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Michael Williams Honored with NATO-Fulbright Security Studies Award

July 25, 2023

He will spend four months conducting research and teaching in Brussels, Belgium.

Michael John Williams

Michael J. Williams


Michael Williams, associate professor of public administration and international affairs and director of the master of arts in international relations program, has received a Fulbright-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Security Studies Award.

The award, offered in partnership with NATO and the Fulbright Commission, will support Williams on a four-month research trip to Brussels, Belgium, beginning this September. Hosted at the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Brussels School of Governance, he will advance his research on NATO-Russia. Brussels is home to NATO headquarters.

Williams’ research project is titled “Origins of War: NATO-Russia Relations, 1989-2022.” He says it involves three strands of work. “The first will be collecting an oral history from individuals at NATO to document how the alliance has worked to coordinate assistance to Ukraine and respond to the crisis,” he says. “The second strand of research will look at the role of ideology in the war, and how the spread of liberal democracy in Europe is perceived in authoritarian states, such as Russia and further abroad in China. And, finally, I will be doing archival research on nuclear weapons in NATO.”

Williams hopes that his work will result in a written history of the decline in productive NATO-Russian relations to show that Russia’s war is not the result of NATO expansion, but rather, due to the homegrown advance of liberal democratic politics in central and eastern Europe. Previous realist approaches deny the agency of people in central and eastern Europe, specifically around the revolutionary grassroots politics in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan in the 2000s, he says, adding that Russian policy is driven by the threat of similar democratic revolutions at home rather than NATO expansion.

Williams is frequently cited by the media for his subject-area expertise, and he has published numerous journal articles and op-ed pieces. He directs the International Affairs Series offered by the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, which is housed at the Maxwell School. Additionally, he is a fellow of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society and the Royal Society for the Arts as well as a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. Recently, he was elected to the Governing Council of the International Studies Association and the Executive Committee of the Governing Council for 2023-24.

He received a Ph.D. at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2006.

By Jewell Bohlinger

Published in the Fall 2023 issue of the Maxwell Perspective


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