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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: +1 919 613 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

M.S., National Defense University, 1995
MS, National Security Strategy, National War College, Washington, DC, 1995
BA, Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 1972
A.B., Cornell University, 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 US Foreign Service in 2010, and it has given me a chance to think more deeply about the issues I worked for nearly three decades in diplomatic postings as diverse as Jakarta, Indonesia; Brussels, Belgium; and Bamako, Mali.

For the last few years I have been digging into the life and times of one of the last Japanese stragglers found after World War II. Lance Corporal Shoichi Yokoi had been hiding in the jungles of Guam for 28 years when two local hunters stumbled across him in 1972. He was a combination of Robinson Crusoe, Rip Van Winkle and The Fugitive, dodging bullets from US patrols and the Guamanians, grubbing for food wherever he could find it, and missing a huge chunk of 20th century history. Ninety percent of the 20,000 Japanese soldiers on Guam were wiped out when the US retook the American territory in 1944. Yokoi was the last to come out alive. When he finally got back to Japan, more than 70 million people tuned into live television coverage of his arrival, the equivalent in percentage terms to 200 million Americans today. I’m obsessed with how he managed to survive, especially after all his companions had died, why he didn’t just give himself up, and why he apologized to his countrymen for coming back alive. I am writing a book – working title Shamefully Alive – that I hope will begin to answer those questions.

Before becoming a full-time researcher, I taught courses here at Duke on energy security, border issues and immigration. I drew on my diplomatic career to give my students a practical view on managing these issues. My postings as the US Consul General in Quebec City, the Deputy Chief of Mission in the US Embassy in Ottawa, and the same job in the US Embassy in Mexico City, gave me plenty of real-life material. I tried to provide my students enough context and history so they could propose their own policy solutions to these complex problems. 

I joined the Foreign Service after a career in journalism. I was a reporter for three U.S. newspapers, beginning at the Pacific Daily News on Guam, where I first learned about the Yokoi saga, and ending at 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 publications like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal

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. I got to teach two semesters at Duke’s 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