Statement on Diversity

Statement on Diversity

As a first-generation and former international student interested in Civil-Military Relations, I strive to contribute to enhancing diversity and climate in teaching, scholarship, and outreach:


At the core of my teaching lies the desire to enable students to become critical reflectors. This requires an approach that presents knowledge from different perspectives, e.g., political or cultural. Part of these will be provided through me as the instructor by relying on texts, articles, examples, or news from outside of the United States and authors from a variety of backgrounds and experiences (e.g., by using as a source for class material). I also make it a point to bring guest speakers to my courses whenever possible. Their presentations and interactions with students during Q&A sessions serve the purpose of connecting the materials covered in class with experiences and knowledge from the real world. Former guests for my classes include a Brazilian Ph.D. candidate who talked about the 2018 elections, a professor emeritus who shared his personal experiences with German reunification, a professor of Russian language and history who, together with one of her students, spoke about Russian Civil-Military Relations and the war in Ukraine, and an Egyptian At-Risk-Scholar (Visiting Lecturer) who talked about military rule in his home country and, in other class, US Foreign Aid to the Middle East and its impacts. All guests left a lasting impression on the students in my classes, and their presentations and statements were reflected upon for weeks.

The other part will be provided by the students themselves through a high degree of involvement and feedback. To enable and allow all students in my classes to voice their opinions without repercussions, hindrances based on writing or speaking ability, perceived power dynamics, or time constraints, I provide different ways to participate. These include traditional in-class discussions, group projects, written work (e.g., memos or essays, on paper and in digital form), and short feedback rounds. Additionally, as mentioned above, a quality learning experience requires an open and inclusive atmosphere. That is why I aim to reduce the barriers that might keep students from reaching out for help to me or each other. As an instructor, I try to get to know the individual members of my class and provide them with multiple ways to contact me (in person or virtual), even outside of regularly scheduled office hours. To further create a level-playing field, especially for nontraditional, first-generation, or new students, I schedule a library presentation for each of my classes once per semester. These include a librarian-led talk about resources and how to access them, which can be tailored to the composition of the class (i.e., a more generalized presentation for introductory classes, or a highly specific one for upper-level courses, for example: “How to use special collections.”). To help students get to know their classmates, I rely on introduction rounds and group work (with changing compositions). Moreover, whenever it becomes apparent that a student is struggling, I try to pair them with more successful students in an unofficial, low-stakes, peer-mentoring program. This has worked well for me in the past. I recognize that Political Science classes can be a place for heated discussions, especially on sensitive topics. As a teacher, it is my responsibility to maintain civility and create a respectful learning environment which I achieve through humor (which helped me de-escalate many heated debates), personal examples that make me relatable, or the simple fact of being a foreigner who is often perceived as more neutral in the classroom. In the past, students have reacted well to this approach to teaching, as illustrated in consistently good evaluations, especially in creating a respectful and positive learning environment.


My research is focused on Civil-Military Relations. I want to understand how the government, the public, and the military talk to and about each other and what consequences these conversations have for society, the state, and international security. My work surrounding conscription addresses issues of diversity and equity. Mainly, service in the military, be it voluntarily or forced, has mostly been a masculine domain with little room for anything different. Furthermore, conscription, especially in modern times, is suffering from equity issues with its focus on men and not drafting every eligible candidate. Additionally, it exacerbates existing societal inequalities because it puts a particular burden on marginalized groups that do not have the resources (power or financial) to escape forced service in the military. By analyzing conscription, its impact on society, and remediating policies, such as Conscientious Objection and Alternative Civilian Service, I want to inspire debates on how policy could be reformed in a way that the military can still perform its tasks while simultaneously making it equitable and beneficial for society. I hope that raising these questions in my research and teaching will not only further motivate inquiry within my field or others, e.g., Economy, History, Sociology, etc., but also encourage students and our community to recognize and reflect on their relationship with their government, state, and the military.


In order to bridge the gap between scholarship and the real world, as well as to reach out to the broader community, I am currently engaged in bringing external guest speakers to campus. For Fall 2022 this featured a guest lecture from Dr. Brandon Prins (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) on the “Rise and Fall (?) of Sea-Piracy in the Modern World”. In the past, I had the chance to serve in several organizations that were focused on issues of diversity and inclusion. As a member of the Graduate Student Senate, I worked closely with the Graduate School to improve the situation of graduate and professional students on campus. It gave me distinctive insights into the unique role of this student population as both university employees and students and the problems that come with it. In my two years as an officer, the Senate managed to successfully lobby for the first increase of minimum graduate stipends in several years. Furthermore, I volunteered to become a member of the University of Tennessee’s Technology Fee Advisory Board. Working alongside others, I quickly realized how much I took technology and its availability for granted. I was surprised to learn that many students and their families were struggling to access even the most essential technological equipment or even broadband internet, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic hit our campus.