Kelsey Landau

Mentor: Dr. Louise Newman
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
 
"To me, the most interesting parts of history concern the formation of historical knowledge and historical narratives--essentially, how societies determine the truth of their pasts. Conducting historical research can explain the present through the lens of the past as nothing else can, as it uncovers historical events and, potentially, upends commonly-held viewpoints. As such, I believe that research experience will help me better understand how history is created."

Major

Political Science and History

Minor

French and Francophone Studies; Certificate in International Relations

Research Interests

  • International Organizations
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • Global Development

Academic Awards

  • UF Honors Program 2014
  • Political Science Junior Fellow 2015
  • Anderson Scholar High Distinction 2016
  • University Scholars Program 2016

Organizations

  • UF College Democrats
  • UF International Review
  • Samuel Proctor Oral History Program

Volunteer

  • Joseph P. Williams Elementary School
  • Sunflower Creative Arts

Hobbies and Interests

  • International Affairs
  • Politics
  • Reading
  • Traveling

Research Description

“The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love”: The Peace Corps, Global Citizenry, and United States Foreign Policy, 1960-1992
My research will examine the history and evolution of the Peace Corps through three dimensions: public perceptions of the agency, internal operations of the agency, and the Volunteers’ experiences with the agency. For the first dimension, I seek to understand why the Peace Corps resonated with the American public in the way it did, and how Americans’ perceptions of the agency changed with the foreign policies of Kennedy and Johnson through the end of the Cold War and the Republican administrations of Reagan and Bush. For the second dimension, I intend to explore whether the agency had different goals or methods of operating under later Republican administrations, or whether the development of an entrenched institutional culture may have insulated the Peace Corps from domestic politics; in other words, whether the Peace Corps took its lead from U.S. national foreign policy concerns, humanitarian interests driven by United Nations mandates, other factors entirely, or indeed some combination of the above. Finally, by examining the experiences and narratives of the Volunteers themselves, I hope to identify their objectives in joining the agency, how these objectives did and did not align with official recruiting literature, and whether the Volunteers felt that these objectives were met during the course of their service. By studying these three elements together, my research will examine the evolution of the Peace Corps over time, focusing on its place at the intersection of American foreign policy, humanitarianism, and the broader American culture, and thus situate this unique government agency and its objectives into the larger contexts of the international system and American life.