Deborah Cohen, the Richard W. Leopold Professor of History in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, has been named the interim executive director of the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, effective Jan. 1. She will replace Annelise Riles, who is stepping down after five years in the role.
Northwestern Buffett brings together the brightest minds from Northwestern and around the world to address complex global challenges, creating opportunities for dialogue across academic disciplines and fostering connections between researchers and experts from government, industry, nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations worldwide.
The institute supports a broad range of scholars, including faculty fellows, graduate fellows and assistants, and visiting scholars.
“Northwestern Buffett is a critical component of our academic mission and our contributions to society,” Provost Kathleen Hagerty said. “Deborah has a deep understanding of our mission and opportunities, and we appreciate her leadership during this transition.”
Cohen’s research areas are European history and global history. Her most recent book, “Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took on a World at War,” won the Mark Lynton History Prize, the Goldsmith Prize and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize. It also was named a best book of 2022 by the New Yorker, NPR, Vanity Fair, BookPage and Booklist. She writes regularly for The Atlantic on subjects ranging from punk rock to World War I photography.
Cohen, the former chair of Northwestern’s department of history, was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2018. She has held fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, the American Council of Learned Societies (Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars) and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Cohen earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She taught at Brown University before joining the Northwestern faculty in 2010.
Hagerty expressed gratitude for Riles’ leadership and impact during her tenure.
“Annelise is a critical voice for global sustainability on our campus and beyond,” Hagerty said. “I want to thank her for her contributions to the University as executive director of Northwestern Buffett.”