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Stephen Kelly, Visiting Professor of the Practice of Public Policy and Canadian Studies  

Office Location: 106 Rubenstein Hall, Rubenstein 106, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone: (919) 613-6050
Duke Box: 90312
Email Address: stephen.kelly@duke.edu
Web Page: https://duke.box.com/s/0gz5ctwg44eqcbup8kw6zlkiqiocgwmp

Areas of Expertise

  • Energy Security
  • National Security and Defense, U.S. Borders
  • North American trade and security issues

MS, National Security Strategy, National War College, Washington, DC, 1995
BA, Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 1972

Research Categories: Energy security, North America, Canada, Mexico, the U.S. border.

Research Description: North American issues, including energy, continental defense, immigration, trade and the U.S. border.

Typical Courses Taught:

  • Pubpol 209s, Energy and u.s. national security

Office Hours:
By appointment.

Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Kelly, SR. How the Carolinas Fixed Their Blurred Lines.  The New York Times (August, 2014). [how-the-carolinas-fixed-their-blurred-lines.html]  [abs]
  2. S.R. Kelly. The U.S. Ambassador Canadians Loved to Hate.  Toronto Globe and Mail (June 8, 2014). [available here]
  3. S.R. Kelly. Be careful what you wish against on Keystone pipeline.  Detroit Free Press (April 29, 2014). [article]
  4. Kelly, SR. A Bend in the River.  The New York Times (November, 2013). [html]
  5. Kelly, SR. Bonjour America!.  The New York Times (July, 2013). [html]
  6. Kelly, SR; Cellucci, AP. Taking a Nafta Approach to Immigration.  The Wall Street Journal (March, 2013). [taking-nafta-approach-immigration]
  7. Kelly, SR. Good Neighbor, Bad Border.  The New York Times (November, 2012). [good-neighbors-bad-border.html]
  8. Kelly, SR. Oil Under Our Noses.  The New York Times (March, 2012). [oil-under-our-noses.html]
  9. Kelly, SR. America’s Foreign Service: Soldiers Without Guns.  Chicago Tribune (September, 2012). [ct-oped-0914-embassy-20120914,0,1252048.story]
  10. Kelly, SR. Why Americans Should Love Canadian Oil.  Toronto Globe and Mail (February, 2012). [available here]
  11. Kelly, SR. Time to Give Canada Some Respect.  Chicago Tribune (June, 2012). [ct-perspec-0617-canada-md-20120617,0,7484797.story]
  12. Kelly, SR. Three Things Americans Don’t Need to Worry About.  Chicago Tribune (May, 2012). [ct-oped-0502-misconception-20120502,0,1964940.story]
  13. Kelly, SR. China vs. Keystone in Canada oil sands.  The Des Moines Register (March, 2013). [Another-View-China-vs-Keystone-Canada-oil-sands]
  14. Kelly, SR. Why Long Island Pays the Highest Gas Prices.  Newsday (February, 2012). (Also published in the Raleigh News & Observer, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and the Indianapolis Star) [kelly-why-li-pays-the-highest-gas-prices-1.3536312]
  15. Kelly, SR. Another shadow to pay attention to on Groundhog Day: Mexico’s.  Newark Star Ledger (February, 2012). (Also published in the Raleigh News & Observer)) [html]


I’m a research scholar at the Sanford School of Public Policy here at Duke University.  Sanford has been my home since I retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2010, and it has given me a chance to think more deeply about the issues I worked for 28 years in postings as diverse as Jakarta, Brussels and Bamako.

In the last decade of my diplomatic career I focused on North American questions.  I served in Quebec City as the U.S. Consul General, in Ottawa as the Deputy Chief of Mission, and in Mexico City, again as DCM.  Problems with the U.S. border with Canada and Mexico occupied much of my time, leading me to visit dozens of land border crossings.  I also dealt with energy, immigration and trade issues:  Canada and Mexico are major oil suppliers to the U.S., and our No. 1 and No. 2 largest export markets.  Concerns about the drug trade and border security also loomed large.  This experience became the basis of courses I taught at Sanford on the U.S. border, energy security, and North American regional security.  As it has turned out, all these are still hot button issues, thanks in no small part to President Trump.  I tried to provide my students enough context and history so they could propose their own policy solutions to these complex problems.

Before joining the Foreign Service, I was a reporter for three U.S. newspapers, including the Charlotte Observer, for which I was the Raleigh and later the Washington correspondent.  I have gotten back to my journalistic roots in recent years by writing op-eds for various publications, mainly on borders, energy and immigration.  Starting this academic year, I have stepped out of the classroom to spend more time writing and researching these topics as a research scholar in the Sanford School.

I graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and hold a master’s degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C. I served in the Peace Corps in Zaire after college, and picked up a few foreign languages over the years, including French, Indonesian, Dutch and Spanish.  All but French are badly rusted.  I got to teach two semesters at Duke’s new campus in Kunshan, China, a country where energy, border and security issues are just as touchy as they are currently in the U.S.


Stephen R. Kelly is a Visiting Professor of the Practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. His specialty areas are energy, security, and North American issues, including trade, immigration and border management. He has been teaching at Duke since 2008 in connection with his assignment as the U.S. State Department Diplomat in Residence assigned to Duke from 2008 to 2010. Mr. Kelly officially retired from the U.S. Foreign Service at the end of 2010.

During his 28-year Foreign Service career Mr. Kelly served at seven foreign postings on four continents. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Kelly was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission to Mexico, one of the largest U.S. diplomatic establishments in the world. Mr. Kelly focused in particular on the myriad border issues with Mexico, growing law enforcement and immigration problems, and on efforts to further North American integration.

From 2000-2004 Mr. Kelly was Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Mission to Canada. Mr. Kelly also served as Consul General in Quebec City from 1995-1998, where he was the chief U.S. reporting officer on the Quebec Sovereignty Referendum of October 1995.

Other overseas postings include the Netherlands as political counselor, Indonesia as human rights officer, Belgium as a political and consular officer, and Mali, in West Africa, as a management officer.

Prior to his assignment to Duke, Mr. Kelly was Director of the Senior Level Assignments Division at the State Department in Washington, D.C., where he oversaw the counseling and assignments of the most experienced and high-ranking career officers in the U.S. diplomatic service. His early domestic assignments included the State Department Operations Center, special assistant to the Deputy Secretary, and desk officer for Senegal, Mauritania and The Gambia.

Mr. Kelly is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and holds a master’s degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C. His foreign languages are French, Spanish, Dutch and Indonesian. Before joining the Foreign Service, he served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Zaire and as a journalist for various U.S. newspapers, notably the Charlotte Observer, for whom he was the Raleigh and later Washington correspondent.

Stephen Kelly