2020 PFIG Recipient Shriya Dodwani
Journal Entry #1
I have the opportunity to intern within Hudson Institute’s South and Central Asia division this summer. As someone who is particularly interested in national security studies, Hudson is a great place to be as it houses some of the most renowned scholars in the sector. I am currently working under Dr. Aparna Pande and Ambassador Husain Haqqani on a variety of research projects relating to security strategy and foreign policy within South Asia. Although we cannot be in the office for now, we have been able to continue working on our projects and stay coordinated through Zoom. DC has just entered phase 2 of the reopening process so there is still some potential for the interns to be on-site later in the summer. I hope that this is something that is possible because Hudson prides itself on having a very close-knit and academically enriching intern experience. Since we cannot be meeting in person, the internship coordinator has made it a priority to translate as much of the typical experience to a virtual option as possible. Each week we have a seminar with one of Hudson’s scholars and get to know the personnel in a conversational setting. We also have intern led discussions scattered throughout the summer, the first of which I had the opportunity to lead this week. It is very clear that Hudson is devoted to promoting an academically rigorous experience and pushes its interns to take initiative within their own interests, as is seen through these intern led discussion seminars. There is a surprisingly wide range of ideological beliefs within the organization so asking questions and challenging one another’s perspectives are things that are widely encouraged. It’s evident that everyone who works here is held to a high standard which provides for a highly motivated cohort and a multitude of people to learn from. I can’t wait to see how the summer progresses!
Journal Entry #2
The past few weeks have been extremely busy! I just finished up a large research project to help Ambassador Haqqani write his next article. We’ve focused on studying Iran’s eastward expansion into Central and South Asia (Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Malaysia, etc.) as that is a topic that has, surprisingly, not been studied in depth before. Particularly, Ambassador Haqqani was interested in analyzing the covert ways in which Iran has moved into its neighboring countries and started asserting its influence. My leg of the research consisted of evaluating Iran-Pakistan relations and studying the motions Iran has made to ensure its presence within the country. My family is Pakistani so I have kept up with Pakistani news growing up but I had never studied this particular relationship in such depth. Given the interrogative and developing nature of this project, I have had a unique opportunity to learn how to sift through online content and find current events, social media posts, notes from political meetings, and policy changes that might show traces of underlying Iranian motivation. The project has been very engaging and the research has honestly felt like a treasure hunt; it’s a nice change of pace from research that focuses on historical analysis and I am excited to see what I am staffed on next!
Journal Entry #3
As the summer comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the highs and lows of the past two months and analyze what they mean in the context of my career goals. My internship at Hudson Institute has been nothing short of spectacular; there are few lows to cite when you’ve been submerged in an environment that is undeniably dedicated to intellectual curiosity and thought. I’ve learned a great deal about foreign policy within the Middle East and South Asia, how to conduct research of high quality, and what it means to contribute to national security policy through a think tank.
Most importantly, however, I have come away with a more refined understanding of who I am, and who I want to be, as a citizen, scholar, and policymaker. I now feel more confident in saying that my professional interests lie in a field that combines policymaking with legal theory. Having had the opportunity to work under scholars of such high stature has taught me that achieving such a level of respect requires years of fieldwork experience. The research and work I have spent the summer doing has been extremely rewarding; I would love to return to the think tank scene and start a few research projects of my own after I have developed a name for myself in the world of national security. Overall, this summer has been filled with the highest of highs and I could not be more grateful for the experience I have had. Aside from the academic advancements made, I think the character development that has come from this summer marks a pivotal moment in my outlook on life.