Adam Irish, Mellon postdoctoral fellow in political science

Professor Adam Irish has been accepted this year as a Mellon postdoctoral fellow in Political Science and International Relations. The program seems to be a perfect fit for the professor, who claims that he is “just as much as teacher as I am a researcher”.

Irish, who grew up in Michigan, knew from a young age that he wanted to be a professor. After receiving  his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of Michigan, Irish spent two years in Las Vegas as part of the Teach for America program, a nonprofit that brings young teachers to children in low-income neighborhoods.

He later went to graduate school at the University of Illinois, where he received his Ph.D. in Political Science, before going on to teach international law at Georgetown University just last year. At Wheaton, Professor Irish teaches International Politics and will be teaching International Law next semester.

Despite having ample time set aside for his research, he makes sure to fit in some fun as well. Irish welcomes his students to play cribbage, a British card game, during his office hours. He uses the game as an opportunity for his classes to earn pizza, if they can beat him.

Professor Irish became interested in political science during his sophomore year of college, right after the attacks on Sept. 11. His political science professor at the time was a major influence.

“He gave a lecture where he likened the crime of terrorism to the crime of bank robbery, and he used that analogy to talk about the policy implications for what we could do,” said Professor Irish. “I just knew after that lecture that I wanted to be able to do what he does”.

Specifically, Irish is intensely interested in the intersection of international law and international politics. He focused his dissertation on how international treaties are made, why some countries ratify them and how long it takes the countries to do so. Currently, he is researching environmental policies in different countries. As a professor, Irish describes himself as “somebody who is interested in not only explaining how politics works, but also how teaching works.”

He previously worked at the Center for Teaching Excellence in Illinois, where he trained incoming teaching assistants. Now, Irish plans to work innovative teaching methods into his classes, such as a writing workshop next semester in which students will have a chance to get feedback from peers on their papers.

In addition to his other published works,  Irish hopes to publish a book on international law and politics and another on teaching methods in the social sciences. In the long term, he hopes to continue doing what he loves, which is, most of all, teaching.