Why I support King’s – A life remembered 

Alex Petersen in a market in Osh, Kyrgyzstan

Alex Petersen in a market in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Credit: Sue Anne Tay

[This article is from the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of InTouch, your alumni magazine]

Dr Alexandros Petersen (War Studies, 2006) was a talented young academic and writer who made a lasting contribution to the field of Eurasian geopolitics. In 2014 his life was tragically cut short when he was killed in an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. His legacy and the story of his life and work continue thanks to a scholarship set up in his memory.

Alex was an outstanding and gifted student. His energy and passion made a lasting impression on his teachers and contemporaries at King’s. When he graduated with a first-class degree in War Studies, it was clear that he would go on to achieve much success.

A rising star

Alex quickly became a rising star in international affairs. At 22 he founded the London branch of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, a global network of emerging leaders, passionate about tackling issues in foreign policy and national security.

After King’s, Alex gained a master’s and a PhD from the London School of Economics. He was a brilliant scholar of the geopolitics of Central Asia and the Caucasus. As a researcher and advisor he offered expert insight into the region’s energy security, and was affiliated with a number of foundations and institutes, including the International Institute for Strategic Studies and most recently the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. Alex had a natural gift for bridging the worlds of academia and public policy.

Wisdom beyond his years

Alex’s work shows he was a visionary thinker with wisdom beyond his years. He had scarcely completed his master’s when, aged 26, he embarked on writing his first book The World Island: Eurasian Geopolitics and the Fate of the West.

His latest project, which he had nearly finished writing at the time of his death, was on China’s role in Central Asia. In a few short years he wrote three books and published well over 100 articles.

Engaging with the world

Alex’s aspirations extended far beyond academia. His insight was informed by a natural curiosity, compassion and a love for Central Asia, Afghanistan, the Caucasus and China. He valued engaging with the world and had travelled and explored every country in the region.

In 2014 Alex went to Kabul to teach History, Politics and International Relations at the American University of Afghanistan.

On 17 January 2014, Alex was killed in a shooting and bombing attack on a café in Kabul. He was 29.

In Memory – The Alexandros Peterson Scholarship

Alex’s life and work is remembered through a scholarship programme in the Department of War Studies, made possible by a generous gift from the Psalida Petersen family and other donors. The scholarship funds a one-year master’s degree in Conflict, Security & Development and is open to students who are resident in Afghanistan, Central Asia and the South Caucasus.

As the family explains, ‘The aim of the scholarship is firstly to open up to the best and brightest students access to a world-class university education, regardless of means, and secondly to create a cohort of future leaders from this important region, to develop their skills so that they may return to their communities able to far better serve and lead. Our hope is that this scholarship programme will not only perpetuate Alexandros’s academic and personal memory, but also encourage other young people, through his example, to continue the work that he was unable to finish.’

The inaugural Alexandros Peterson scholars

Talking about the opportunity the scholarship provides, our inaugural scholars said:

I am honoured to have been granted the scholarship and to fulfil my dream of studying at a leading research university such as King’s. Thank you so much to the late Alexandros, to his family, and to others who have made it possible for people like myself to become part of a global community of international students, and to make the world a better place for all.’ 

I was born and brought up in war; the experience exists in my genes. Today, with academic knowledge, I can look at war from a much broader perspective. I am extremely grateful to the Petersen family for making this happen. Their noble initiative will have a great impact on alleviating the war and promoting peace and co-existence in Afghanistan.’ 

Find out more:
How to apply for the Scholarship
How to donate to the fund
Alexandros Petersen's books