Michael C. Desch

Michael C. Desch

Packey J. Dee Professor of Political Science

Fields of Study: International Relations

Research and Teaching Interests: International Relations, American foreign policy, International security

Office Hours: Tuesdays 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Wednesdays 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and by appointment

2026 Jenkins Nanovic Halls




Director, Notre Dame International Security Center (NDISC)

Michael Desch is Professor and Director of the International Security Center at the University of Notre Dame.  He was the founding Director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs and the first holder of the Robert M. Gates Chair in Intelligence and National Security Decision-Making at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University from 2004 through 2008.  Prior to that, he was Professor and Director of the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky.  From 1993 through 1998, he was Assistant Director and Senior Research Associate at the Olin Institute. He spent two years (1988-90) as a John M. Olin Post-doctoral Fellow in National Security at Harvard University's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies and a year (1990-91) as a Visiting Scholar at the Center for International Studies at the University of Southern California before joining the faculty of Political Science at the University of California, Riverside (1991-1993).  

He received his B.A. (With honors) in Political Science (1982) from Marquette University and his A.M. in International Relations (1984) and Ph.D. in Political Science (1988) from the University of Chicago. 

He is the author of When the Third World Matters: Latin America and U.S. Grand Strategy (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), Civilian Control of the Military: The Changing Security Environment (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), Power and Military Effectiveness:  The Fallacy of Democratic Triumphalism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), co-editor of From Pirates to Drug Lords: The Post-Cold War Caribbean Security Environment (Albany: State University Press, 1998), editor of Soldiers in Cities: Military Operations on Urban Terrain  (Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College, 2001), and has published scholarly articles and reviews in Foreign Affairs, International Organization, International Security, Survival, The Journal of Strategic Studies, Security Studies, Armed Forces and Society, Orbis, Joint Forces Quarterly,  The Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, World Policy Journal, The American Political Science Review, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Mershon International Studies Review, Review of International Studies, and Ethics.  He has served on the editorial boards of International Security and Security Studies.  He has published opinion pieces in The Christian Science Monitor and The American Conservative and appears frequently on radio and television. 

He has worked on the staff of a U.S. Senator, in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the Department of State, and in the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division of the Congressional Research Service.  He has traveled extensively in Europe, the Former Soviet Union, Asia, the Middle East, and the Western Hemisphere.