Tim Passmore, a doctoral candidate at CU Boulder, has won a prestigious research award from the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy. He is one of 20 recipients this year.
Passmore studies how young and weak democracies can prevent military coups by committing the military to United Nations peacekeeping missions. The idea is to socialize members of the military to the benefits of a democracy by prompting interactions with soldiers from democracies.
I think what’s most fascinating about peacekeeping is that it’s a real-world relevant issue. In my field, we study a lot about conflict and nuclear weapons and a lot of things for which there aren’t necessarily direct policy implications. Peacekeeping has been common since the second world war but is especially relevant right now, as there are 16 peacekeeping missions around the world dealing with some of the most significant conflicts.
I think there are a lot of questions that need to be answered about how to best outfit these missions and make them the most successful. My research is directly relevant to the policy implications of peacekeeping.
It’ll be pretty much entirely for my dissertation. I’ll be using it over the next year to continue data collection. I’ve got some travel coming up for conferences, particularly to San Francisco in September. Then hopefully I’ll conduct some fieldwork, some data collection in New York at the U.N. headquarters and potentially some other fieldwork in the spring next year.
In New York my intention is to conduct some interviews with personnel at the Department of Peacekeeping at the U.N. headquarters and just gain a little bit more understanding about the composition of peacekeeping missions and their experiences of how peacekeeping influences actual peacekeepers when they’re in the field.
I applied for a PhD at a number of schools. CU was just a very attractive destination—based on the strength of the program and on the number of different faculty in my field. I came out for a prospective student visit and just fell in love with Boulder and the university. It’s a great place to study. The faculty are very supportive and it’s been a very collaborative environment.
I’d never been to Colorado prior to this, so it was a bit of a surprise destination but a good decision. I knew nothing about Boulder, so I certainly didn’t come here because of that; it just happened to be a great place as well as a good program.
I will most likely continue to work in academia. I’ll begin applying for jobs this fall. I love to teach, and teaching international relations would be a great fit. I’d love also to have some overlap into policy areas, perhaps with the U.N., perhaps getting involved in that kind of non-profit or non-academic work. We’ll see where the job market takes me.