Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Michael Struett

Dr. Michael Struett is an Associate Professor and recently appointed Chair of the Political Science Department. Struett received his bachelor’s degree with honors at the University of California Berkeley in 1995 and completed his Ph.D. at the University of California Irvine in 2005. He is the author of The Politics of Constructing the International Criminal Court: NGOs, Discourse, and Agency, and published articles in Ethics and International Affairs, Global Governance and PS:Political Science and Politics. In a recent interview, we discussed a variety of topics relating to his research and new responsibilities as Chair of the Political Science Department. He also offered advice to current and incoming PS majors.

Responsibilities as Chair of the Political Science Department

His main responsibility includes “ensuring the continuity of the Political Science Department.” This entails overseeing changes to the Political Science curriculum and leading the faculty members. Other responsibilities that come with being chair include organizing departmental meetings and engaging in the decisions of hiring, promotion, and tenure.

Dr. Struett’s goals for the Political Science Department

The biggest initiative Dr. Struett is advocating for is revising the Political Science curriculum. These changes would include requiring comparative politics (PS 241) in addition to other core PS courses. Struett hopes that with new faculty members and new class offerings, students will have expanded opportunities to learn about comparative political analysis.  Aside from curriculum changes, Struett said he wants to continue hosting interesting events for students and the NC State community.

Dr. Struett’s research as an Associate Professor

Dr. Struett’s research focuses on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its vital role in fostering cooperation between states and creating a structure to hold international criminals accountable. His research examines global governance through institutions like the United Nations and other multinational organizations that act as a channel of communication between states seeking to maintain global peace and security.  

How the Political Science Department changed over time

When Dr. Struett was hired by NC State, it was a department of Political Science and Public Administration.  He said this is a “major change when compared to the current political science department because public administration is now separate from political science, however, both still work with one another.” The Political Science Department is also more focused on international and comparative politics now than when he first arrived with continued strength in American politics. In contrast, public administration concentrates more on preparing people to work in bureaucracies and local governance. Dr. Struett hopes to strengthen the judicial politics concentration for the Political Science Department in the future.

The benefits of having a degree in Political Science

Dr. Struett said, “The most important benefit of earning a degree in political science is the strong analytical, reading, and writing skills students learn during their undergraduate careers.”  Political Science majors graduate with a strong understanding of how to create arguments and analyze those arguments in writing. Another benefit is the broad career marketplace political science majors have available to them with many graduates succeeding in lifelong careers based on their PS education. While these skills are not unique to political science, Dr. Struett said, “These are important transferable skills that can be applied to various career paths.”

Differences between Political Science and other Humanities and Social Science Majors

Dr. Struett said that while they are all similar in nature there are distinct divisions between the social sciences and the humanities. According to Struett, social scientists categorize events into types and classifications while humanities majors examine events through an interpretative perspective. When looking specifically at Political Science, Sociology and Psychology are sister majors to Political Science, but Struett believes that economics is more closely related to PS although it is currently housed within a different college (Poole College of Management and Agricultural and Life Sciences). While there are differences among the majors, Dr. Struett believes in order to be a good political scientist you need some understanding of other fields of study as well.

Advice for current and incoming students majoring in Political Science

Dr. Struett’s advice for students interested in political science is to be aware and learn about current events and local occurrences. He said, “Students need to work harder to find accurate news sources due to changes in the media landscape.” This advice is important to Struett because “good analytical reporting is a precious commodity.”

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