IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Inside CU's faculty profile series
Our faculty are a source of great pride and bring a world of expertise, experimentation and excellence to our students and our community. Meet Tom Zeiler, professor of history and international affairs and executive editor of the journal Diplomatic History
Tom has taught at CU-Boulder since 1990. He writes and teaches on American foreign relations, United States history, war, globalization and baseball. He has also taught in Argentina and Japan.
What drew you to your field of expertise and keeps you passionate about your work?
I've always loved history, but only European and certainly not American, which seemed so short and boring. Thus, I ended up in grad school studying American diplomacy and now I teach it! That was mainly because I couldn't enroll in a grad course on Europe during my first year of grad school, and thus was compelled to take a United States history course, which turned out to be on American diplomacy. I loved it. Studying American foreign relations allows one to keep a foot in the United States and another abroad, and the mix is exciting and always fascinating. But, I should add that studying history was not my top choice coming out of college: I was headed back to Europe to live with my girlfriend (and eventual wife), or destined for law school. My professors and parents suggested I consider grad school in history and take the summer before starting in Europe with my girlfriend. Sage advice - my wife is definitely the better half! Teaching, research and service – all of it – keep me passionate.
What do you most enjoy and what is the most challenging aspect of your profession?
The most enjoyable part of the profession is teaching (though the travel isn't bad either!). College students are such a wonderful age group to teach because of their idealism, capacity to learn and coolness. Research, writing and serving the university and my profession are top interests, but the teaching keeps me energized and honest: Honest because they are such a challenge – every time I think I know the truth, students correct me and lead me to question all over again.
What are your favorite interests and activities apart from your work?
My interests include travel, baseball, skiing, baseball, saxophone, construction, camping, golf and above all, being with the family. Did I mention baseball?
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