Amherst College ’08 Graduate Conor Clarke Receives Prestigious Marshall Scholarship

December 9, 2008                    

AMHERST, Mass. – Conor Clarke, a Yonkers, N.Y. native and 2008 graduate of Amherst College, has been named a 2009 Marshall Scholar. Clarke is one of just 40 students and recent graduates in the country to receive the prestigious award, which will subsidize all of his expenses for two years of graduate study in the United Kingdom.
 
A double major in English and interdisciplinary studies (political science and LJST) at Amherst and a prolific writer, Clarke plans to pursue a master’s degree in international journalism at Cardiff University during the first year of his scholarship and then another master’s in economic policy at the University of Birmingham during his second. Such a course of study abroad, he said, will better prepare him for the career he is currently pursuing in journalism. “Like carpentry, journalism is a trade—and yet it’s a trade defined as much by geographically divergent assumptions as by the commonly shared ability to string together sentences,” he wrote in his application for the scholarship. “I believe that taking a hard look at those assumptions would make me a better journalist.”

“Conor is already, in many ways, a poised and productive journalist and a cosmopolitan citizen of the world,” noted Christian Rogowski, professor of German at Amherst and chair of the faculty committee on student fellowships. “Not simply a student or observer, he does not write ‘about’ a place—whether Cuba or central Africa —without going there and learning what he can first-hand. … This continuous exchange of reading and classroom learning, which leads to actions that stimulate further learning, marks Conor’s life so far and bids fare to be his mode of operation into the future.”

Clarke presently serves as a fellow at The Atlantic Monthly in Washington, D.C., where he writes and edits for the magazine’s website. He recently finished co-editing—with Time columnist Michael Kinsley—a book about corporate social responsibility and global development that will be published in December. He also continues to contribute to The New Republic and The Guardian; he put his undergraduate studies on hold to work for these two publications during the 2006-2007 academic year. His reporting and writing at that time touched on gun control, tax policy, refugee camps in eastern Chad and how the economic embargo is jeopardizing the restoration of Ernest Hemingway’s longtime home in Cuba, among other topics.

“Conor is a superb choice for a Marshall,” said Lawrence Douglas, James J. Grosfeld Professor of law, jurisprudence, and social thought at Amherst. “He has done a rare thing: He excelled as a student while also compiling an extremely impressive record of publication in journals such as The New Republic and The Guardian.  He’ll do the college proud.”

In addition to The New Republic and The Guardian, Clarke—who graduated summa cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at the beginning of his senior year—has also contributed to The American Prospect and The Washington Monthly and written pieces for the Center for American Progress’s daily newsletter and blog. At Amherst, he served as the editor in chief of The Indicator, the college’s biweekly journal of social and political thought; helped restart and edit The Meredith, a semesterly journal of literary humor; and wrote his thesis on the relationship between American constitutional democracy and international law. He was honored by his alma mater with several awards that funded his work in journalism and research, including the political science department’s Latham Fellowship, the Hotchkiss/Patrick Fellowship for journalism, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship and the Wilcox Fellowship. A Yonkers, N.Y., native and graduate of Regis High School in New York, N.Y., he is the son of Joseph and Dorothy Clarke.

Clarke is the fourth Amherst College student to receive a Marshall Scholarship in the past six years. The most recent recipients were Samuel Charap ’02 and Carolyn Snyder ’03, both in 2003.

Marshall Scholarships finance young Americans of high ability to study for a degree in the U.K. Up to 40 scholars are selected each year to study at graduate level at a U.K. institution in any field of study. Recipients are chosen based on significant intellectual distinction, academic record, leadership potential, strong motivation and seriousness of purpose.
 
Founded in 1821, Amherst is a highly selective, coeducational liberal arts college with approximately 1,600 students from most of the 50 states and more than 30 other countries. Consistently ranked among the nation's best educational institutions, Amherst awards the B. A. degree in 34 fields of study.

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