My interests in global politics were sparked at a young age while growing up in north central Iowa.  Farming communities are keenly aware of events in world politics that can affect the price of crops, land, and equipment.  My parents were informed and engaged in politics and got me interested in participating in and studying politics at a young age.  My mom helped organize local caucuses, usually at neighbors’ farmhouses, and she volunteered at a voting site at the fertilizer plant where my dad worked.  We bumped into political candidates in nearby cities and we experienced incredible access to political candidates as the first caucus state for presidential elections. We moved to the “big city” when I was 16 and I lived across the street from a retired schoolteacher (Vivian, also my daughter’s name), who invited to me her house for coffee to discuss politics.  I didn’t fully appreciate those early access points to the study of politics and international relations (IR), but my background profoundly shaped the questions and theories that I found compelling in my academic journey. It is perhaps fitting that I am now the F. Wendell Miller Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa, a named chair that was funded by an Iowan farmer.

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