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Graeme Robertson, The Graduate School’s Harold J. Glass USAF Faculty Mentor/Graduate Fellow Distinguished Term Professor, is nearly two years into his three-year professorship—and he’s leading the next generation of graduate students to become experts in political protest and authoritarian regimes.

Grame, wearing glasses and a navy shirt. He has a beard.
Graeme Robertson

Robertson has researched dissent and protest within Russia and the Ukraine, which have been at war since 2014. He’s a professor in the Department of Political Science, part of the College of Arts & Sciences. Robertson is also the director of the Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies at Carolina. 

He said the Glass fellowship is modeled in a way that positions students and professors for success.  

“This particular fellowship is built on a model that provides critical financial support for mid-career faculty and their students, which allows them to participate in research and mentorship with colleagues at some of the best institutions in the world,” he said. 

Specifically, Robertson has used the support to conduct online surveys in Russia and the Ukraine to compare how people have reacted, within the context of their varying regimes, to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s examining how they consume news about and react to vaccination campaign efforts.  

“What the Glass professorship has enabled me to do is to be a part of a consortium of researchers,” he said. “We now have this massive set of data about reactions to COVID-19 across Eastern Europe.” Robertson said the data are going to be made publicly available for future use, and he has three publications forthcoming as a result of his research. 

Mentoring graduate students is part of what Robertson enjoys about the fellowship—a graduate student, for instance, was able to conduct fieldwork in Ukraine. 

“None of that would be possible if she had to stay here in Chapel Hill,” Robertson said. “It dignifies the work that they’re doing. … It creates this moment of recognition.” 

Harold E. and Holly Glass provided a gift to establish the 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. 

Robertson has also served The Graduate School as a member of its administrative board. 

“The Graduate School is what makes UNC-Chapel Hill a fun place to work,” he said. “It has been a really meaningful part of my career.” 

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