My research is problem-driven and policy-relevant, designed to help bridge the divide between the worlds of academia and policy. In teaching, I aim to provide the kind of education that influences lives far beyond the classroom.
This vision that helps guide my career has been shaped by the core philosophies of several institutions where I have worked and studied.
While on staff at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, I saw first-hand the value of bringing together academics and policymakers to tackle the world's most pressing challenges.
Studying for my PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I embraced the 'Wisconsin Idea', which believes that education provided in universities should positively affect the lives of even those far outside it.
And the LSE's mission to 'understand the causes of things'—serum cognoscere causas—encourages me to identify the sources of complex social problems in order to help devise ways to help solve them.
In the LSE's Department of Social Policy, we pursue this mission from an international perspective and in a multidisciplinary way, recognising that no single methodological, theoretical, or disciplinary means of inquiry is the 'correct' one.
My work has been influenced by an eclectic group of thinkers who provide often provocative, sometimes controversial, but always thought-provoking insights for understanding the world: philosophers of pragmatism William James and John Dewey; contemporary theorists on states and societies Benedict Anderson, James Scott, and Jurgen Habermas; moral philosopher (and longshoreman) Eric Hoffer; and theolegian Reinhold Niebuhr.
I share Niebuhr's pragmatic belief that while we must recognise our limitations—understanding the difference between what we can and cannot do—cynicism mustn't stop us from trying to make the world better.