Faculty Interview Series: An Interview with Scott Harold, SSP Adjunct Professor

By Milica Cosic, Reporter

Professor Scott W. Harold joined Georgetown’s Security Studies Program as an adjunct professor in 2006, and has since taught courses on international relations theory and security in Asia, as well as the research seminar. He joined the RAND Corporation in 2008 as a specialist in Chinese foreign policy, East Asian security, and international affairs. Harold is currently working as a political scientist at RAND and serves as the Associate Director of the Center for Asia Pacific Policy. He is also a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Prior to joining RAND, Harold worked at the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center from 2006 to 2008 and taught Chinese politics at Columbia University. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

In this edition of the Faculty Interview Series, Professor Harold discusses his work, teaching style, and research interests with the GSSR.

What attracted you to SSP?

In 2006, Professor Dan Byman, who was the Director of SSP at the time, offered me a chance to teach Intro to IR Theory that Fall. Teaching that course was my first exposure to Georgetown University and the students in SSP. I regard SSP students as some of the brightest students I have ever met–they are hardworking, thoughtful, come from an array of diverse backgrounds, are engaged in interesting work, and embark on very diverse and interesting paths upon graduating from the program.

After that course finished, I lobbied Professor Byman for additional opportunities to continue teaching at Georgetown and he suggested I teach a course on security in Asia. I had such a great time teaching the course that I kept coming back!

What courses are you currently teaching at SSP?

I am teaching SEST-571: Security in East Asia this Summer, and SEST-710: Research Seminar in the Fall.

What does your day-to-day work look like as the Associate Director for the Center for Asia Pacific Policy and as a political scientist at RAND?

I wear two hats at RAND. As the Associate Director for the Center for Asia Pacific Policy, I support the Director by providing insight and guidance on how issues in the Asia Pacific region relate to national security. The Director is an economist by training with a focus on social policy issues and South Asia. I come in with a background on East Asia and national security. Together, we help RAND’s potential clients in the Asia Pacific understand what capabilities RAND can bring to the table to help them solve their most challenging public policy problems. Separately, we also recruit members for our center’s advisory board. The people we look to recruit are highly accomplished individuals who can assist RAND in making connections with potential clients in the Asia-Pacific and who can contribute resources to RAND that will be used for funding internal, cutting edge research.

Approximately 80% of my time is spent conducting research and analysis focusing on China, Japan, and Korea. Recent research topics I’ve worked on include Chinese soft power in Southeast Asia, assessing the prospect of establishing cyber norms with China, bolstering South Korea’s defenses, cooperation with Japan on cybersecurity, defense industrial issues, building partner capacity in SE Asia, shared perspectives on China and Korea, and post-Fukushima nuclear disaster preparedness.

To help students who are thinking about what topic they might want to write about for 710, could you tell us what security issue in Asia needs more attention in your view?

I would encourage students with a diverse array of research interests to enroll in my course. SEST-710 is a process course that enables you to learn how to conduct research. It is helpful if students come in with a research question that they have a viewpoint on. If a topic is prominent in the news, it may increase the chance of publishing your research.

Interesting questions that relate to security issues in Asia could include:

  1. What kind of defense articles does Taiwan need?
  2. What explains Taiwan’s defense acquisition choices?
  3. Why has China shifted course and agreed to stop engaging in cyber espionage?

Interesting research topics from previous semesters include:

  1. The role of women in DDR
  2. Whether or not drone technology enables, and thereby incentivizes, policymakers to adopt a militarized approach
  3. Why personally-identifiable information in healthcare may be a target for malicious cyber actors
  4. Whether or not women should have a role in armed combat
  5. Assessing the operational value of military-to-military contact at the three- and four-star level between the US and China

If you could walk over to the Tombs right now, sit at the bar, and have a drink with any person from history – who would it be and why?

The answer I’d like to give is Secretary Hillary Clinton because I think she is very interesting and historically important. It would be great if Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawking, and President Barack Obama joined, too. I love speaking with individuals who are intellectual and progressively-minded.

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