Associate Professor of Political Science
Theory Into Practice
Russell Crandall, associate professor of political science, believes in the value of public service and intellectual inquiry. He has taught first grade in Honduras, worked as a human rights official with Catholic Relief Services in Colombia, and served as a consultant for the World Bank, Andean Development Bank, and the United Nations. He spent a year serving on President George Bush's foreign policy staff at the National Security Council, and after being part of Barack Obama's "America's Team" in the presidential campaign, he currently is on leave directing Western Hemisphere Affairs in the Department of Defense.
A member of the Davidson faculty since 2000, Crandall makes a point of involving students in his work. They've helped him with research and worked with him on articles and books. "As a student, you have the opportunity to have a transformational education," he says. "The opportunity for that is great here. It doesn't guarantee it'll happen-a lot of that is up to you-but it's easy here at Davidson; that's what we're set up to do."
The Value of Being Able to Change Your Mind
Crandall is expert in taking the classroom off campus; he's led students on trips to King's Mountain, N.C., Colombia and Peru. These excursions usually involve meetings with a wide range of people: scholars, politicians, military leaders, insurgents, humanitarian workers, reporters and representatives of NGOs. "By the end," he says, "the students' heads are spinning-and mine is spinning, too. A journey like this can turn your assumptions upside down. In Latin America, things aren't always black and white; you can see a lot of gray. And with new evidence, you can change your mind."
Historical Economist? Economic Historian?
"My real deep academic interest is historical-what we've done and why. But I'm also very concerned about what the U.S. is doing around the world, and what we should be doing. They play into each other."
Leadership and Service
"The more time you spend in regions such as Latin America, the more you reflect on what's positive and negative here at home. There's a lot that needs to be done in the world, and we try to show our students how they might do it."