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Some of the Professors that Teach in the Major

International Studies is an interdisciplinary major. Students take classes from different departments and get to meet faculty with different experiences and viewpoints. Here are just some of the professors you may meet. Be sure to introduce yourself to them as an International Studies major.


Professor Colin Flint, Political Science, International Studies Faculty Advisor

For Dr. Colin Flint, a Utah State University Professor and the International Studies Major Advisor, being 16 was more than another year of high school, even if he didn’t know it at the time. As a student in the UK before the fall of the Berlin Wall, he had the opportunity then to travel through the Soviet Union and see life under communism. Even though he first joined the London police force after high school, this experience sparked an early interest in politics and eventually a desire to study geography at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In 1990, the world was undergoing a dramatic shift in power. “Live Aid” was holding charity concerts for African famine, the USSR had collapsed the year before, and Dr. Flint completed his bachelor’s degree with plans to study Politics and Development in graduate school. When he moved to America for a graduate program at the University of Boulder, he was surprised in the difference between American and British culture, something that most consider to be similar. American schools were more formalized and sports were an important part of college life. Realizing that each culture operates under different assumptions (even the UK and the US) reignited an interest in international political power. He became heavily involved in international research on the geography of Nazi power. This became the focus of his master’s thesis and the quantitative research that he compiled on Hitler’s rise to power formed the foundation for his future career. After 9/11, teaching political science changed. Many Cold War assumptions were discredited by the terrorist attack on the United States and new research needed to be done. This led Dr. Flint to write “Introduction to Geopolitics”, a book that gave him global visibility as an author.

Currently, Dr. Flint travels internationally frequently, speaking at conferences about the research he’s done for his books on geopolitics. From his experience, being able to travel is not only a rewarding experience, but beneficial in networking and collaborating with people in different countries. It is, “the best way to interact with the rest of the world”. While speaking at a college conference in Iran, he’s learned that students there are interested in reestablishing interaction with the Western world. And back in America, he works tirelessly as the International Studies major advisor to create opportunities for students to gain an international perspective through classes, study abroad, and internships.


Professor Jeannie Johnson, Political Science

“Find your passion, invest an obsessive amount of time studying and researching, and then build personal connections.” Dr. Jeannie Johnson, an international relations professor at Utah State University and consultant for the CIA, exemplifies her own advice in her rise in the international community.

As a graduate student at Utah State studying political economy, she met with Ron Mortenson, a State Department officer at the embassy in Paris. With his help, her high academics, and already spoken French, she secured a position in the personnel office at the U.S. embassy in Paris doing surveys on Parisian’s cost of living.

Three years after graduating with her master’s degree, she became an Intelligence Officer for the CIA, where she found a deeper passion for international security studies than political economics.

In 1999, she left the CIA to work for the U.S. embassy in Croatia during the bombing campaign against Serbia. While working to understand the negative reactions of the Serbs, the ambassador in Zagreb showed a picture of a young girl with a target taped to her head in protest of the NATO campaign. Questioning Serbian reactions against NATO became a formative experience for Dr. Johnson. She recognized that something was missing from traditional analysis. This is when she read the work of Colin Gray, a forward-thinking strategic analyst who believed that international security had neglected culture as part of analysis. She spent the next six years avidly studying strategic culture while also lecturing at Utah State University.

In 2006, as a CIA consultant trying to introduce strategic culture analysis to the international security community, she was given the opportunity to host a conference on international security. After 3 speakers cancelled, Dr. Johnson, as the only one qualified enough to speak on strategic culture, gave the presentations, receiving the attention of Colin Gray.

This gave Jeannie the opportunity to study with him directly, eventually receiving her Ph.D. in 2013 at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. She has authored and co-authored many academic articles and books on strategic culture, where she found passion in studying the lives of people directly connected to international security. As a CIA consultant, Jeannie directly influences American foreign policy by applying strategic cultural analysis to both the United States and any other international power. To Dr. Johnson, every culture and every person is an important part of historical analysis and a significant part of her life. Her teaching style at Utah State stresses an international, cultural experience embedded with years of professional experience that helps students learn important academic and real-life skills.


Professor Christy Glass, Sociology

Dr. Christy Glass grew up in Flint, Michigan, a large industrial city outside of Detroit that was suffering from unemployment and economic turbulence during her youth. From her experiences there, she found early interest in studying work—who has access to decent jobs and how patterns of inequality change over time. With the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union before the start of her bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan, Christy now had access to study directly in Russia and Eastern Europe. For Christy, this was a perfect place to study changing patterns of work and inequality. She was able to study in St. Petersburg during her undergraduate years. Seeing firsthand the impact of market reforms on native Russians influenced her to further explore comparative patterns of work and inequality. In 2000, she began a PhD program in sociology at Yale University, hoping to learn about processes that create inequality in work and career advancement.

For her dissertation, she began researching gender inequality in the job market in Central Eastern Europe and Russia and found that women without children often benefited from market reforms while mothers suffered. This discovery pushed her to continue research in Central Europe in order to explain the emergent ‘motherhood penalty’ in access to jobs. She spent several years interviewing employers in Hungary’s finance and business sectors to better understand how recruitment, hiring and promotion practices negatively impacted professional mothers.

After completing her dissertation at Yale, she began her current position at Utah State University where she now has the opportunity to continue her research on work and inequality and teach undergraduate students with unique backgrounds. She advises her students to seek to understand complex social issues, from workplace inequality to large scale social change, by using a variety of sociological research methods. She believes two of the best opportunities available for undergraduate students at USU are study abroad programs and involvement in faculty research.


Professor Abdulkafi Albirini, Linguistics

Dr. Abdulkafi Albirini, a linguistics professor and Arabic coordinator at Utah State University, has always enjoyed the art of language learning and teaching. From early in his academic career, Abdulkafi explored different regions of the world through their linguistic heritage. He already realized that learning languages is key for understanding world cultural practices and perspectives. Dr. Albirini, a native Syrian, began studying English at the University of Al-Baath in Homs after finishing his secondary education.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Dr. Albirini moved to the United States to graduate with two doctoral degrees, one in Technologies of Instruction and Media from the Ohio State University and another in Linguistics from University of Illinois. His years of study in language and technology laid a foundation for Dr. Albirini’s current research interests. At Utah State, he has studied the interrelation of language, technology, and culture. He has also studied the role of technology in changing language use and cultural practices. He has additionally studied topics in first, second, and heritage language acquisition as well as sociolinguistics – how language affects and is affected by social issues, culture and power relations.

As the coordinator of the Arabic section at USU, Dr. Albirini recommends that all students, especially those interested in international studies, take time to participate in a study-abroad program. He believes that international experiences help students relate to and understand different cultural perspectives. He leads a study-abroad program in Jordan every other year where students learn about the Arabic language and culture, among other subjects, as well as explore historically important ancient sites. He also recommends students take time to explore courses outside of their comfort zone, something he believes that language courses can often fill for people as they stretch their ability to understand and appreciate different societies and peoples.