William & Mary

David Dessler


Office: Morton 28
Email: [[dadess]]
Mobile Phone: 804-339-5883

Research Interests

International Relations (Theory)
Qualitative Methods


Professor Dessler has been with the College since 1984 and is currently a Professor of Government. His primary teaching interests are in international politics and theory, and his research focuses on the philosophy of social science as it applies to international relations theory and political methodology.

In 1987-1989, Professor Dessler worked with Professor Clyde Haulman under a Ford Foundation Grant to design the College's first International Studies Program.

From 2003-2005, Professor Dessler served as Associate Dean of International Studies at the Reves Center for International Studies, and from 2000-2005, he was Director of the International Relations Program. In these roles Professor Dessler initiated a collaborative effort to restructure the International Relations program, a process that ultimately led to a major overhaul of the IR program under the direction of Professor Michael Tierney in 2006. Professor Dessler traveled to England, Japan, China, and Russia in support of Reves study abroad programs as Associate Dean. He also worked intensively with the Development Office from 1994-2005 to help raise money for study abroad and faculty research in internationl relations.


Professor David Dessler started his undergraduate career at Rice University and received his B.A. in History and B.S. in Physics from The University of Oklahoma in 1978. He later earned his M.A. in 1980 and Ph.D. in 1987 in International Studies from John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.


Professor Dessler regularly teaches the theory sequence in International Relations: introductory (Govt 204), intermediate (Govt 327), and advanced (Govt 433). He taught a Qualitative Research Methods course from 1997-2000, and in past years has taught classes in International Political Economy, The Causes of War, and IR Theory and Vietnam.


Professor Dessler has written book chapters and many articles in publications including International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, Review of International Studies, Perspectives on Politics, and SAIS Review.

Fellowships and Grants

Professor Dessler was a Visiting Fellow at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University in 1991-1992. He was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University in 1995.

Professor Dessler was a founding member of the Consortium for Qualitative Research Methods in 2000 and taught at the Qualitative Methods Institute at Arizona State University each January from 2000-2005.


Professor Dessler lived in a freshman residence hall, Taliaferro Hall, from 1987-1989, as part of an experimental Honors Programs. Dessler chaired the nominations and elections committee for Arts & Sciences in the late 1980s, and has been elected three times to the Faculty Affairs Committee of Arts & Sciences, which he chaired in 1989-1990. He has also served two terms on the Faculty Assembly.

Honors, Prizes, and Awards

Professor Dessler won the Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award in 1991. He also won a teaching award from the Alumni Association in the same year.