Will Walldorf

Walldorf headshot

Associate Professor

Office: Kirby 302
Phone: 758-3499
Email: walldocw@wfu.edu

Areas of Expertise: International Security, US Foreign Policy, Grand Strategy, and Culture and Politics


Will Walldorf  is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest University.  His latest book, To Shape Our World For Good:  Master Narratives and Forceful Regime Change in United States Foreign Policy, 1900-2011 (Cornell University Press, 2019), explores the ways that broad, public narratives drive major U.S. foreign policy decisions about forceful regime change.  He is also the author of Just Politics:  Human Rights and the Foreign Policy of Great Powers (Cornell University Press, 2008), which won the 2010 International Studies Association ISSS Award for the best book on international security.  Will has published on the topics related to United States foreign policy and grand strategy in Security Studies, The European Journal of International Relations, and Political Science Quarterly, Washington Quarterly, National Interest, and Huffington Post.  He is also co-editor of the Oxford Companion to American Politics. 

Currently, Will is working on two book projects that stem from his work on narratives, one related to U.S. forever wars in the Middle East and another on the domestic legitimacy of tools of statecraft in U.S. foreign policy from 1900 to the present. Will received his BA from Bowdoin College and his MA and PhD in Politics from the University of Virginia. He has held postdoctoral fellowships at Dartmouth College and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He taught at Gordon College, Dartmouth College, the University of Virginia, and Auburn University before coming to Wake Forest.


BA    Bowdoin College, 1990
MA   University of Virginia, 1996
PhD  University of Virginia, 2002

Academic Appointments

Associate Professor, Wake Forest University, 2009-present
Assistant Professor, Auburn University, 2006-2009
Assistant Professor, Gordon College, Department of Political Studies, 2004-2006




POL 116   International Relations

We live in a world of great change.  Globalization, the dramatic end to decades of cold war and the rise of non-state challenges, like terrorism and global warming, speak to this reality. Yet, at the same time, we find constant reminders that problems such as competition, conflict, war and famine, which have plagued international politics since its inception, have not receded — in some cases, they have intensified.  This course is intended to give students the tools for recognizing and understanding both change and consistency in international relations.  It does so by, first, offering a broad introduction of diplomatic history from the Peloponnesian War to the current day, emphasizing trends in both international security and political economy.  Second, the course introduces social scientific theories that seek to explain various phenomena in international relations with the intention of both sharpening the analytical tools of students and preparing them for further study in international relations and political science, more broadly.

POL 252  Perspectives on International Relations

Why do states fight wars?  Why do long, enduring conflicts like the Cold War, suddenly end, sometimes peacefully and sometimes with military confrontation?  Why are states interested in human rights at some points in history but not others?  How do states simultaneously cooperate on some international trade issues and face great contestation on others?  These questions comprise major issues with which scholars of international relations have struggled for decades.  This class is intended to introduce students to the competing theories that international relations scholars offer to questions like these.  In this light, the central objective of this class is to develop an understanding of how these different theories explain international politics and to assess which seem more or less persuasive.  This task has beneficial ramifications beyond merely learning different schools of thought on international politics.  It develops skills for thinking critically about the deeper assumptions that underlie the ways that we and others look at and assess the world.  The abstract and theoretical also point us in the direction of developing practical policy solutions to pressing issues.  While there are no prerequisites for this class, it is strongly recommended that you take POL 116 or another international relations class in the department before taking this course.

POL 254  American Foreign Policy: Contemporary Issues

Today, the United States stands as the greatest military, economic, and cultural power on the face of the earth.  This presents both great responsibility and, potentially, great danger.  How should America use its power?  What is the best way to promote its interests and respect those of others in the international system?  This course is intended to address questions like these.  It does so in two different ways.  The first part of the class focuses on the underlying causes of U.S. behavior.  Drawing upon theories of international relations and examples from various historical cases, we explore the international, economic, domestic institutional, and domestic values that have determined U.S. foreign policy decisions in the last century.  The final portion of the course turns to questions of what ought to determine U.S. foreign policy.  The focus here is on debates over the course of contemporary policy.  We explore both the broad contours of these debates as well as apply them to concrete issues and places, like humanitarian intervention, terrorism, and Iraq, that stand at the center of U.S. foreign policy today.

POL 256  International Security

This course examines contemporary problems of war and peace in historical and theoretical perspective.  What have been the causes of war in the past and what can we learn from those wars for today?  To what degree have nuclear weapons changed the international system?  Will international relations be more or less peaceful in the future than they were in the past?  This course explores several major theoretical explanations for war, then uses these theories to explore World War I, the Second World War in Europe, and the Pacific War between the United States and Japan.  The course then turns to the dawn of the nuclear era and focuses on contemporary security challenges, from the issue of nuclear proliferation to countering terrorism.

POL 291:  Research Design and Qualitative Analysis

This course introduces students to research design and the use of qualitative methods such as survey methods, content analysis, field research and literature reviews.

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