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JD/PhD Scholar Jenn Dye ’09 Combines Research and the Law

Recent law school graduate Jenn Dye ’09 has spent most of her life in Cincinnati and its surrounding communities. A JD/PhD student at the university, she has been a student at UC for five years, working toward an advanced degree in political science. Not one to rest on her laurels, she completed a master’s degree in political science during this time as well.

Dye came to law school after completing her undergraduate studies at Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio. A private liberal arts school, Wilmington College is among the few Quaker-affiliated colleges in the United States. Some might think that the religious affiliation of the college would translate into attempts at indoctrination or even required religious-based coursework. Not so, Dye explained. Rather, the religious influence was present in the school’s emphasis on the equality of all people present on its campus. “For example,” she explained, “students referred to professors by their first names in class. In that way, it wasn’t a way of saying, ‘Okay, Professor, teach me what you know,’ but instead emphasizing that all of us are on a path to learning, and that though the professors may be farther along that path than we may be, they can learn from the students as well.”

After wrapping up her studies at Wilmington, Dye returned to Cincinnati. “I came to UC specifically because of the joint degree program,” she says. “This university was one of few in the country offering a joint JD/PhD program at the time; and the next-closest geographically would have been Duke University.” Dye, however, has never had any intention of practicing law, or even taking a bar exam. “I saw the JD as a supplement to my PhD, not the other way around,” Dye said. “This allowed me the opportunities to take coursework that was relevant to my PhD work, rather having the pressure to take ‘bar’ classes.”

Dye’s doctoral work is primarily in securities studies, focusing on human security, conflict onset and causes, and specifically, how concepts of ethnicity, identity, and other types of differences between individuals and groups contribute to conflicts. Her research to date has focused on identity in the United States, particularly with regard to the ways in which certain individuals identify or are identified as being “American” or “not American.”

During her time at the College of Law, Dye worked closely with the professors who are launching the school’s new Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice. She became involved with the center launch when she began working on the Center’s web pages as part of a project for Professor Kristen Kalsem’s Feminist Jurisprudence course. She has remained involved ever since, collaborating with the professors to continue to improve the website as the launch draws near. She also assisted with planning for the event, working with the law school’s communications staff and the university’s event planning team. Although her work with the Center is not directly-related to her doctoral work, Dye has continued her work on the project because the topics the Center addresses, particularly those of identity, relate very closely to her graduate work.

Dye completed her coursework at the law school in the winter of 2009, allowing her to graduate with the class of 2009. She has about two years remaining on her doctoral studies. After completing them Dye hopes to work for a governmental agency for the United States or for an international organization, putting to use the skills, knowledge, and cultural awareness she has honed.