From Life to Work


For many academics our publications define who we are, and some of mine are duly listed below.  However, in the more holistic spirit of this site – and also to highlight the sheer, utter contingency of it all – I want to begin this narrative not the day I got my Ph.D., but in the beginning.

I was born in Mainz, (then West) Germany to a German father and an American mother, but we moved to the U.S. when I was 2, at which point my dad stopped speaking German in the home and so I never learned it.  Still, I have many times received emails written in German, on the assumption that I was German (you can draw your own inferences from that…).  My father is  however also a professor, but he was a recent émigré with off-beat research interests starting at the bottom of the American academic food chain, so growing up we moved a lot as he tried to gain stable employment – Binghamton, NY; Valparaiso, IN; Victoria, B.C.; and eventually St. Paul, MN, when he got a tenured position at Macalester College and we (sort of) settled down at age 10.  Yet there was still more shuffling around, so that all told, between K-12 I went to nine different schools, only twice two years running.

With each move I managed to acclimate socially, but not surprisingly always felt like I was on the outside looking in. Perhaps that social distance helps explain why I spent the next twelve years close to home.  I stayed in St. Paul to go to college at Macalester, where I majored in political science and minored in philosophy; and then moved all the way across the Mississippi to Minneapolis (about 10 miles) to the University of Minnesota for graduate school in political science.  Even though it’s only my adopted state, living in Minnesota for twenty years gave me a strong sense of being a native, and thus an identity as a "nice guy."

Two teachers played a decisive role in those years. Charles (Chuck) Green at Macalester nurtured my growing interest in political science by showing how my longstanding passion for philosophy could be explored in that more applied disciplinary context.  Taking a seminar with the other, Raymond (Bud) Duvall at Minnesota, who became my dissertation adviser, kept me from dropping out of grad school altogether, which I was then seriously considering.  If I have been luckier in my career than anyone (including me) ever expected, then it is because of Bud and Chuck. Take either of them out of the picture, and my life – not just professional but then inevitably also personal – would have been completely different.  I hope someone else will be able to say the same thing about me down the road.

Click here to review my CV

Selected Publications