|Junior Will Apply Truman Scholarship Toward Worldwide Efforts to Regulate Small Arms
April 19, 2011
Contact: Bill Giduz
| Allie Francis '12
Allie Francis '12 is concerned about weapons big and small. At the beginning of her sophomore year at Davidson she created a chapter of Global Zero, an organization striving to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Now she has received a fellowship from the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation for her proposal to regulate the world-wide trade of small arms and light weapons.
Francis is one of about 60 students who received Truman Scholarships this year. The awards memorialize America's 33rd president, who believed in the importance of promoting young leaders. Award winners, who are selected during their junior year of college, must demonstrate exceptional leadership potential and a commitment to a career in public service. The Foundation awarded its first scholarships in the 1977-78 academic year, and currently provides winners with up to $30,000 for two or three years of graduate study. Francis and other winners will gather for five days in mid-May to receive their awards and share plans and policy proposals.
The scholarship also requires that winners engage in three years of public service following graduate school. Francis hopes to spend that time in the U.S. Foreign Service.
The Truman Scholarship process required applicants to write an essay about a social problem, and Francis based hers on the thesis she is writing for her political science major. It concerns the detrimental effects of small arms trade in areas recovering from conflict, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. Francis contends they destabilize areas trying to recover, contribute to human rights abuses and prevent democratization. Her thesis and proposal urge passage of a small arms treaty now under consideration at the United Nations. The treaty would require member nations to file reports on arms sales, and prevent arms sale to nations where human rights are being violated.
Francis has an impressive record of involvement with arms regulation and international activities. As a high school senior in Montpelier, Vt., she attended a UN Day of Peace that included a live link-up between American students and students in Congo and Sudan. Francis recalled, "One student we heard from said, ‘I don't understand why your government sells arms to my government when every day I see my peers dying because of it.'"
That prompted Francis and some of her high school friends to create a student-led class focused on small arms and child soldiering. Francis next became active in the Vermont Peace Institute, and made the connection with Global Zero.
She recently attended a Global Zero student convention in Washington, D.C., where she was one of ten students selected to meet with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Global Zero is focusing now on its next steps after passage by the Congress of the new Start Treaty in December.
She also spent six months in the Middle East during 2010, primarily in Syria and Egypt, studying the Arabic language. In Egypt she helped organize an International Day of Peace event at the library in Alexandria.
In June Francis is traveling to Kenya with Professor of Political Science Ken Menkhaus to attend Rift Valley Institute's week-long "Horn of Africa" course.
Francis credits her close associations with faculty members for the opportunities she has enjoyed at Davidson. Professor Menkhaus is her political science adviser, and Professor of Political Science Peter Ahrensdorf helped her hone her Truman Scholarship application. Francis said, "When I first visited Davidson I got the feeling it was a place where I could grow and expand my horizons. The community has been supportive of all my efforts, and I'm thankful for being a part of it."
Her association with Professor of German Scott Denham, chair of the graduate fellowship committee, is leading her to an exploration of her thesis subject that seems at first counterintuitive. Denham suggested to Francis that some first-hand experience with firearms might contribute something to her thesis research. Though she's never held a gun before, Francis plans to accept his offer to accompany him to a firing range for a shooting session. "The idea strikes me as useful," she said. "If I'm going to fully explore the subject, I think it's important to understand weapons from every level possible."
Francis acknowledges that the world will always be plagued with illegal arms, but she believes she can help. "Belief in making a difference is very important," she said. "Actions we take as public servants to make the world a better place will help some people, somewhere."
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,900 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.