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Conflict in the South China Seas

Wiegand-2Krista Wiegand, director of the Global Security Program at The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and associate professor of political science, spent five months as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in the Philippines during spring and summer 2017.

Wiegand was one of five UT faculty members awarded a Fulbright during the 2016–17 academic year. Only senior-level academics are awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholarship.

“My Fulbright experience was immensely rewarding, since I would never have been able to learn what I did from just reading books and articles from afar,”

said Wiegand. “There is nothing that can replace living in a country and conducting field research to gain in-depth understanding of their political issues.”

Wiegand was based in the Department of International Studies at De La Salle University in Manila, where she conducted research about the role of the Philippines in the contentious South China Sea dispute with China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. She spent most of her time interviewing government officials, former government officials, scholars, and experts about Philippine foreign policies related to the maritime dispute.


The purpose of Wiegand’s research was to explore the motivation of former president Benigno Aquino’s regime seeking international arbitration against China in 2013, the process of the arbitration from 2013 to 2016, and the consequences of the arbitration decision for the Philippines in its relations with China and the United States.

She also gave several talks at universities in Manila, at the University of Brunei Darussalam and the US Embassy in Brunei, and at the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), sponsored jointly by the Foreign Service Institute, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the National Defense College of the Philippines.

Wiegand-3At DFA, Wiegand spoke to a crowd of 100 diplomats and military officers, and met with former and current secretaries of national defense, former and current ambassadors, former and current members of Congress, and other esteemed officials.

While in Southeast Asia, she also attended the World International Studies Conference in Taiwan and presented papers at the Philippine Political Science Association annual meeting and the International Studies Association Asia meeting in Hong Kong.

Wiegand is currently working on three papers based on her research and is also using the material for part of a book project. She will talk about her time as a Fulbright Senior Scholar at a Baker Café this fall at the Baker Center. Look for updates on the Baker events page (

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