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Graeme Robertson
Graeme Robertson

Graeme Robertson, a UNC-Chapel Hill professor of political science whose research investigates dissent and protest within Russia and Ukraine, has been named The Graduate School’s Harold J. Glass USAF Faculty Mentor/Graduate Fellow Distinguished Term Professor.

Robertson is the author of Putin v. the People: The Perilous Politics of a Divided Russia (with co-author Samuel A. Greene) and The Politics of Protest in Hybrid Regimes: Managing Dissent in Post-Communist Russia. He is also the director of the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies, and regularly provides analysis on Russia and Ukraine within national and international publications.

Harold E. and Holly Glass provided a gift to establish the three-year Glass Distinguished Term Professorship and a corresponding fellowship for a graduate student the professor selects to mentor. The faculty member selected for the professorship receives a stipend and research fund for three years. The graduate student selected receives a competitive stipend, full tuition, fees and health insurance during the fellowship.

The Glasses named the professorship and fellowship in memory of Harold E. Glass’s father and his service in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. A UNC-Chapel Hill doctoral graduate in political science, Harold E. Glass is a member of The Graduate School’s Graduate Education Advancement Board.

“I am absolutely thrilled and honored to have been selected for the Glass Distinguished Professorship,” said Robertson, who joined the UNC-Chapel Hill faculty in 2004. “Graduate students are at the core of our research and teaching mission at UNC, and working with these brilliant emerging scholars has been one of the best and most meaningful experiences of my career.”

Suzanne Barbour, dean of The Graduate School, said Robertson has an exemplary record for graduate student mentoring, having shepherded more than 100 doctoral students during his service as director of graduate studies (2011-2018), advised 10 doctoral students, served on nearly two dozen dissertation committees and directed scores of master’s theses.

Sean Norton stands before Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia
Sean Norton

Robertson selected Sean Norton, a doctoral student in political science, as the 2020-21 fellowship recipient. “Sean’s research on protest and opposition in Russia is really the epitome of the best new research in political science, blending expertise in computational social science with deep knowledge of the country and its language,” Robertson said.

The fellowship will be offered to a different student for each of the three years of Robertson’s distinguished professorship.

Barbour said the professorship would allow Robertson to build on the important contributions he has made to the ongoing campus and national dialogue on best practices in faculty mentorship. “The Graduate School is grateful to Harold and Holly Glass for creating a professorship that encourages innovation and dissemination of best practices in the crucial faculty-graduate student relationship. Graeme is a leading scholar in his field, a generous mentor to graduate students and a most deserving recipient of this honor. I also congratulate Sean, who is creating valuable new knowledge in his field and will benefit greatly from this experience.”

Norton, who has advanced proficiency in both the Russian language and Python programming language, applies computational social science to investigate authoritarianism and contention in Russian politics. Specifically, he focuses on urban opposition movements, the connection between state decentralization and protest, and the role of alternative media readership and social media manipulation within authoritarian governments.

“I’m grateful to the Glass family and Dr. Robertson for providing this fellowship,” he said. “Their generosity gives me the time and resources I need to focus on the most difficult parts of my dissertation.”

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