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UW–Madison alumnus wins prestigious Marshall Scholarship for graduate study in UK

December 11, 2023 By Doug Erickson
Headshot of Nils Peterson

Nils Peterson

Nils Peterson, a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, has been named a 2024 Marshall scholar. The prestigious honor gives high-achieving young Americans the opportunity to study at the graduate level at any university in the United Kingdom.

Peterson will pursue a master’s degree in Taiwan studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies and a master’s degree in politics and contemporary history at King’s College London. He plans a career in national security or the government advisory sphere, guiding U.S. East Asian policy.

Fifty-one scholars were chosen for the 2024 cohort. The program was created to honor the ideals of the Marshall Plan and to foster appreciation of the UK among future American leaders.

Peterson, of Eagan, Minnesota, graduated from UW–Madison in May 2022, after three years of undergraduate study, with a bachelor’s degree in Chinese and history and honors in history. He currently works for the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, D.C., where he leads a team producing the China-Taiwan Weekly Update, an online open-source publication analyzing cross-Taiwan Strait developments.

While at UW–Madison, Peterson interned with the London-based Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and won 14 awards in recognition of his research and language study, including two Foreign Language Area Studies awards to study Chinese.

“I am confident that Nils will become an influential figure in foreign policy circles,” says UW–Madison history professor Joe Dennis. “I know of no one more deserving of ongoing support at the highest level.”

UW–Madison Provost Charles Isbell calls Peterson an exceptional scholar dedicated to public service.

“We are immensely proud of Nils and all that he has achieved,” Isbell says. “As a Marshall scholar, he will have the opportunity to further his already impressive scholarship and positively impact the course of U.S. foreign policy.”

On campus, Peterson was a leader in several organizations that provide a platform to explore and debate U.S. foreign policy. He was deputy-editor-in-chief of the undergraduate journal Wisconsin International Review and policy chair for the UW–Madison chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society, which won the Chapter of the Year Award in 2021.

Particularly meaningful to Peterson is his continued volunteer service with UW–Madison’s Missing in Action Recovery and Identification Project. The interdisciplinary team of academic experts and student volunteers conducts year-round research and annual field excavations to recover, identify and repatriate MIA U.S. service members.

Peterson says the Marshall Scholarship will provide an invaluable opportunity to spend time learning about one of America’s closest allies, the United Kingdom.

“I look forward to strengthening this special relationship throughout my time in the United Kingdom and my future career,” he says.

Studying at UW–Madison showed him the diversity of intellectual thought present in historical regions across the world, he says. “My time at UW gave me the critical foundation necessary for studying China and Taiwan. On, Wisconsin!”

Other recent Marshall scholars from UW–Madison include Lydia Nyachieo ‘22 and Claire Evensen ‘20. A complete list of scholars and finalists can be found on UW’s website.