Zachariah Sippy Awarded Labouisse Prize for International Civic Engagement Project

May 9, 2023

Princeton University seniors David Amelemah, Zachariah Sippy and Jack Thompson have been awarded the Henry Richardson Labouisse ’26 Prize to pursue international civic engagement projects for one year following graduation.

Amelemah, a chemical and biological engineering major from Amityville, New York, will aim to understand a messenger RNA processing method called post-loading at the University of Sydney. Sippy, a history concentrator from Lexington, Kentucky, will research and report on constitutional and political developments in the Southern Cone, especially the ongoing Chilean constitutional reform process from Santiago. Thompson, a joint concentrator in Spanish and Portuguese and international studies from Sand Springs, Oklahoma, will travel to São Paulo to work at the intersection of public policy and healthcare in Brazil.

The Labouisse Prize, which awards $35,000 to each recipient, enables graduating seniors to engage in a project that exemplifies the life and work of Henry Richardson Labouisse, a 1926 Princeton alumnus who was a diplomat, international public servant, and champion for the causes of international justice and international development. Labouisse’s daughter Anne Peretz and family established the prize in 1984. It is administered by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS).

“Princeton alumnus Henry M. Labouisse ’26 was a leader of the great global generation that defeated fascism and ended colonialism,” said Emmanuel Kreike, professor of history and chair of the Labouisse selection committee. “Today, ultra-nationalist and racist populism call for a resurrection of old constraints on transnational and international mobility and the need for future leaders to live, work, and research in the service of humanity is perhaps more urgent than ever before.”

Zachariah Sippy

Sippy intends to study the failure of the 2022 proposed constitution in Chile, and the ongoing reform process sparked by a wave of mass protests in 2019. “There’s a lot to be researched and written on that topic,” said Kim Lane Scheppele, the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the University Center for Human Values. “He is ready to test every taken-for granted assumption to see whether it is warranted without getting bogged down in the process — and all with a gratifying commitment to the life of the mind and to social justice.”

Over the course of his fellowship year, Sippy plans to interview business leaders, domestic and foreign alike, as well as Chilean activists and politicians to better understand how constitutional reform is subject to international economic pressures and demands. “Examining questions like these not only contribute to our understanding of contemporary Chilean politics, but also the relationship between imperialism, law, and development, more generally,” he said. Sippy aims to publish his research in journalistic outlets in the coming year.

He draws upon a wealth of journalistic experience: Sippy served as managing editor at The Daily Princetonian, interned at the Forward and Washington Monthly and, as a freelancer, has been published in The Nation, Teen Vogue, Business Insider and The Hill. After his fellowship, he hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in history. “Historians and journalists practice a similar craft: asking questions, interrogating sources and archives, holding powerful figures and institutions to account, and informing public discourse through the pursuit of knowledge,” he said.