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Sibel Oktay

Nonresident Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy

Headshot for Sibel Oktay

About Sibel Oktay

Sibel Oktay is a nonresident senior fellow of public opinion and foreign policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois, Springfield. She received her PhD in political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University in 2014. Between 2012 and 2014, she was a predoctoral fellow at Northwestern University’s Buffett Institute for Global Affairs.

An expert on international affairs, Dr. Oktay’s research focuses on the nexus between foreign policy, decision-making, public opinion, and political leadership. Her works in these areas appear in European Journal of Political Research, Journal of European Public Policy, and British Journal of Politics and International Relations, among others. She has also published on the role of defense firms in European armaments cooperation, and the role of domestic politics on Turkish and Israeli foreign policy. She is a contributor to several edited volumes, including Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, Foreign Policy Change in Europe Since 1991, Routledge Handbook of Foreign Policy Analysis Methods, and Teaching International Relations During Disruptive Times. Her current research investigates when and how alliance rhetoric shapes policy preferences among U.S. foreign policy elites, in collaboration with the Council’s Paul Poast, Dina Smeltz, and Craig Kafura.

Oktay’s first book entitled Governing Abroad: Coalition Politics and Foreign Policy in Europe, is forthcoming with the University of Michigan Press. The book investigates why and how international commitments vary across coalition governments in the post-Cold War period by weaving together statistical analyses of foreign policy events and in-depth case studies from Denmark, Finland, and the Netherlands. The project is a 2013 recipient of the Alexander George Award from the International Studies Association.

Oktay is also a frequent media contributor. Her opinion pieces have appeared in The Hill, The Conversation, and The State Journal-Register of Springfield, Illinois. She has been featured in several national and international outlets such as The New York Times, Vox, The Globe and Mail, BBC and Deutsche Welle alongside others in Brazil, Lebanon, the Netherlands, and Turkey. She was an inaugural Public Voices Fellow of the University of Illinois between 2019-2020.

Sibel Oktay is the 2021-2022 president of the Foreign Policy Analysis section of the International Studies Association. She is also a member of the American Political Science Association and Midwest Political Science Association.

Born and raised in Turkey, Oktay has extensive experience living, learning, and researching in the Netherlands, Jordan, Morocco, and Israel.

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