Faculty Interview Series: An Interview with Dr. Tammy Schultz, SSP Adjunct Professor

By: Olga Novitsky, Reporter

Dr. Schultz is originally from Denver, Colorado. She graduated summa cum laude from Regis University with degrees in Political Science and English in 1995, and also completed Master’s degrees at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and SAIS at Johns Hopkins University. She received her PhD from Georgetown University in 2005 with a dissertation on how the Army and Marine Corps had (or had not) adapted to stability operations.

Dr. Schultz has previously worked at the US Army’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute in Carlisle, PA and served as a Fellow at both Brookings and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). She will be teaching a section of SEST-710, the Research Seminar, for the Fall 2016 semester. In this installment of the Faculty Interview Series, Dr. Schultz sits down with the GSSR to share her insights on research, teaching, and work outside of SSP.

What has your career track been like outside of SSP?

Most of my career has been with the US military in some fashion… [Now] I am a Professor of Strategic Studies and the Director of National Security & Joint Warfare at the US Marine Corps War College (MCWAR). We are the smallest of the war colleges with only 30 students, but these students are elite: Lieutenant Colonels or Colonels and their civilian and international counterparts.

How did you come to be a professor at SSP? 

Dan Byman was my dissertation committee’s chair. He was also the head of SSP. About ten years ago, SSP needed a class on Ethnic Conflict & Civil War. I jumped at the chance as I’ve always enjoyed teaching.

You’ve worked with the military, as a fellow at CNAS and Brookings, and now academia. What would you say is the main difference between these work environments?

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by good military people most of my life, and one thing good leaders do is take responsibility for all actions in their department.  I’ve been around some good civilians as well, but it seems that the willingness to take responsibility is deeper in the armed services.

What are some classes you teach or have taught apart from the research seminar? Do you have a favorite? 

At MCWAR, I teach many classes on ‘national security and joint warfare,’ [which is] also the title of the department I head. Ethnic Conflict & Civil War is my other class at Georgetown.

As stupid as it sounds, it is kind of like picking a favorite kid – depends upon the day and the year.  They all have different things to commend them.

Apart from teaching, are you currently working on anything?

I’m co-authoring a book with Ray DuBois at CSIS on the importance of civilian leadership in the Pentagon. I basically had the idea for this book because I want something at a higher level than Assignment Pentagon but not pie in the sky theoretical conjectures, either, to assign at MCWAR. Since such a book doesn’t exist, we are going to write it.

When it comes to writing a book, what are the easiest and hardest parts of the process?

The easiest part about it is the interviews and reading.  In fact, it’s easy to get stuck in the research part, and not pick up a pen until you ‘know more.’  At some point, though, you have to just write.  Another SSP instructor, Liz Stanley, gave me the advice to ‘pay myself first’ and just write for 30 minutes a day.  Getting in that habit makes the hard part, writing, easier.

Why did you decide to teach a thesis seminar? 

For many reasons. First, I really like learning about different topics that students bring to the table. Second, it is my experience that graduate students underestimate the power of their voice and ability to get published. Several students in my thesis class have gotten published, including in peer-reviewed journals. Third, writing is such a crucial skill and not enough professors take the time to actually push students’ writing abilities. I get why – doing so is extremely time intensive. But given the state of writing these days, it is one of my most important jobs. Every year, I get a few e-mails from former students who share how becoming a better writer has impacted their work. I love hearing that, especially when I have a huge stack of thesis drafts to go through. It keeps me going.

What are some of your general research interests?

I honestly have a pretty wide net for what interests me that students want to research. I’ve never told someone that they need to find another professor because I’m not interested in their topic.

Lastly, what is one major takeaway from SSP that you’d like your students to graduate with?

As I say in my classes, I hope they take something from the subject matter that we’re studying, but at the end of the day, I really just want them to be better thinkers, writers, and speakers.  If they can do those three things well, they will be ahead of most of the pack.

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