Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Kelly Stedem, Visiting Assistant Professor in Public Affairs

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Dr. Kelly Stedem has been teaching at Roanoke College as a visiting assistant professor in Public Affairs since the Fall of 2021. Unfortunately, she will be leaving this semester to teach at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Before arriving at Roanoke, she received her Ph.D. from Brandeis University. Then, she spent the 2020-2021 academic year at Harvard University’s Middle East Initiative where she focused on developing her own research.

Dr. Stedem does not have a favorite class since she has enjoyed different aspects of every class she teaches. For example, the Public Affairs Research Methods course is her most challenging course. The material is difficult and often involves teaching students an entirely new way of thinking. She spends plenty of time considering what topics students find difficult in that class, why they struggle with them, and how to make it easier and more intuitive.


Dr. Stedem is currently working on a paper about in-group policing in Lebanon. She said that her research “investigates the drawbacks for groups when they actively engage in policing their own members. They might forgo their responsibility to police even if it could risk an outbreak of violence.” Much of Dr. Stedem’s research interests originate from observations and insights gained from her work with non-governmental organizations in Lebanon from 2011-2014. She enjoys talking about her research during lectures. This helps her to give “concrete, real-world examples for concepts, theories, or methodological practices” during class. Dr. Stedem will be starting as an Assistant Professor in Political Science at Bucknell University next year.

A little about Dr. Stedem…

At RC since: Fall, 2021
Field within Public Affairs:She’s a political scientist, with a regional focus on the Middle East. She teaches International Relations, but in her own research, she focuses on the two sub-disciplines of Comparative Politics and International Relations.
Aspects of your experience at RC that surprised you:She’s been surprised by the campus community. It seems like the campus is very close-knit and there’s active engagement across departments.
Favorite aspect of your profession:“The students! I love to help students learn new concepts and develop new skills. I also just like getting to know students—their interests, their hopes, and their plans for the future. I’m always hoping that I will be able to help advise or direct them towards a new intellectual passion that will maybe open up future doors that they had never considered.”
Advice for RC students:“I was told by one of my graduate mentors that ‘you can have everything, but not necessarily all at once.’ College is a time where there’s a lot of pressure to perform in classes, join various clubs, engage in campus life, and plan for something as big and overwhelming as your career and future. Sometimes, it’s not wise to say yes to everything and that’s okay!”

Mihdi Agbaw, Contributing Writer
Edited by Andreea Mihalache-O’Keef