About the New Faces Conferences

The Junior and Interdisciplinary Faces of International Security Program, affectionately dubbed, “New Faces” was the brain-child of Peter Feaver and Henk Goemans.  Now in its seventeenth year, it has become one of our most successful efforts. It was funded for three years by the Smith Richardson Foundation and has also received generous support from the Josiah Trent Memorial Foundation, and the Duke University Center for International Studies. It is currently funded by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

The TISS “New Faces” project addresses the need to cultivate and strengthen the ties among junior scholars examining U.S. national strategy and foreign policy.In particular, the project aims to foster interdisciplinary scholarship in security studies by identifying and investing in outstanding junior scholars who are doing their research in fields such as Political Science, History, and Public Policy.

The format of the TISS “New Faces” initiative is simple.  Seven to ten of the most highly-qualified young scholars who are working in the field of Security Studies are invited to participate in the conference. They will have just completed their doctoral dissertations, or be nearing the completion thereof.  Most of them will be on, or about to go on the job-market.  A committee, composed of TISS faculty members, seeks nominations from the leading scholars in security studies, and, after reviewing their applications, selects the most suitable candidates.  The decision is based primarily on the qualifications of the candidates, but an effort is made to ensure that they are drawn from a cross-section of the different disciplines.

At the conference the participants are invited to present their research. They give what might amount to an “off-Broadway” preview of their job talk. After each presentation, a faculty member, followed by a graduate student, offers focused comments. Typically, the faculty member is in the same discipline as the speaker, and the graduate student is doing work in a different discipline. The participant then engages in an extended question and answer session with the TISS audience, an eclectic group of graduate students, faculty, and former government officials now living in the Triangle. The students are invited, if they wish, to revise their talks and submit them as papers to the editors of American Diplomacy, an electronic journal sponsored by TISS.

The program has proven to be both an enjoyable and a useful event. It has helped outstanding students get critical exposure for their research at the point where they need it most, i.e., as they head out on the job market. It has also encouraged them to learn to make their ideas accessible to an eclectic audience. Many graduate students from Duke, North Carolina State University, and UNC-Chapel Hill who either serve as discussants or just come to attend the event, have also spoken warmly of their experiences.  It has given them a chance to meet students with similar interests to their own, attend a stimulating conference at no expense to themselves, and find out what works and does not work in a public presentation.

We are particularly gratified that a number of New Faces have continued to keep in touch with us.  Several have found jobs in our area (at Duke and at Wake Forest University) and have become remained active players in our organization. We hope that the program will continue to enjoy the same vitality in future years as it does today.