Alumni (National Fellow)

Shelley Hurt

National Fellow
Ph.D. The New School (2004)
Dream Mentor:
Ronnie Lipschutz
University of California, Santa Cruz
Fields of Interest:
American Political Development
Foreign Policy
Legal History
Science and Technology


Shelley L. Hurt is an associate professor of political science at CalPoly. She specializes in International Relations, Science & Technology Policy, and American Political Development. Hurt’s scholarship centers on U.S. foreign policy, intellectual property law and agricultural biotechnology. Her dissertation, “Science, Power, and the State: U.S. Foreign Policy, Intellectual Property Law, and the Origins of Agricultural Biotechnology, 1969-1994,” received “Honorable Mention” from the Virginia M. Walsh Award for Best Dissertation of the STEP organized section of the American Political Science Association in 2010. In addition, she won the 2007 Carl Beck Award from the International Studies Association for the best graduate student paper. She had the honor of presenting her research at a conference on détente at the U.S. Department of State. Hurt has received fellowship awards from the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College. She also spent two years in the Department of Political Science at Vassar College as a visiting instructor.

Thesis Description:

Institutionalizing Food Power: U.S. Foreign Policy, Intellectual Property Rights, and the Agricultural Biotechnology Industry, 1972-1994
Hurt’s dissertation investigated U.S. policymakers’ use of the market and law, domestically and internationally, to foster a favorable climate for the agricultural biotechnology industry. She hypothesized that this state strategy evolved in response to declining U.S. hegemony in the early 1970s when the pressure of international competition became a paramount concern for U.S. officials. Subsequently, food came to be seen as a fundamental national resource with the potential to propel the U.S. back into an undisputed hegemonic position. She argued that in response to this geopolitical pressure, U.S. policymakers and courts enacted a complex set of legal rules and regulations to create the conditions for this industry to flourish. The culmination of these domestic policies led to U.S. insistence on incorporating the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement into the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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