International Relations

international relations group

If you want to be globally aware, debate pressing issues such as war, disease, diplomacy, poverty, human rights and trade, and prepare yourself for a career overseas or with any number of government or international organizations, then international relations may be the major for you. Majoring in international relations will position you competitively for work in the foreign service, non-governmental and international advocacy organizations, and environmental and humanitarian agencies.  Our program will teach you to grapple successfully with complex global issues and international challenges in an increasingly interdependent world, training you for responsible global citizenship and international engagement.

The international relations major at Saint Michael's is built on small classes, extensive student-faculty interaction, and close mentoring and guidance by faculty who are leading scholars in their field. The program includes learning and co-curricular opportunities specifically designed to enhance the international content of your education, including semester and short-term study abroad, international internships, service learning and civic engagement projects, and leadership in student clubs and service organizations devoted to international citizenship.

The international relations major has six components:

  • Three core courses - Introduction to International Relations, Introduction to Comparative Politics, and either Introduction to American Government or European Political Thought
  • Four international relations electives in political science, including American Foreign Policy or Politics of the World Economy
  • Four breadth or area courses drawn from anthropology, business, economics, geography, history, humanities, religious studies, or sociology
  • Two research or integrative courses - Research Methods and Senior Seminar
  • Four semesters of a foreign language
  • An international relations experiential learning practicum

International Relations Learning Outcomes

Sample Four Year Plan for International  Relations Majors*

First Year
Fall Spring
PO 120 Introduction to American National Politics PO 200 Political Science Research Methods
First Year Seminar  Breadth Area I course 
Foreign Language I  Foreign Language II
Liberal Studies course Liberal Studies course
Fall Spring
PO 285 Introduction to Comparative Politics PO 245 Introduction to International Relations
Breadth Area II course PO 261 European Political Thought
Foreign Language III Foreign Language IV
Liberal Studies course Liberal Studies course
Fall Spring
PO 348  American Foreign Policy  PO 355 Politics of the World Economy 
Breadth Area I course Breadth Area II course
Junior Seminar Liberal Studies course
  Elective    Elective 
Fall Spring
PO 410 Senior Seminar in Political Science   IR-themed Political Science elective
Electives Electives

International Relations majors must take two courses in two of the following three breadth areas: Economics/Geography/Business, History/Humanities, and Religious Studies/Anthropology/Sociology.

* For students who enroll in the fall of 2018.

Jeffrey Ayres, PhD

Professor of Political Science
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B.A. University of Virginia
M.A. and Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Areas of Expertise:

Globalization, Global and Regional Governance, International Relations, Social Movements and Contentious Politics, Canadian and North American Politics

Courses I Teach:

  • Globalization and Resistance
  • Global Governance
  • Global Problems
  • International Relations
  • Politics of the World Economy
  • Social Movements and Contentious Politics
  • U.S. Foreign Policy

Michael Bosia, PhD

Associate Professor of Political Science
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M.A., Ph.D. Northwestern University
B.A. California State University, Sacramento
Fellow, Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto

Courses I Teach

Democratic Transitions
Film and Politics
France and Empire
Introduction to Comparative Politics
State Violence and Justice
The Politics of Food
Comparative European Politics
Comparative Politics of Oppression
First Year Seminar on Race, Gender and Sexuality

My Saint Michael's

Before starting doctoral studies, I was a staff director in the California State Senate working with communities affected by HIV/AIDS, one of a handful of out LGBT staffers in the state capitol at the time.  This experience inspired my research on politics between global and local, including activism on race, gender, and sexuality, questions of marginalization and citizenship, and processes of community building and participation.  I look at these in terms of economic change, in responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, in the new politics of food, and in local and transnational organizing against a wave of what I call “state homophobia.”  My research and teaching also focus on economic justice, democratic practice, and state violence and human rights – by exploring the ethical in the political.  While I pay attention to the key concepts and theories in comparative politics, I ask students and colleagues to think about the moral framework that informs politics and the ethical consequences of choices made within such frameworks.

I have conducted field research in France, Uganda, and Egypt, and travelled to India, Ecuador, Argentina, Spain, and Cuba as part of my educational responsibilities.  I am active in both the American Political Science Association and the International Studies Association, having served as Program Chair and President of the Organized Section on Sexuality and Politics and Program Chair of New Political Science at APSA, and in various capacities with the LGBTQA Caucus of ISA.  At Saint Michael's, I have worked with faculty, staff, and students to bring speakers to campus addressing human rights, LGBT politics, gender identity, international development, food politics, political violence, and democratic process in important contexts around the world.  I am currently co-adviser for Common Ground, our LGBTQI and Ally student organization.

Prior to moving to the Burlington area, I lived in the rural Northeast Kingdom, where I was a co-founder of Claire’s Restaurant and Bar, an innovative localvore and community supported restaurant.  


John Hughes, PhD

Professor of Political Science

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Saint Edmund's Hall 346
Box 164
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M.A., Ph.D. New School for Social Research
B.A. William Paterson College of New Jersey

Areas of Expertise:

American Constitutionalism, criminal justice, international terrorism

Courses I Teach:

  • American Constitutional Law
  • American National Politics
  • Civil Liberties
  • Criminal Justice
  • Senior Seminar: War on Terrorism, Capital Punishment

Richard Kujawa, PhD

Professor of Geography, Department of Environmental Studies and Science Chair

Contact Professor Kujawa

Saint Edmund's Hall 359
Box 144
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M.A., Ph.D. University of Iowa
B.Sc. Brunel University, London

Courses I Teach:

  • Place and Placelessness (First Year Seminar)
  • Introduction to Human Geography
  • Urban Geography
  • Political Geography
  • Economic Geography
  • The Geography of Water
  • Environmental Policy
  • Community and Environmental Planning

My Saint Michael's:

In my classes, advising and in the human geography program, one-on-one contact is encouraged. I encourage students to present their findings to external audiences and professional conferences. I help students with graduate school applications (especially those in Urban and Regional Planning). In the past few years, I have helped Saint Michael's graduates successfully apply to Cornell, Rutgers, SUNY-Albany, Kansas State University, the University of Iowa and several others. I also have some connections for internships in the local area.

Hands down, my favorite thing about this college is the class sizes. At Saint Mike's I am able to shorten the distance between my role as faculty member and expert, and my role as motivator and mentor. I see part of my job as a salesperson for the power of intellectual growth and lifelong learning. I work hard each and every day to make the sale!

Adrie Kusserow, PhD

Professor of Anthropology

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Saint Edmund's Hall 237
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Ph.D. Harvard University (Anthropology)
M.T.S. Harvard Divinity School (Tibetan Buddhism)
B.A. Amherst College, Phi Beta Kappa

Areas of Expertise:

Medical and Psychiatric Anthropology, Refugees, Globalization and Poverty, Modern Day Slavery, Anthropology of Refugees, Anthropology of Religion, Social Class in America, Anthropology of Global Media

Courses I Teach:

  • Culture Illness and Healing
  • Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking
  • Refugees
  • Social Inequalities


I am a cultural anthropologist with special interests in refugees, social inequalities, poverty, anthropology of religion, culture, illness and healing, social class, ethnographic poetry and anthropology of the child. I strongly encourage both service work and community engaged learning to be an integral part of my anthropology classes. I am also a strong proponent of study abroad and have taken students to Sudan, Uganda and Bhutan.

Robert Letovsky, Ph.D.

Professor of Business Administration and Accounting

Contact Professor Letovsky

Jeanmarie Hall 149G
Box 273
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Ph.D. Concordia University
M.B.A. University of Toronto
B.Comm. McGill University

Areas of Expertise:

Case development focused on organizational strategy, business/government relations and sustainability.

Courses I Teach:

  • Managerial Ethics
  • Business Policy & Strategic Management
  • Organizational Problem Solving
  • Marketing

My favorite class to teach is Managerial Ethics. It is the first required course in the BU major, and it really gets students to step outside of their comfort zone. While there is a core theory that has to be addressed, the course is set up so that we can explore issues that are current in the business world. For example, this Fall semester, the overall theme of the semester-long team research project is the ethical dilemma(s) posed by the adoption of new technologies in business. We will be examining data mining, drones, robots, self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence. The course also puts students into situations where ethical reasoning comes into play. I typically use a computer simulation to give students a hands-on experience as a manager in a series of hypothetical situations where they must make decisions which are sound not only financially but ethically.

Shefali Misra, PhD

Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science

Contact Professor Misra

Saint Edmund's Hall 351
Box 398
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Ph.D. Brandeis University
M.A. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
B.A. University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India;

I have taught at Saint Michael’s College since 2009, before which I taught briefly at Oberlin College, Ohio. My research relates to the challenges of combining diversity with the civic cohesion demanded by democracy, both from the perspective of designated “outsiders” and of “members” who collectively make decisions about bestowing or withholding membership. UntiI 2000, I was a financial and political journalist for four English-language national dailies in New Delhi, India, for 11 years. In that role I traveled widely and wrote about international relations, and especially the politics of global trade. During that time, I reported for my home newspapers from Singapore, Geneva, London, Brussels, Geneva, Berlin, Bonn, Paris, and Seattle. My teaching of political theory and practice is thoroughly informed by this professional experience of “real” world politics and as well as the personal experience of spending over half of my life in the world’s most diverse developing country. I always strive to give students a flavor of the reality of the world in which we live and how that both shapes and circumscribes the possibilities of the world that we might one day live in.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Political Theory and History of Political Thought
  • International Relations and Political Economy

Courses I Teach:

  • (Modern) Western Political Thought 
  • Multiculturalism in Theory and Practice
  • Introduction to Politics
  • Feminist Political Thought
  • Democracy and its Critics
  • Identity in Politics
  • Introduction to International relations
  • Politics of the World Economy

Research Interests:

History of Political Thought, Liberal political thought, Rousseau’s Political thought, Democracy and diversity, Nationalism and citizenship, Politics of identity. My publications are in the fields of liberalism, multiculturalism, and Rousseau’s political thought and my current research is on the relationship between democracy, liberalism, and nationalism.

Tara Natarajan, PhD

Professor of Economics | Chair, Department of Economics

Contact Professor Natarajan

Saint Edmund's Hall 355
Box 234
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Ph.D. University of Nebraska - Lincoln
M.A. University of Bombay (Mumbai), India
B.A. Sophia College, Bombay (Mumbai), India

Areas of Expertise:

Theoretical Research: 1) Economic Thought: Theory &Philosophy, Methodologies & Practice; 2) Pluralism in Economics
Applied Research: 1) International Development & Poverty Studies; 2) Globalization, Institutions & Development Transformation

For examples of publications, please click on "Research"

Courses I Teach:

  • Economics of Development and Poverty
  • Economic Thought and Policy
  • Microeconomic Theory
  • Principles of Macroeconomics
  • Principles of Microeconomics (regular terms and summer sessions)
  • Senior Seminar
  • World Economies

My Saint Michael's:

I joined the college as a faculty member in 2001. Over the years I have realized that, the connection I develop with students, really matters to me. We first get to know each other in class, where I combine conversation and lecture along with spontaneous “call and response” modes of interaction. Our college engenders mentoring as an ethos which when combined with manageable class sizes, makes it possible for me to connect with students during extended sessions in my office to help and reinforce their understanding of the material. These interactions also provide the conversational space not only to explore a variety of topics related their career and academic interests but also lighter conversations about music and food for example. As a teacher, advisor and mentor in a residential liberal arts college, I am able to develop an ongoing relationship with many of my students, mentees and advisees during their four year college career which often continues after they have graduated.The kind of personal investment we make in each one of our students is a mutually reinforcing process between students, faculty and all those connected with them in a variety of capacities outside of classes. These relationships create our evolving institutional ethos and collective values at the college.

As a social scientist, specifically an economist, I understand the world as a social construct. The economy is socially, philosophically and culturally embedded, simultaneously shaping and shaped by values, through historical time and by events. The economy is alterable, evolving, and most importantly complex. My commitment to scholarship, teaching, and service are articulations of how I understand and live in the world. These three aspects of an academics avocation, for me are expressions of living both consciously and conscientiously.

My thoughts on Teaching

Patricia Siplon, PhD

Professor of Political Science
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Contact Professor Siplon

Saint Edmund's Hall 347
Box 372
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Ph.D. Brandeis University
B.S., M.S. Utah State University

Areas of Expertise:

HIV/AIDS; health policy in developing countries; U.S. domestic and international health policy and foreign aid policy; sub-Saharan Africa (particularly Tanzania). : I am a long-time AIDS scholar and activist and I am the faculty adviser to Saint Michael's chapter of the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC).

Courses I Teach:

  • Introduction to American National Politics
  • Research Methods
  • Global Politics of the AIDS Pandemic
  • First Year Seminar: Global Studies
  • Intro to Public Policy; HIV/AIDS in East Africa
  • Parties, Elections and Political Participation
  • Senior Seminar: African Politics
  • US Health Policy

My Saint Michael's:

People here take the mission of the college seriously. We sometimes debate the meaning of the mission, but even that suggests to me that we care about what it means and how we make it come to life on campus. Saint Michael's College has been very supportive of my attempts to integrate my teaching, scholarship and service into everything I do. I feel like I have the opportunity to build on the great work of others who have been here longer than me and who have been working on social justice in and outside of the classroom for many years. I also appreciate the chance to work intensively with students who are interested in going beyond the material taught in a class to do service and experiential learning, as well as research and advocacy work.

I like to think that many of the students in my classes and in political science generally are there because they want to help improve the world, and they're interested in learning the tools for doing that. I appreciate that so many of them are open to new ideas and growth opportunities while they are here.

My favorite course to teach is PO 351-- Politics of the Global AIDS Pandemic. This course lets me combine my strongest interests as a teacher, a researcher and an activist. It draws students from all kinds of majors, and gives us all an opportunity to have an extended, semester-long conversation about a critical global problem, and what we plan to do about it.

I think that both PO 351-- Global Politics of AIDS and PO 352-- HIV/AIDS in East Africa are pretty unique opportunities for students. Both allow students to look at a very important issue in depth, and both give students opportunities to put their knowledge into action through advocacy and service learning. PO 351 is a prerequisite for PO 352, which actually takes students to East Africa for a 2-3 week period. I have also done many independent study and independent research projects with students who got interested through these classes and wanted to keep going.

Peter Vantine, PhD

Director, First-Year Seminar Program; Chair and Associate Professor of Classical and Modern Languages and Literature: French

Contact Professor Vantine

Klein Hall 114
Box 227
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M.A., Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison
DEA Université de Genève (Switzerland)
B.A. Amherst College

I joined Saint Michael's College in the Fall 2011 semester.  I have taught at The University of Saint Thomas (MN), Macalester College (MN), and Indiana University.  I have lived in Paris and Dijon, France, as well as in Geneva, Switzerland.  Among other scholarly projects, I am working on a book tentatively titled Entre fantaisie et réalisme: texte, contexte et métatexte dans les premiers romans et les nouvelles des frères Goncourt (Between Fantasy and Realism: Text, Context, and Metatext in the Early Novels and Stories of the Goncourt Brothers).

Areas of Expertise:

Nineteenth-century French literature (poetry, theater, novels) and culture, particularly print and visual culture.

Courses I Teach:

  • First-Year Seminar: The Examined Life
  • First, Second, Third, and Fourth Semester French (Beginning and Intermediate French)
  • Advanced Conversation
  • Advanced Grammar and Composition
  • Topics in French Culture: French Humor; Paris – City of Shadow, City of Light
  • Topics in French Literature: The French Novel; The Nineteenth-Century French Novel



Having myself chosen to attend a small liberal-arts college as an undergraduate, I believe deeply in the value of a closely-knit academic community in which professors are wholly engaged in the life of the college, and in which learning thrives within and beyond the walls of the classroom. In addition to helping students acquire concrete language skills and analytical abilities at all course levels, I strive to share my enthusiasm for and insights about French language, culture, and literature. 

While my research on nineteenth-century French literature always informs my courses on that particular historical period, more generally my scholarly endeavors feed my own intellectual curiosity, passion, and critical judgment, which I then hope to inspire in my students. Futhermore, I attempt to remain up to date with work on foreign language acquistion and pedagogy, while also sharing my own experiences with colleagues both informally and at conferences.  I believe that excellent teaching is always a work in progress, a constant process of renewing, reworking, and refining one's practices.  Students, in turn, are not only the targets of such efforts but are also sources of invaluable feedback about how to improve them.

International relations majors must complete an international-themed practicum: a semester abroad or faculty-led study away experience, an internship at an agency such as the Vermont Council on World Affairs or Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, or an alternative experiential learning activity such as a MOVE international service trip.

Study Abroad

International relations majors are strongly encouraged to study abroad either for a full semester or a short term study trip.  Recent short-term study trips led by political science faculty have included the annual Parliamentary field trips to Ottawa, Canada; a summer academic study tour to Navdanya's Farm, an organic training center in the city of Dehradun, India; and multiple service trips to the Ilula Orphan Center in Tanzania.


Academic internships allow students to earn academic credit and gain essential vocational and career experiences each semester in non-profit organizations and government agencies.  Local organizations supporting international relations internships include the Vermont Council on World Affairs and Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. 

Student-Faculty Research

Saint Michael's encourages students to pursue independent research and there are many opportunities for close student-faculty research collaboration and mentoring.

You will find Saint Michael's alumni working at the State Department as a foreign service officer (Michelle Kayser, '08), the Peace Corps in Guatemala (Alyssa Malone, '12), international fair trade advocacy (Andrew Driscoll, '09), as well as in the U.S. Senate (Senator Patrick Leahy, '61). 

Careers for international relations graduates include:

  • U.S. State Department Foreign Service
  • International aid agencies
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • United Nations
  • Research and think tanks
  • International business, education and journalism

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