polarizationor deep intergroup antipathyhas increased rapidly in the United States in recent decades, threatening American democracy. This extreme polarization creates a weakness that can be exploited by foreign adversaries to undermine U.S. global leadership and reduce the appeal of democracy to Americans and observers abroad. Local governments can play an important role in addressing this threat by introducing deliberative forums designed to reduce affective political polarization within their communities. These forums will allow for meaningful contact between partisans, building trust and demonstrating that cross-partisan cooperation is possible.