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Arlen Specter Center Fellowships
The Arlen Specter Center at Thomas Jefferson University offers competitive research fellowships to aid scholars in the pursuit of study and research. The $5,000 competitive research fellowships are awarded to graduate students or post-graduate scholars in areas such as political science, international studies, history, public policy, public administration and public health. The fellowships highlight and raise awareness of the significant impact the late senator’s work on American politics, criminal justice, healthcare policy and culture. In addition to publishing their research, fellows present their work at Specter Center events on the East Falls campus to bolster intellectual discourse. Funding for the fellowships is provided by Specter’s son, Philadelphia trial attorney and law professor Shanin Specter and his wife, Tracey Specter. Past fellowship recipients have been praised for the quality of their work, which has also generated wide interest; as of April, 2021, the papers generated 2,800 downloads.
In a letter in late 2020, Karen M. Gilbert, coordinator of the Arlen Specter Center noted that one of the center’s latest fellows was awaiting notification regarding acceptance of her paper in an academic publication, Journal of Policy History. The center was also expecting completion of the second fellow’s paper. Noted Gilbert: “The late Senator’s legacy provides an ongoing rich source of meaningful topics for research and study, and the Specter Fellowships are becoming known in relevant academic communities. We have already received inquiries about the next round of fellowships from several very reputable scholars.”
The following fellowships were awarded in March, 2021:
2021 - 2022 Research Fellowship Award Recipients:
Gabriel C. Kelly, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at George Washington University
Mr. Kelly will examine how congressional representatives can help define U.S. foreign policy towards the People's Republic of China. Mr. Kelly will examine the Arlen Specter Senatorial Papers and provide case study evidence on how congressional representatives can help shape foreign policy in the region.
Raju Parakkal, Ph.D. Associate Professor of International Relations, College of Humanities and Sciences, Thomas Jefferson University – East Falls Campus, Philadelphia, PA
Research Title: Antitrust and American Sports Leagues: Lessons for Antitrust Legislative Action Against Big Tech
Dr. Parakkal’s research interests include laws and challenges posed by Big Tech—large technology and internet firms such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon (GAFA)—to market competition, consumer choice, and consumer welfare. In recent years, U.S. lawmakers and federal antitrust officials have become increasingly cognizant of the threat posed by the vastly increasing dominance of GAFA. As a lawmaker, Senator Specter was active in U.S. antitrust matters and was a member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. Specter paid considerable attention to addressing antitrust concerns in the sports industry surrounding the top four professional sports leagues in the country. Dr. Parakkal plans to produce a research paper on lessons learned from the antitrust experience—including Senator Specter’s experience with American sports leagues, that can be applied to antitrust proceedings against Big Tech.
Mitchell Topf Graduate Assistant, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH
Research Topic: Arlen Specter and Middle Eastern Diplomacy with a Focus on Syria
Mr.Topf's research will focus on Senator Arlen Specter's involvement in Middle Eastern diplomacy, which grew out of his membership on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Specter took many trips and to the region to meet with leaders such as Hafez al-Assad of Syria and Yassar Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Mr. Topf's research will utilize Specter's papers and documents from his travels to the Middle East, to see if Specter’s work and experiences in this area shed light on contemporary regional conflicts. Topf hopes to make this research the focus of his Master’s Thesis.
The 2019-2020 Research fellows were Charlotte Rosen, a Ph.D. candidate in history at Northwestern University, whose final paper was titled: “ ‘It’s at the state and local level that problems exist’: The Armed Career Criminal Act and the Puzzle of Federal Crime Control in the Reagan Era.” This paper looked into Specter’s anxieties about the government’s insufficient prison capacity. Timothy N. Welbeck, an adjunct faculty member at Thomas Jefferson and Temple universities, researched Specter’s work as a basis for analyzing and contextualizing the current criminal justice reform movement insights andhow the 1994 federal Crime Bill achieved some of its aims, while having significant unintended consequences. His final paper was entitled: “Specter of Reform: Understanding the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and its Role in Expanding the Modern Prison Industrial Complex.”
The two most recent fellows were Charlotte Rosen, a Ph.D. candidate in history at Northwestern University, whose paper was titled “Last Night Was a Riot, Tonight Was a War: Crime Politics and Carceral Crisis in Late Postwar Pennsylvania, 1966-1995” which looked into Specter’s anxieties about the government’s insufficient prison capacity, and Timothy N. Welbeck, an adjunct faculty member at Thomas Jefferson and Temple universities, who researched Specter’s work as a basis for analyzing and contextualizing the current criminal justice reform movement insights into how the 1994 federal Crime Bill achieved some of its aims, while having significant unintended consequences.
Previous fellows included and their papers include the following: