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U-M Honors student Evan Binkley Wins Marshall Scholarship

By Katie Gass

Photo provided by Evan Binkley, 2019

LSA Honors Program Senior, Evan Binkley, is a 2020 recipient of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship. Originally from Washington DC, Evan is currently interning with the U.S. State Department’s Office of Art in Embassies and will return to graduate in May 2020 with an Honors History of Art major and Museum Studies minor, under the direction of Professors Ray Silverman and Bradley Taylor respectively.

The Marshall Scholarship was founded in 1953 by an Act of Parliament and commemorates the gratitude of the British people to their American counterparts. Each year up to 50 Scholars are chosen for this program and awarded full cost of attendance for 1-2 years of graduate study at any UK institution in any field of study. Selected for their academic merit and leadership potential, Marshall Scholars are also chosen for their ambassadorial potential, with an emphasis on strengthening ties between Britain and America.

In his first year of study with the Marshall Scholarship, Evan will attend the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and earn his Master’s Degree in Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies. For his second year, Evan will complete the African Studies Master’s degree, also at SOAS.

When Evan first began his undergraduate education at U-M, the opportunity to pursue his dream of one day studying at SOAS, the leading institution for the study of the African continent, seemed nearly impossible – especially considering the cost of international graduate study. However, through his continued interactions with Henry Dyson, Director of ONSF, he felt inspired to find a way to achieve his dream. Evan says, “For the Marshall Scholarship, I was particularly inspired by the ability to study at any university in the United Kingdom. Further discussions with Henry about my experiences at the Smithsonian Institution and State Department allowed me to visualize the contributions I could make to U.S.-U.K. relations as a Marshall Scholar.”

Evan also draws inspiration to attend SOAS from his time as a Program Assistant with UMMA under the direction of Laura de Becker, Helmut & Candis Stern Associate Curator of African Art, and his research with Professor Ray Silverman while at UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the coast of Ghana. Ever ambitious, Evan has also pursued his interests in Washington, DC both as Curatorial and Public Program Intern at the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art, and with his current internship with the Office of Art in Embassies (AIE). AIE promotes cultural diplomacy through their work with exhibitions, permanent collections, site-specific commissions and artist exchanges in more than 170 countries. In his current role, Evan has had the opportunity to consult with United States ambassadors regarding art exhibitions for their residences abroad.

Excited by the possibilities offered by the Marshall Scholarship, Evan looks ahead to his future graduate studies in London. In particular, he says, “the opportunity to immerse myself within the diversity of cultural institutions in London rooted within an interdisciplinary education at SOAS.”

Evan is especially passionate about the opportunity to engage with several key institutions, including The British Museum, Royal African Society, Tate Modern, October Gallery, United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO, and The National Gallery.

Upon completion of his studies at SOAS, Evan will work to promote cultural heritage as a more integral component of diplomatic relationships between the United Kingdom, the United States, and African countries. Speaking to his hopes for the future, he says, “Heritage sites embody vital settings for the negotiation of identity, history, and memory. Grounded within graduate study in the United Kingdom, I am committed to lead discussions of this nature to ensure the future of our shared past. The ability to study at SOAS, a leading institution on this subject, will provide an unparalleled background to engender global change.”

Look on the ONSF website for more information about the Marshall Scholarship and how to apply for the 2021 application cycle.