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Christianna Leahy, Ph.D.

An expert in international politics who encourages students to participate in their communities locally and globally.

World-wise | Inspiring | Active
Christianna Leahy, professor of Political Science and International Studies, is an expert in human rights, revolutions, international humanitarian law, and European politics. In her over 35-year career at McDaniel, she has led liberal arts students in the classroom and on international study abroad journeys to learn how to become change agents in the world. Leahy holds a B.A. from American University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Politics from Georgetown University.
What’s your background? Where were you before McDaniel and when did you start here?

My undergraduate studies were in the School of International Service at American University, where I had free tuition due to tuition exchange with my father’s university in Indiana. I stayed in Washington, D.C., in order to be in the heart of political affairs both domestic and international. I went on to the School of Foreign Service and the Department of Government at Georgetown University, where I received my master’s degree and Ph.D.

While finishing my dissertation, I was hired by then Western Maryland College in a tenure-track position in 1984. I finished my dissertation and received my Ph.D. in 1989.

What opportunities should Political Science students get involved with on the Hill?

The Department of Political Science and International Studies at McDaniel College provides a plethora of experiential learning opportunities for our students. We offer four simulations in which students travel with faculty to national and international simulations of the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League, and the Maryland Student Legislature. We also have a program for National Security Fellows, for which we have many speakers from the field come to campus each semester.

The internships that students have obtained through the networks from all of these opportunities lead to jobs that students secure from those internships. We have had students become members of the U.S. House of Representatives, chiefs of staff to U.S. Senators, national security agents, FBI agents, as well as many who work for non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and Mercy Corps.

What have you enjoyed most during your time at McDaniel?

I have most enjoyed the long, close, personal relationships that I have maintained with my students over the many years of teaching here. I have students from 38 years ago with whom I am still in contact. One of my mentees is a department chair, tenured professor, and winner of her university’s Distinguished Teaching Award. I just recently gave a talk at her university to 400 students for the Model U.N. that she runs there. I have another former student who went on to get his Ph.D. at Cambridge University in the U.K. with whom I am still in contact, and many, many more.

I have enjoyed taking students to D.C. each year for the Model European Union and conferences. I have also very much enjoyed traveling with students to the former Soviet Union (under Gorbachev), to Cuba (after the collapse of the Soviet Union), to Berlin, and most recently to Ireland. I enjoyed my time teaching at our campus in Budapest, Hungary, as well, and I encourage students to take advantage of our campus there in the heart of Europe that offers all of our courses — plus financial aid transfers there seamlessly.

What do you hope students take away from your courses?
What I have tried to do in the past 38 years of teaching is to impart the values of participatory engagement in governance and the will to be change agents in the world (be it in their communities at home, or as citizens of the world). I share with them the ethos of Margaret Mead, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” As well as the ethos of Albert Camus, “Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children.”

About Prof. Leahy

Professor of Political Science and International Studies
Subject: Humanitarian Law, European politics, human rights, conflict resolution
Department: Political Science and International Studies