The Scoville Effect: Thirty years of launching careers in international peace and security


With the next generation of experts in international peace and security on the horizon, the Scoville Fellowship looks to tap into their potential

A butterfly flaps its wings and creates ripples in the air that crescendo into a hurricane.

This image is a popular metaphor for how a seemingly small change can lead to incredible outcomes: the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship  is a powerful demonstration of this idea in action. As this video makes clear, just six to nine months at the beginning of a young professional’s life can have a profound and lasting “Scoville effect” that benefits both the fellow and the field. In 2017, the Scoville Fellowship will be celebrating its 30th year of empowering the creativity, passion, and service of a new generation of experts in international peace and security.

The fellowship, founded in 1987 in honor of Herbert (Pete) Scoville, Jr., reflects the model that Scoville exemplified throughout his life. His daughter, Molly Scoville Fitzmaurice, who currently serves as a member of the board, remembers her father’s approach well:

In his goal to draw attention to peace as the critical issue during the Cold War era, my father felt that it was essential to reach out to college campuses and turn its activists into the next generation of experts in Washington. No student organization or crowd was too small or too distant to deliver his message of the need to curb strategic weapons. The passion of local pacifists and students encouraged him, and his expertise as a government scientist-turned-arms control activist gave them faith that they would be heard in Washington.

One example was Thomas Halsted, who started out as my father's assistant at the CIA. He recounted how my father literally brought him to the table during intelligence briefings for the top brass at the agency. At one meeting when the young Halsted went to take his place in a chair at the perimeter of the room, my father protested, "Mr. Halsted, won't you sit at the table with us? We'd like to get your input, too."

This philosophy of engagement is the bedrock of the program’s value and success. Today, fellows’ voices are heard as they work on a wide range of peace and security topics. Some of the closest witnesses of the Scoville Fellowship’s impressive 30-year track record are the senior level supervisors at host organizations—one of whom is Toby Dalton, codirector of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Dalton has seen firsthand how “Scoville fellows work side-by-side with established experts in the field, gaining insights into how to be effective policy entrepreneurs in Washington while also contributing to the important goals of Scoville host organizations.” Bringing freshness and diversity to the field while providing financial support to the fellows, the fellowship is “one of the preeminent training programs for the next generation of national and international security experts.”

The impact of the program is embodied in the caliber and achievements of its growing pool of alumni, 165 to date, who have gone on to build careers in government, academia, and think tanks. The video captures a few of these remarkable individuals, but it could not possibly do justice to each impressive former fellow. Just one example is Wardah Khalid, who was a Spring 2015 Fellow at the Friends Committee on National Legislation Education Fund. She did numerous media interviews during and after her fellowship, had the chance to meet President Obama in person in June 2015, and was accepted as a Presidential Management Fellow.

Looking back at the Scoville Fellowship, Khalid says it “greatly exceeded my expectations,” and the experience was “literally a dream come true for me personally and professionally. The fellowship gave me the confidence, real world policy experience, and connections to help me become a respected professional in the field of international peace and security. I am so grateful to have participated in the program and know it was the perfect first step for me to enter the D.C. policy world.”

Carnegie Corporation of New York has supported the Scoville Fellowship since 2009, and the stories of Wardah Khalid, the fellows in the video, and other alumni of the program are continuing proof that the “Scoville effect” is real and very exciting. Most importantly, their stories demonstrate that meaningful investment in the next generation of leaders truly enables them to deal with challenges to peace and security that are often as daunting as hurricanes.

Interested in applying for the Spring 2017 fellowship? You can find more information here.