Dakota Storm Peterson to Study Grassroots Vehicles for Change With Fulbright Award
October 10, 2019
A 2018 graduate of Drexel University’s political science program is the recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Dakota Storm Peterson recently embarked on his grant to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he will conduct research at the University of Sarajevo and within Mreža za izgradnju mira (“the Peacebuilding Network”), a nongovernmental organization.
His project, “The Rise of Local Ownership: Empowering Grassroots Vehicles for Change,” aims to understand how international funding is translated into locally driven peace-building programs through grassroots, nongovernmental organizations.
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international education exchange program, designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Peterson was one of over 800 U.S. citizens selected on the basis of academic and personal achieves, record of service and demonstrated leadership in their fields.
While at Drexel, Peterson conducted research on marginalized European communities under the mentorship of Zoltán Búzás, PhD, assistant professor of politics. He was also captain of the varsity soccer team and involved in activism and local politics.
“Academically, I was interested in foreign affairs, and this led to an interest in peace-building efforts in the wake of the U.S.’s intervention in the Balkans,” he says.
His decision to apply for the Fulbright was rooted in his “desire for a life abroad — an intuitive desire to understand a people, a culture, and a societal framework outside of the Western, capitalist-driven upbringing that was sown throughout the textbooks and teachings I was raised on.”
Peterson says that his project aims to utilize his academic experiences to embrace this collective vision.
“Based in local, grassroots organizations in Bosnia, my project aims to better understand how Bosnians are taking international funding and developing coherent, effective peace-building and reconciliation programs in a post-war society. The essence of my research attempts to capture and promote the voice of the locals in assessing reconciliation projects in Bosnia.”
In addition to his research, Peterson will be acting as a U.S. cultural ambassador and documenting his experiences on his blog.
“I would like to use my platform and privilege as a Fulbrighter to conduct research and present ideas that shed a light on the people of Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he says.
After graduating from Drexel, Peterson attended the Sarajevo Symposium in Bosnia and Herzgovina, where he completed an internship at the Post Conflict Research Center and earned a post-graduate certificate in managing post-conflict transitions. He went on to work as a litigation paralegal in New York City.
Beyond his Fulbright project, he is most looking forward to returning to Bosnia for his favorite cultural delights, including traditional coffee and, of course, soccer.
“Being a soccer fan and player myself,” he says, “I look forward to returning to the football passion that paints the city of Sarajevo blue and maroon on the weekends.”
To learn more about the U.S. Fulbright Program, visit the Drexel Fellowships website.