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About Us

Hello and welcome to the SPSA about page!

The Schar PhD Student Association (SPSA) is a student-run organization for all Ph.D. students in the Schar School. It provides a platform for professional and intellectual support, student-led initiatives, and opportunities for greater student interaction and collaboration. We sponsor a variety of events to help students progress through the program such as the Ph.D. student research workshops, student-led panels on different stages of the program, and of course, happy hours.

Below you will find background and contact information for our organization’s leadership. If you would like to be involved in SPSA or have ideas for events that would help you in the program, please reach out to any one of us!

Executive Board 2020-2021

President: Scott Bledsoe |

Scott Bledsoe is a fourth year PhD student in political science working on a dissertation proposal exploring religious identity, religiosity, and behavioral polarization in the United States. Scott spent this past summer at the United States Institute of Peace as a research assistant for the “Closing the Gap” Project in partnership with USAID, which explored the role of religious freedom in global socioeconomic development. Before moving to the DC area, Scott was in New York City, where he earned an MA in comparative politics from New York University and worked in publishing at Oxford University Press. He is originally from Nashville, TN where he attended Lipscomb University.

Vice President: Iqbal Safi  |

Iqbal Safi is a Fulbright Scholar and incoming part-time PhD in Public Policy student at Schar School, currently, working for K2 Consulting, a Maryland-based construction projects management and controls consultancy. He completed a BS in Civil Engineering at the Kabul University and a MS in Engineering Management at the California State University, Northridge (CSUN). After graduating from the Kabul University in 2011, he started working in the private sector and government departments in Afghanistan and Middle East, and has acquired 10 years of experience in planning and managing commercial and Federal Government projects. Iqbal is interested in improving processes and systems within the construction industry, seeking solutions through interdisciplinary studies that address problems in the interface of science, economics, and politics.

Treasurer: Christine German |

Christine German is currently a PhD student in political science at George Mason University, studying ideological extremism, terrorism, gender and human rights, and the Middle East and North Africa. Her research seeks to examine how extremists use gender and social norms to construct and perpetuate their ideology. Christine has worked in international development since 2007, focused on women’s and youth engagement projects throughout the MENA region and has worked as an independent consultant since 2016; she has lived in, worked in, and written about the MENA region since 1998.

Secretary: Caroline Wesson |

Caroline Wesson is a third year PhD student studying Political Science at George Mason University where she is a President’s Scholar and a graduate research assistant. She also holds a bachelor’s and master’s in International Affairs from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Caroline is currently working on research related to the intersection of culture, technology, and economic development. Caroline was a research intern with Center of Strategic and International Studies in 2019 and worked on their ChinaPower Project where she contributed to pieces on Chinese innovation, web connectedness, and the WTO. She also worked as a RAND Summer Associate for Summer 2020 working on issues related to science and technology policy. Currently Caroline serves as the Managing Editor for the Arts and International Affairs journal. In her free time Caroline enjoys practicing her French and Korean language skills and learning about pop culture around the world.