Lynn Eden Leaves CISAC with a Legacy of Mentoring Young Scholars

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Lynn Eden talks with alumni attendees of the International Studies Association conference at an event in San Francisco.

Lynn Eden has announced her retirement after 25 years as a senior research scholar at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.

She has also been associate director for research since 2002, except for 2008-2009 when she was acting co-director—with co-director Sig Hecker on the science side.

“All the people who have been associated with CISAC for the last 25 years have benefited from her wise counsel,” said CISAC colleague Sig Hecker, research professor of Management Science and Engineering.

“She really has been the heart and soul of this place.”

Colleagues and former fellows said it would be hard to imagine CISAC without Eden.

“Most of us, even long-timers, have never known CISAC without her,” said CISAC co-director Amy Zegart.

“Lynn has been pivotal to both fostering and embodying the intellectual culture we know and love at CISAC: discussion that is rigorous and kind; candid and constructive; penetrating and interdisciplinary.”

Many said Eden’s most enduring legacy at CISAC would be her mentorship of young scholars during their formative years as CISAC fellows.

“She’s a wonderful mentor and a central figure in creating the intellectual community here at CISAC,” said David Holloway, Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History.

Michael McFaul, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, said Eden had a tremendous impact on his development as a young academic.

"As a visiting fellow at CISAC very early in my academic career, I benefited tremendously from Lynn Eden's mentorship, intellect, and friendship," McFaul said.

"I am simply amazed at how many people enjoyed the same kind of mentorship with Lynn as I did as a young scholar. I thought I was special! It turned out that I was just one of dozens, if not hundreds, of Lynn's pupils."

Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, former FSI and CISAC director and current California Supreme Court Associate Justice, said he had also benefited from Lynn's guidance over the years.

"Many dozens of scholars are who they are -- and have achieved as much has they have -- because of Lynn," said Cuellar.

"I am among them. I benefited from Lynn's contributions when I was a graduate student, a junior faculty member, a tenured professor, honors program director, CISAC co-director, and FSI's Director."

FSI/CISAC senior fellow Martha Crenshaw said no matter where she traveled in the world to speak at conferences on international security, she invariably encountered former fellows who recalled the positive influence Eden had on their experiences at CISAC.

“She’ll always be pretty much the first person they mention,” Crenshaw said.

“Her role as a mentor has been so important to the many people who come through this place.”

Crenshaw’s observation was echoed by Rod Ewing, Stanford professor in the School of Earth Sciences and the inaugural Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security Studies at CISAC.

“Before I arrived at Stanford, I already had heard of Lynn from past fellows,” Ewing said.

“All were deeply in debt to Lynn for her efforts to shape their thinking and their projects.  I have never seen any single person have such an impact on so many fellows.”

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“Lynn has been a mentor par excellence for dozens of CISAC fellows over the years,” Sagan said.

“Indeed, if there was an “Social Science Acknowledgement Citation Index” (like the well-known Social Science Citation Index), my guess is that Lynn Eden's count would be the highest in all of international security studies.”

And her mentorship wasn’t limited to the social sciences.

“Lynn has mentored a stunning breadth of scholars, including political scientists, sociologists, anthropologists, physicists, computer scientists, and biologists,” said former CISAC fellow Rebecca Slayton, who is now on the faculty at Cornell University.

Other former fellows said they deeply valued Eden’s thoughtful feedback on their academic work.

“Lynn read my work with great care, and offered commentary that was on point, useful, and kind,” said Kimberly Marten, professor of political science at Barnard College and a faculty member at Columbia University.

“She was also a real friend, who cared about me not only as a budding scholar but as a person. She remains a role-model for me of what mentorship is all about.”

Colleagues said they also admired Eden’s contributions to the field of nuclear scholarship.

“Her own work, notably her award-winning book Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge and Nuclear Weapons Devastation, has made an original and important contribution to the study of nuclear weapons and nuclear policy through the lens of organizational theory,” Holloway said.

History professor Norman Naimark said he valued Eden’s “uncompromising intellectual honesty.”

“She wants to know; she wants to understand; she does not put up with artifice or entangled arguments; she tries as best she can to barrel in on the “truth,” whatever that might be,” Naimark said.

James E. Goodby first met Eden when they both served on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, before he moved to Stanford as an Annenberg distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.

“She came as close to pure, unbiased intellect as anyone I have ever worked with,” Goodby said.“

CISAC co-director David Relman said Lynn had helped shape and guide the intellectual discourse at CISAC.

“I’ve deeply valued Lynn for the rigor of her thinking, her love of teaching and mentoring of trainees and students, and the smile she brings to everyone’s face during any conversation,” said David Relman, CISAC co-director.

Elizabeth Gardner, FSI associate director for partnerships and special projects, worked alongside Eden at CISAC for more than a decade.

She said Eden helped make CISAC a place people wanted to come back to.

“CISAC is legendary for its “boomerangs” – people who return to the Center after their initial stint because they liked it so much the first time around,” Gardner said.

“The reason many of those people return is Lynn. It's her warmth, willingness to help with the hardest problems and her laser-like intellect that kept people coming back.”

Eden said she would continue her academic writing after retiring from CISAC, on “how organizational processes have enabled U.S. policymakers and nuclear war planners to make real plans that if enacted would result in the very thing no one possibly wants—the end of the world.”

Eden will also attend a variety of CISAC seminars when she can, and particularly the social science seminar series David Holloway and she founded 20 years ago.

Eden’s retirement party is scheduled to be held in CISAC’s Central Conference Room from 12noon–1:30pm on Thursday, December 3.