Dr. David Cupery, above, and his wife, Karen Ruiz Leon, the communications coordinator for MCLA’s Advancement Office, on a recent trip to Yangshuo, China.
New Political Science Prof Provides Global Perspectives
Fascinated by the cultural diversity and wide range of economic and social outcomes that exist across the globe, David Cupery, Ph.D. – MCLA’s newest assistant professor of political science – spent time abroad both before and after he graduated from college. It was the experiences he had overseas that convinced him of the importance of politics.
As a college student at a small liberal arts college – Centre College in Danville, Ky. – Cupery both appreciated and looked up to his professors. “They really invested in their students, and enjoyed what they did. I wanted to emulate them,” he said.
Now, “I’m very grateful and excited to have the chance to do that at MCLA,” Cupery said. “I hope students leave my classroom with the realization that the rest of world is worth understanding and that the process of doing so – while challenging – can be incredibly rewarding.”
After spending four months in Mexico as an undergraduate, Cupery was selected as Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. This allowed him to study, work and volunteer in Guayaquil, Ecuador, for two years.
“This experience reinforced my excitement about all things foreign; an excitement that I hope is felt in my classrooms,” he said.
Because he graduated from a liberal arts college, Cupery understands the great value of small classes, frequent faculty-student interactions and a tight-knit college community. “Teaching at MCLA allows me to work for an organization that shares my values, and to hopefully have the same positive impact on my students that my professors had on me.”
Cupery’s expertise is in comparative politics, international relations and research methodology.
“The United States is just one of close to 200 countries on the planet. In a world that is deeply interconnected through trade, immigration, travel, entertainment, etc., it pays to understand how other countries work and how the international system is structured,” Cupery said.
His research interests straddle the divide between comparative politics and international relations.
“For example, my dissertation studies how people across Latin America view the U.S. and China – the world’s (and the region’s) two most powerful countries – and how their leaders talk publicly about these two superpowers,” he said. “Another of my projects looks at the impact that international peacekeepers have on the economic recovery of countries that have recently experienced a civil war.”
This semester, he’s teaching introductory courses in “Comparative Government” and “International Relations.” In addition, he teaches an upper-level course on recent Latin American political history.
“Next semester, I will offer a course on the politics of Sub-Saharan Africa,” Cupery said. “Another course, which looks at the politics of conflict, will address both interstate and civil wars, while also looking at terrorism and organized crime.”
Because studying abroad provided Cupery with a transformative experience, he hopes to play a part in helping his students experience something similar by leading them on trips to countries that might include Cuba, Mexico and Ecuador.
Cupery earned a master’s degree in political science from the University of Colorado-Boulder, as well as a master’s degree in international sciences and diplomacy from the Instituto Superior de Posgrado en Ciencias at the Universidad de Guayaquil in Guayaquil, Ecuador, before completing his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado-Boulder.