Areas of Specialization
My research and teaching interests straddle several borders: between international relations and comparative politics, between environmental and social science, and between conflict and development.
BackgroundI have research affiliations with the Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute, Oslo, the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Peterson Institute for International Economics. At the Strauss Center, I’m a member of the Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS) team. Prior to arriving in Williamsburg, I was Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas.
I am a data-driven educator/researcher with interests in the global security and economic implications of climate change, civil conflict, food security, and non-state actors in international politics. My research and teaching interests straddle several borders: between international relations and comparative politics, between environmental and social science, and between conflict and development. My analytic toolkit is derived primarily from bargaining theory, organizational economics, social choice theory, and econometric analysis. I apply these tools to five related areas of inquiry:
- Civil Conflict, Contentious Politics and International Security: Civil conflicts, and the governance vacuums to which they can lead, poses serious challenges to international security. Comparatively less well understood, however, are patterns of protest and conflict, often large in scope and international implications, which do not fit neatly into the intra- or interstate conflict paradigm.
- State Capacity: Peace and effective governance are necessary preconditions for human and economic development, yet the vast disparities across countries on these measures suggest large gaps in the capacity of states to generate the revenue necessary to provide order and basic social services. I cast the emergence of capable state institutions as the outcome of bargaining between societal actors rulers, and argue that geography has exerted a significant impact on this bargain by affecting the nature of the resource base over which bargaining takes place.
- Environmental Politics: Though environmental scholars have been predicting widespread conflict over natural resources for decades, evidence for environmental conflict is scant. I argue that the paucity of evidence is due to a failure to recognize that environmental stressors, particularly those related to climate change, are mediated by existing economic, political, and social institutions, as well as a focus on slow-moving trends in environmental data, rather than short-term fluctuations in environmental triggers, such as rainfall variability.
- Food Security: The biggest threats to food security in the near-term are not dwindling natural resources and free trade, but rather poverty, political barriers to market access, and the entrance of speculative capital into food and input commodity markets. A robust trading system and sensible regulation of commodity trading are the best remedy for current concerns over food security. Moreover, in light of forecast changes in global patterns of agricultural productivity, a robust trading system is the only conceivable way that a world undergoing climate change will be able to feed itself.
- Global Markets and Transnational Actors: Transnational rebels are a significant threat to peace and stability in both the international and domestic political arena. Comparatively less is known about the effects that transnational advocacy networks have on patterns of contentious politics, and state responses to contentious actions, in the developing world.
These basic questions motivate my research. I have interests also in food security, the fiscal contract theory of the state, and human rights.Please see my research page for information on my working papers and publications and my personal page for everything else.
PhD University of California, San Diego 2008
MA University of California, San Diego 2003
BA Kalamazoo College 2000