Alumni (National Fellow)

Jonathan Renshon

National Fellow
Ph.D. Harvard University (2011)
Professional Sector:
Dream Mentor:
William Wohlforth
Dartmouth College
Fields of Interest:
Foreign Policy
International Relations


Jonathan Renshon is the Trice Faculty Scholar and assistant professor of political science at the University of Wisconson, Madison. Professor Renshon recently completed his Ph.D. (2012) in the Department of Government at Harvard University. His research interests are in the psychology of judgment and decision-making in foreign policy, and more broadly, in international security and experimental methods. Professor Renshon’s work has appeared in Political Psychology, Foreign Policy and Journal of Conflict Resolution.

Thesis Description:

Fighting for Status: Prestige Motivations and Conflict in World Politics
Renshon’s dissertation, “Fighting for Status: Prestige Motivations and Conflict in World Politics” investigates how the concern for status and prestige affects states’ decisions in the domain of international security. There is widespread agreement, both within the political science discipline and the foreign policy community, that status matters, though very little in the way of focused research on how and when it does so. This has left us with two significant gaps in our understanding of how status affects national security and foreign policy behavior. Firstly, and most importantly, our understanding of status in international politics has been guided thus far by intuition, not by evidence. Furthermore, relying on the assumption that “status matters” has left us with no extant theory of variation in states’ concern for status or understanding of its specific implications for foreign policy or international conflict. What is needed - and what his research is designed to provide - is an investigation into the systematic ways in which the desire to increase or prevent the loss of status affects the behavior of states, especially as these concerns relate to the propensity for violent conflict.

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