I teach classes in security studies and comparative politics at St. Andrews. I also contribute lectures on ethnic politics, methods of causal inference, and research ethics to team taught classes at both the graduate and undergraduate level.
Classes/Modules Offered (click title for syllabus/module booklet):
- IR3060 Rebellion and Revolution
- IR4548 Force and Statecraft
- IR5064 The Military in Politics
I try to create a sense of community in my classes and to deeply engage students in learning about complex political problems from the perspectives of the actors involved. To pass judgment is easy. To condemn or blindly defend is easy. To understand is much harder. It requires empathy and a tremendous amount of knowledge about where individuals and social groups come from and what hopes, fears, and constraints shape their behaviour. To achieve this depth of understanding, I both insist on assigning a high volume of reading while employing a range of simulations, debates, games, and policy workshops into each class.
I am honored to have been repeatedly recognized for excellence in teaching by the St. Andrews Students’ Association. In 2022, I was shortlisted for the Outstanding Teacher (Arts and Divinity) Award. In 2017, I won the Excellent Module (Arts/Divinity) Award for IR4548 Force and Statecraft. And in 2014, I won the Innovation in Teaching Award.
Asking for Recommendation Letters:
First, you should put some time and consideration into determining who to ask for a recommendation letter. A good reference should know you well enough to make their letter specific and personal. Generalities rarely impress. For both undergraduate and graduate students, in order to write for you, I need to have taught you in a small seminar, have advised your dissertation for at least a semester, or supervised you as a research assistant.
You should also make sure that you have excelled in the eyes of your letter writer in some tangible way: be it through academic achievement, dedication, improvement, or another quality your future employer or graduate program would value. I write supportive but above all honest letters.
Second, writing a good recommendation letter requires time and effort. I need a minimum of two weeks notice in order to fit you in my calendar. More is better. Aim for a month. Also, you should always ask for a reference prior to submitting anyone’s contact information to any organization.
Finally, be as organized as you can in asking for a reference. Doing so saves me valuable time and energy. You can ask for a letter either via email or in person. Either way, please include the following in a single email or hard copy packet:
- a list of all graduate programs/jobs/grants you are applying for and the corresponding due dates for submitting the reference letters
- a note indicating anything you want me to highlight in my letter (I do not have time to read through program materials myself)
- your current CV/resume
- a copy of your application essay or cover letter