CLAS political science professor receives two distinguished awards

Professor Sara McLaughlin Mitchell was recently recognized with academic awards from the International Studies Association and the American Political Science Association.
Monday, November 20, 2023

By Charlotte Brookins 

Sara Mitchell, a professor in the Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, recently received two awards for outstanding research, teaching, and scholarship in her field. Mitchell has been a professor and collegiate fellow in the political science department since 2011.  

Last spring, she received the Distinguished Scholar Award, which is given by the Foreign Policy Analysis section of the International Studies Association (ISA). The award is presented annually to honor extraordinary work in the analysis of foreign policy.  

She also earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Conflict Processes section of the American Political Science Association (APSA), which is presented every other year. Mitchell received the award in the fall of this year. 

“The awards are meant to recognize a demonstration of outstanding mentorship, noteworthy service, and a significant body of exceptional research,” explains Mitchell. “I felt extremely honored to receive them.” 

Sara Mitchell with both of her recent awards.

Mitchell’s research, which was commended by both of these awards, focuses primarily on the causes of conflicts, such as interstate and civil wars, while examining how international organizations can aid in the de-escalation of these disputes. 

“I study conflict using statistical analysis of data across all regions over the past 200 years,” Mitchell elaborates. “I have collected original data on diplomatic conflicts involving land, maritime, river, and identity issues in the Issue Correlates of War (ICOW) Project, which helps us better understand how the characteristics of contested issues influences the chances for war and peace.” 

Mitchell says she was drawn to her course of study as a result of her upbringing in north central Iowa. 

“Farming communities are keenly aware of events in world politics that can affect the price of crops, land, and equipment,” says Mitchell. “My parents were informed in politics and got me interested in it from a young age. My interests in democratic and international institutions were also fostered by many influential professors and mentors in my career.” Sara Mitchell

More recently, Mitchell’s research has shifted focus to how natural disasters and climate change influence the likelihood of violence within and among different countries. She also currently works with Elise Pizzi, an associate professor of political science, as well as many students in the Disasters, Migration, and Violence (DMV) Lab

The DMV lab is currently working on compiling a dataset of government responses to disasters in order to evaluate how government responses to disasters influence the relationships between catastrophes, migration, and political violence. 

“I am so grateful to all those who have helped me in my career,” says Mitchell. “I’m looking forward to the future of my career here.” 

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.