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WashU Political Science Expands and Welcomes Distinguished Faculty in International Political Economy and Conflict

The Department of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis is proud to announce a significant expansion of its faculty in the subfield of international relations -- the study of military, diplomatic & economic interactions between countries & institutions around the world. Professors Amy Pond, Timm Betz, and Xiaoyan (Christy) Qiu, each accomplished scholars and professors, have joined the department where they bring expertise in international political economy and international conflict. This expansion builds on the expertise of Professor Carly Wayne and Professor David Carter and positions WashU as a field leader.

Two new hires, Professor Amy Pond and Professor Timm Betz, each specialize in the field of international political economy, an emerging discipline in the department. Professor Amy Pond and Professor Timm Betz both come to the department from the Technical University of Munich. Pond and Betz are welcomed as Associate Professors with tenure in the department, and their individual and joint research has garnered international acclaim. Professor Pond’s research seeks to explain how political concerns motivate economic policies, and has a particular substantive interest in investment flows across borders. Pond says, “Existing literature emphasizes two consequences of international markets. First, firms face political risk. Once they enter a new market, the host government can change policies in ways that are costly for them: increasing tax rates, strengthening regulations, or even seizing their assets. If they cannot guarantee their property rights, they may opt not to enter new markets at all. In this context, politicians seek to make their markets more attractive.” Pond argues that they do so in ways that reinforce their domestic political incentives- democratic governments for example improve property rights, while authoritarian governments reduce foreign corporate taxation. Together through joint research, Betz and Pond have explored how firms manipulate their ownership structures to gain coverage under bilateral investment treaties.

Professor Christy Qiu is a strong addition to the department’s existing team of international conflict scholars and joins the department as an Assistant Professor. Viewing conflict through the lens of formal political theory, Dr. Qiu shared the following: “I study interstate and intrastate conflict with formal theoretic and statistical methods. In particular, I am interested in how international and domestic factors intertwine to influence conflict behaviors. My work addresses this topic by studying (i) warring parties’ military and bargaining strategies in conflict and (ii) external support for rebel groups in civil wars. A recurring puzzle in conflict studies is why civil wars last so long. My research helps address the question by revealing that the fighting strategies adopted by belligerents can hinder the peace process beyond just affecting battlefield outcomes. [...] One research project that I am really excited about examines the endogenous and protracted process of colonial border formation in Africa and their deleterious consequences for contemporary outcomes such as economic development and conflict.”

Professor Betsy Sinclair, Chair of Political Science expressed enthusiasm about the new hires, emphasizing the commitment to maintaining a faculty of the highest caliber. Says Sinclair, “This cohort of faculty allows us to study some of the most challenging political problems in the world today. Building a collaborative faculty cohort that can bring new insights into war, conflict and international financial systems positions WashU to provide key insights into building better governments, systems, and enables us to train students to work in these areas after graduation.” 

The influx of new faculty members is expected to create exciting research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. Their expertise will not only advance the university's research agenda but also provide students with valuable insights and mentorship. These distinguished scholars are set to contribute significantly to research, teaching, and community engagement. 

In an era of rapid change and growth, WashU Political Science continues to adapt by recruiting talented individuals who will enrich the campus experience and research caliber. The department is poised for a new chapter of academic excellence, research innovation, and community engagement with these exceptional additions to its faculty roster. As the Department of Political Science welcomes these distinguished scholars, the campus community eagerly welcomes the intellectual energy and collaborative spirit they bring.