Summer in Washington (Round II)

This summer, I had the privilege of interning at the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This was quite simply the perfect job for me – I got to work on early warning forecasting, write case studies about U.S. atrocity prevention policy, and learn how to confront genocide through research and policy.

I ended up publishing a piece in Just Security on questions in U.S. presidential debates about how to respond to mass atrocities, with some advice for the 2020 candidates. I am so grateful for the support of my team at the Simon-Skjodt Center. Never stop asking why!

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

In July, I attended the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) conference in Cambodia. Not only did I have the chance to enter conversations about contemporary issues in genocide studies, but also to work with outstanding student volunteers at the American University of Phnom Penh to help run the conference. Read more about my experience on USHMM’s Preventing Genocide Blog.

Me and my mentor, Dr. Hollie Nyseth Brehm, at IAGS 2019

With the support of a Migration, Mobility, and Immobility (MMI) Project grant from the Global Arts and Humanities Discovery Theme, I undertook a photography project in Phnom Penh. I focused on two sites – the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek – seeking to better understand the memorialization of Khmer Rouge atrocities.

The memorial stupa at the Killing Fields. Photo Credit: Jamie Wise

Upon reflection, it has been my experience that studying genocide means continually facing the worst of humanity, while ceaselessly believing there’s reason to hope. But I think Anne Frank put it best:

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Three Years Later…

Just some memories and reflections from my junior year at Ohio State.

Studying Abroad in Jordan – My first semester was spent studying abroad in Amman, Jordan. Through the CIEE Middle East Studies program and the care of my host family, I learned about Jordanian history and culture – developing a love of shawarma and hummus along the way. I took the bus every day down Shaaria al-Jamiah to my internship at the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) at the University of Jordan, where I learned about Jordanian politics and economic development. I hiked through Petra, snorkeled in the port of Aqaba, picked olives in Ajloun, and floated in the Dead Sea. All said, my Arabic and haggling skills have improved drastically. Studying abroad was an incredibly challenging and enriching experience!

Wadi Rum Desert

My Jordanian Host Family

Researching Justice After Violence – I continued to develop my skills as a researcher and pursue new, fascinating inquiries on transitional justice after atrocity. I began work on my thesis research project, conducting interviews with Syrians in Jordan about their perceptions of justice after conflict. These conversations were so humbling and insightful, and I am immensely grateful for others willing to share their experiences. This summer, I will be embarking on a photo-essay project in Cambodia, focusing on the memorialization of genocide. Studying violence can be difficult at times, but I have heard incredible testimonies of resilience and hope.

Spring Undergraduate Research Festival (With my Adviser, Dr. Brehm)

Mentoring for Refuge – This year, my mentee of 2.5 years graduated from high school and from Refuge – a mentorship program aimed at making higher education an attainable goal for refugee and immigrant students. I have been so proud to work with my mentee and see her tackle every challenge on her road to college. Next year, I will be shifting to a position on the Refuge Executive Board as Operations Chair, and I can’t wait to see how this organization will grow in the next year.

Serving with the Newman Catholic Center – The Buckeye Catholic community has been a constant source of spiritual growth and fellowship in my college career. During spring semester, I had the privilege of serving on the leadership team for Buckeye Awakening #20 – a weekend-long retreat for students to encounter Christ. Next year, I am delighted to resume my role as Bible Study leader. I am rooted in His goodness!

Buckeye Awakening #20 Leadership Team

This summer, I will be heading back to Washington DC, while detouring to Germany to present my research. None of this would have been possible without Ohio State’s investment in me and the unending support of my family, friends and professors – so THANK YOU!

Stamps Scholars National Convention 2019

Our cohort of Ohio State Stamps Scholars attended SSNC19 in Atlanta, Georgia – a three-day conference for scholars from across the country to meet and discuss pressing social issues. In my break-out session focused on social justice and non-violence, I visited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood home and the old Ebenezer Baptist Church. I am pictured below with fellow Stamps Scholars and E. Roe Stamps IV, founder of the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation.

Summer in Washington

This summer, I interned with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a nonprofit, bipartisan think tank in Washington D.C., focusing on foreign affairs. Under the mentorship of Alice Hunt Friend, a Senior Fellow in the International Security Program, I explored security issues in Africa and the Middle East, with an emphasis on U.S. counterterrorism and security assistance policy.

With Ms. Friend, I published my first commentary in Just Security, which looks at the intersection of transitional justice and countering violent extremism and argues for more serious consideration of human rights in security policy. Most recently, Ms. Friend and I authored a report on The Evolution of U.S. Defense Posture in North and West Africa, which reflects on the largely crisis-driven approach Washington has taken to address threats on the continent.

In addition to learning about the dynamic policy world, I had the chance to explore our nation’s capitol (See below).

The U.S. Capitol Building

President Lincoln’s Cottage

The Halfway Point

As my sophomore year at Ohio State draws to a close, I’d like to take some time to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned this past year.

Being a “Nerd” is Code for Having Found Your Passion—This year, I picked up a second major in Sociology, so I can continue to study issues of war and conflict from a perspective that considers how we make decisions as individuals and as a society. My classes this year have immersed me in the literature on international conflict resolution and provided me with practical skills for pursuing a career in sustainable peace. Highlights include Strategies of War and Peace, Peacekeeping and Collective Security, and Rebuilding Weak and Failed States. Top reading suggestion: The Justice Cascade by Kathryn Sikkink.

Usually Asking Questions Leads to More Questions—I started undergraduate research last year, as an assistant for Dr. Hollie Nyseth Brehm, a leading scholar in the field of genocide and mass violence. The experience inspired my own questions about how transitional justice works in post-conflict societies. I traveled to Rwanda in June 2017 to interview genocide survivors about the Gacaca courts and presented my preliminary findings at the 2018 Denman Forum. Looking forward, I’ve written my thesis research proposal, which addresses other factors influencing individuals’ perceptions of transitional justice processes in the Syrian case.

We Have a Powerful Voice—Raising awareness about the issues in our community, our country, and our world is the first step to bringing social change. As a Virtual Intern for the U.S. Department of State, I have been able to research human rights violations in South Sudan and tell the stories of survivors. Our Eminence Fellows cohort spent the year developing Enlighten, an organization dedicated to creating a culture of compassion for survivors of human trafficking in Columbus. This was my second year as a mentor for Refuge, which seeks to empower refugee and immigrant high schoolers to pursue higher education through mentorship. Our voices are impactful, and they are needed.

I would be nowhere without the support of my family, friends, professors, advisors and classmates—I truly stand on the shoulders of giants. As I head off to spend the summer interning in Washington D.C. followed by a semester abroad in Amman, Jordan, I say a bittersweet goodbye to Columbus until January 2019.

Original Inquiry: Denman Research Forum

At the 2018 Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, I presented the preliminary results for my study on Religiosity and Transitional Justice in Rwanda, called “The Devil in Rwanda.” I analyzed how the “Devil” was described in religious individuals’ narratives about the cause of the violence during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. I found that such narratives can shape the ways individuals attribute blame in post-conflict environments, with potential implications for perceptions of justice after mass violence.

I am currently authoring a paper on these findings and more with my adviser, Dr. Hollie Nyseth Brehm, from the Department of Sociology. Overall, my research looks to better understand how culturally-specific factors—like religion—can be integrated into the design of transitional justice mechanisms after genocide.

About Me

“Until we put honor and duty first, and are willing to risk something in order to achieve righteousness both for ourselves and for others, we shall accomplish nothing.”

-Former President Theodore Roosevelt

My name is Jamie Wise, and I am a senior Eminence Fellow and Stamps Scholar at the Ohio State University. I hail from Wentzville, Missouri—a city about an hour west of St. Louis. Previously, I was a student at the Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing in Maryville, Missouri, where I graduated in 2016 with my Associate’s Degree in Math and Science and my high school diploma. My passion is for international affairs, particularly studying global conflict, humanitarian crises, and peacemaking. I am pursuing a double major in International Studies and Sociology, with a minor in Arabic.

Last fall, I studied abroad in Amman, Jordan, where I interned with a think-tank at the University of Jordan. As a sophomore, I served as a Virtual Intern for the U.S. Embassy in South Sudan and as a Research Intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). At Ohio State, I am also involved in Refuge, a student organization that empowers refugees and immigrants to pursue higher education, and Enlighten, a service project focused on human trafficking awareness and advocacy in the Columbus community.

My research addresses genocide, human rights, and post-conflict justice. In 2017, I traveled to Rwanda to conduct field interviews, and I am currently authoring an academic paper on how culturally-specific factors can be integrated into transitional justice mechanisms to improve their capacity to foster peace and security. As a Research Assistant for Dr. Hollie Nyseth Brehm, Assistant Professor of Sociology, I have also analyzed the triggers of violence against civilians by non-state actors in a variety of African case studies. I recently began work on my thesis research project, which focuses on potential post-conflict outcomes for the Syrian Civil War. At Ohio State, my goal is to take every opportunity I can to prepare myself for a career in public service.

The Land of A Thousand Hills

During the summer of 2017, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Rwanda–a small country in East Africa. For three weeks, I studied the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi, researched restorative justice, and learned what it means to be Rwandan. Our class published a blog of our experiences, check it out here.

Eminence Freshman Retreat


The Eminence Fellows class of 2020, following our three day freshman retreat at the Harvest Moon lodge in Hocking Hills, OH. I had such a great time getting to know all of these talented, funny and inspiring people, and I can’t wait to see what we’re going to accomplish together these next four years.