Faculty Spotlights

Joseph Parent on what happens when great powers decline

“Great powers are very cautious when they're in periods of decline and rising powers are very cautious about declining powers in those periods,” said Joseph M. Parent, associate professor of political science and associate director of the Notre Dame International Security Center.

Parent’s research interests include international relations theory, security studies, grand strategy, and foreign policy. His most recent work focuses how states respond to shifts in power. Along with co-author Paul McDonald, Parent analyzed the conventional wisdom that great powers become more aggressive when they are falling, but was intrigued when the data did not bear out that conclusion.

“In fact, decline is one of the biggest causes of peace,” he said. “It turns out that states were very aware of their declining power and they knew that if they started something, it would end badly for them.”

Parent believes one of the most valuable applications of the project’s findings is the baseline expectations for how a state might behave in a particular circumstance.

“We think that the United States is in a moment of decline relative to China, but we don't think that is destiny,” he said. “Retrenching for a while allows the United States to bend its growth trajectory up and avoid costly fights on the periphery over non-vital things.”

NDISC director Michael Desch on nuclear weapons, the military, and America's role in the world


“[America] can't do everything, even as the world's most powerful country, and often our efforts to try to do everything turn out to be counterproductive both for us and for the unfortunate people that we're trying to help.” 
— Michael Desch

Michael Desch is professor of political science and director of the Notre Dame International Security Center. His research interests include international relations, American foreign policy, and American national security. More information can be found at his faculty page.

Professor David Campbell on political involvement and civic engagement


“As people have pulled back out of civic life, out of community involvement, it has led to the rise of a form of political or ideological extremism dominating our political system.” 
— David Campbell

David Campbell is the Packey J. Dee Professor of American Democracy and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. His research interests include American politics, civic engagement, political behavior, religion and politics, and education policy. More information can be found at David Campbell's faculty page.

Luis Fraga on Latino Civic Engagement in America

“I want to do research that provides some hints to both major political parties as to how they might be able to make effective appeals to Latino communities, and through Latino communities, to many other communities across the United States,” said Luis Fraga, the Professor in Transformative Latino Leadership and professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame.

Fraga, who is also a fellow at Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives, focuses primarily on American politics where he specializes in the politics of race and ethnicity, Latino politics, immigration policy, education politics, voting rights policy, and urban politics.

In this video, Fraga discusses his work co-creating the Latino National Survey (LNS), the first-ever state-stratified survey of Latinos in the U.S.

“If we understand this community better, it allows us to make better strategic decisions as to what kind of country we want to leave for our children,” said Fraga. “In fact, this community might represent the ideal America that we all have always aspired for our country to be.”

Susan Collins on Violence and Political Founding in Ancient Greece

“The Ancients need to be made relevant to the concerns that we have today,” says Susan Collins, associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame.

Collins specializes in ancient political philosophy. Her most recent book is a translation of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, with Robert Bartlett (University of Chicago, 2011), which was reviewed in the New York Times book review and nominated for the John D. Criticos prize. She is also the author of Aristotle and the Rediscovery of Citizenship (Cambridge 2006).

Her current research examines how ancient Greek authors viewed political founding. “Authors such as Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon—they don’t see founding coming about as a result of consent,” says Collins. “The ancients rightly see the true founding as the victory of one set of partisans. That’s a very different view of founding and I think it gets at some of the dilemmas we have today when we see revolutions and civil wars. How does one build a political community out of that?”

Patrick Deneen on the Constitution and the American Way of Life

“When we think about a constitution, we ought to think more comprehensively,” says Patrick Deneen, the David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies in Notre Dame’s Department of Political Science.

“My interest is in exploring the way that the American Constitution in some ways establishes a way of life that is identifiably distinct from the way that peoples in other nations tend to live their lives.”

Deneen’s research and teaching encompass the history of political philosophy (with special interests in ancient Greek and American political thought), democratic theory, religion and politics, and literature in politics. Deneen is the author of The Odyssey of Political Theory and Democratic Faith, and editor of Democracy’s LiteratureThe Democratic Soul, and Redeeming Democracy in America.