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Portrait Gallery: Michael Grieg, associate professor of political science

Michael Grieg, assoc prof, political scienceMichael Greig, associate professor in the Department of Political Science, teaches international conflict management courses ... and reminisces about Florida river tubing.

What is your title? How long have you been at UNT?

I am associate professor in the Department of Political Science and I have been at UNT for eight years.

What is your academic and professional experience?

I came to UNT after completing my doctorate in political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before returning to graduate school, I worked as an analyst for a market research company studying customer satisfaction for a variety of large companies. If you have ever filled out those comment cards after visiting a hotel or a restaurant, odds are that I did some analysis of your responses.

When did you become interested in international relations? 

As a child, I would read almost anything that I could find about foreign countries. Since I grew up in the 1980’s, I was especially interested in the Soviet Union and its relationship with the United States. So much so, that when I was in middle school I sent a letter in response to a call for responses to questions about the U.S.-Soviet relationship from Soviet citizens by Radio Moscow that was printed in our local newspaper.  My letter was apparently read on air and for years thereafter I received in the mail radio program guides, lapel pins, from Radio Moscow

I think that my interest in conflict comes from my family background. Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II and my great, great grandfather was a surgeon during the Civil War who kept all of his notebooks and logs. Being able to read about those experiences piqued my interest in why wars happen.

What is your favorite conflict to study or teach?

Finland Russia War 1939-40I have always found the 1939-1940 Winter War between Finland and Russia a fascinating conflict. Right, the Finnish army during the Winter War. (Library of Congress)

It is a good example of a war in which both sides would have been better off not fighting. The ability of Finland to fight as effectively as it did against a drastically larger and better equipped Soviet force is something that continually astounds me.

I am primarily interested in how, once war breaks out, it can be stopped or its effects limited. This has led me to do work studying the effectiveness of peacekeeping, the conditions where international mediation works, and the evolution of conflict in imposed democracies like Iraq and Afghanistan.

What is your favorite course to teach?

It is tough to pick just one course, but I would have to say my undergraduate conflict management class.  The ability to simulate negotiations and mediation efforts and apply them to real world events makes it a very fun class to teach.

Tell us about your family.

I come from a family of teachers.  My mom is a high school English teacher and my sister teachers at an elementary school. My wife is a director decision support for a hospital organization. We live with our dog, Hobbes, who is smarter than both of us.

Where is your favorite vacation spot? 

Stockholm, Sweden and the Ichetucknee River in north Florida. I love the people and architecture of Stockholm. The Ichetucknee River is, to me, the most relaxing place on earth where one can go tubing down a spring-fed river under a canopy of trees and Spanish moss.

(It's not possible to know everyone on a big, busy campus. So InHouse periodically publishes Portrait Gallery features to help us learn about our colleagues and their contributions to the university's success. Send suggestions for Portrait Gallery subjects by email to InHouse with "Portrait Gallery" in the subject line.)

(Interview by Megan Beck, student assistant, University Relations, Communications and Marketing)


Posted on: Tue 25 January 2011

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