PhD, Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, 2010
MA, Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, 2005
BA, Economics, The University of Texas at Austin, 1987
My teaching philosophy is fundamentally that a teacher's role is to facilitate learning by students, help them develop their ability to apply what they learn, and instill in them a lasting curiosity for knowledge. Fundamental to performing those roles effectively is keeping students engaged.
I attempt to do so by following a basic guideline: keep things interesting. And that means keeping things interesting for a range of students with varying skills, learning styles, and backgrounds. I therefore incorporate in my classes a variety of strategies and formats in an effort to reach all of my students, allowing them to make the most of their abilities; I choose readings that are not too dry or technical; I incorporate images and videos into lectures, both so students can better recall course content and so they can place themselves in the shoes of political actors to better understand their decisions; I use humor and other tactics during class to draw students away from other options such as checking social media or getting in a short nap; I tell personal anecdotes during lectures to illustrate complex theories and include real world case studies to bring difficult concepts to life; I invite students try to answer the questions other students, or I, ask; and I have students do small group work in class to grapple with the material.
A major goal for each course is for students to leave with a depth of knowledge and skills related to course content. However, my main aim is for students to walk out of my classroom and into the world with the ability to apply what they have learned about political science or intercultural studies in their day to day lives because, in the end, most of their interactions in life will be both political and intercultural.
My research analyzes the politics of economic globalization and the effects of political institutions on the choices of domestic actors, such as politicians, voters, and businesspeople in developing states. I am particularly interested in the interplay of the forces of economic globalization and the political institutions that comprise regime type in Asia. Two examples are my papers "Playing Risk: Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in Cambodia" (2014) in Contemporary Southeast Asia and "Risky Business: The Political Economy of Chinese Investment in Kazakhstan" (2014) in the Journal of Eurasian Studies. In these I analyze how China uses aid and loans to influence foreign governments in order to protect Chinese investments in developing states with high political risk and corruption. I have also published papers on the effects of changes to political institutions on election outcomes in Taiwan, "Electoral Rules and the Democratic Progressive Party's Performance in the 2004 and 2008 Legislative Elections in Taiwan" (2012) in the Journal of Asian and African Studies and on the impact of regime type on the ability of developing states to borrow money, "Transparent Motives: The Democratic Advantage in International Credit Markets" (2017) Journal of International Relations and Development, with my SIS colleague Yong Kim.
My book, Dividing ASEAN and Conquering the South China Sea: China's Financial Power Projection (2018, https://www.hkupress.hku.hk/pro/1700.php) investigates China's efforts to thwart the ability of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to act collectively in negotiating with the more powerful Chinese over rival territorial claims in the South China Sea. I show how China can do so by using its foreign aid, loans and investment to influence just one ASEAN member to support China's preference for bilateral negotiations with rival claimants rather than multilateral negotiations with a united ASEAN. I conclude that regime type, specifically more authoritarian political institutions, provide avenues for Chinese influence over governments in developing states, but democratic institutions mitigate that influence, thereby constraining China's global power projection.
My current projects include a journal article and a co-edited book on the politics of China's Belt and Road Initiative.