Two Kennesaw State University Ph.D. students awarded international scholarships

Eliza Markley and Samy Gerges

Members of first cohort to study, conduct research in Germany and Scotland

KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug. 09, 2012) — Two members of the first cohort of students in Kennesaw State University’s Ph.D. program in International Conflict Management have been awarded scholarships to study and conduct research at Edinburgh University in Scotland and at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany.

Samy Gerges of Egypt was awarded a Chevening UK Government scholarship to study alternative dispute resolution in international commercial law and Islamic financial law, as well as transitional justice, at Edinburgh University. Eliza Markley, a native of Romania, will conduct research on social capital in the global security community under a Marshall Center alumni scholarship.

“Both of these students have proven themselves at the top of their class,” said Volker Franke, director of Ph.D. in International Conflict Management program at Kennesaw State. “Securing external funding not only speaks to students’ ingenuity and their ability to succeed in the program, it also reflects positively on their academic marketability.”

Franke, who advises and guides Ph.D. students to external funding sources, said the Chevening scholarship awarded to Gerges is among “the most prestigious and competitive” scholarships provided by the European Union. 

Chevening scholarships are awarded to students from some 110 countries that have been identified as future leaders in politics, business, media, civil society, religion and academia.  Former recipients include former or current prime ministers and presidents of Poland, Columbia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Antiqua and Kiribati, as well as ministers and deputy ministers of India, Angola, Latvia, and Montenegro. 

“I was so happy to be selected,” said Gerges, who said it took more than a year to get through the application process, shortlisting, interviewing, identifying a suitable UK institution to meet his needs, and final decisions. “It was very competitive among a very talented group of graduates and young professionals.”

Prior to enrolling in Kennesaw State’s Ph.D. program, Gerges, who will receive about $41,000 for tuition and expenses for his year-long study at Edinburgh, worked as a project consultant with the European Union-United Nations Joint Migration and Development Initiative; Middle East Development, Dialogue and Solidarity in Cyprus; Citizens of Development Foundation in Egypt and with The Salam Institute for Peace and Justice in Washington, D.C.  He also was senior programs coordinator at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.  He holds a master’s in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from the American University School of International Service in Washington D.C., where he was a Fulbright scholar, and a bachelor’s in economics and political science from Cairo University in Egypt.

As part of his program requirements at Kennesaw State, Gerges worked with colleagues from three universities to design and conduct a research project on forgiveness in the Middle East.  The project took him to Egypt where the research team interviewed and surveyed subjects from Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt.  He also used mediation skills acquired in the program to train 45 imams and sheikhs how to deal with different cultural dynamics.

Gerges will return to Kennesaw State in August 2013 and complete his dissertation research into alternative dispute resolution and transitional justice.  He hopes to complete the Ph.D. program in May 2014. 

Markley, who in 2002 attended the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany as a Romanian military officer, received the organization’s alumni scholarship award, which will cover all her expenses as she travels to Germany, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Romania and other countries to conduct research.  Her interviews and focus groups in those countries seek to determine if more than 100 military and civilian Marshall Center alumni have forged a network of cooperation, developed trust and become aware of democratic values as a result of their studies at the Marshall Center.

The Marshall Center, a joint security and defense studies institute operated by the U.S. Department of Defense and the German Defense Ministry, offers graduate-level resident programs to military and civilian officials, primarily from Europe, Eurasia and North America.  According to its website, the institute’s mission since 1993 has been to create a more stable security environment by advancing democratic institutions and relationships, especially in the field of defense. 

“I am very humbled by the opportunity of working and conducting my research at the Marshall Center, where I have received positive and supportive response from the leadership,” said Markley, who also attributes her academic  achievements to Kennesaw State’s Ph.D. director Volker Franke.

Markley,  who holds a master’s in sociology from Spiru Haret University in Romania, and a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Bucharest, has worked as an adjunct faculty member in Kennesaw State’s Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice; a Romanian Army public affairs officer with the Department of Defense in Bucharest; and a public affairs officer and spokesperson for the Coalition, U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla.

The research Markley is conducting also will be used as a case study for her Kennesaw State dissertation research, which examines the extent to which international military education builds “social capital” that leads to networks, trust and the transmission of democratic values in the military. She hopes to finalize and defend her dissertation by December 2013.

The scholarship awards to Gerges and Markley are important milestones for Kennesaw State’s Ph.D. program in International Conflict Management, Franke said.  

The program, which began in 2010, is designed to develop scholars and teachers to educate future practitioners and decision makers in the approaches to global understanding, as well as train doctoral-level practitioners to work in critical international conflict fields. To date, 35 students from nearly 20 countries have been admitted in three cohorts through fall 2012. 

“More and more colleges and universities are looking for faculty members who can bring in external funding,” Franke said. “Both Eliza and Samy have proven they can do that, which should give them a leg up as they compete for academic positions upon graduation.”

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-- Sabbaye McGriff