My name is James Garrison and I am from Detroit, United States, studying a Masters of International Relations (Advanced) / Graduate Certificate of Law.
I am a United States Army officer and I received a scholarship to study International Relations as part of the General Wayne A. Downing Program managed by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. I was extremely interested in studying overseas and I ended up selecting the ANU because of the school’s reputation, the Bell School staff and the family and professional advantages of living in Canberra. The program at the Bell School also provided a good blend of the British and American approaches to this field of study.
I most enjoyed completing my thesis as it allowed me to apply the skills that I acquired earlier in the program to a puzzle that appealed to me intellectually and professionally with more intimate guidance from a professor of my choice.
I also loved Mat Davies’ International Relations Theory course. He clearly places a lot of priority on teaching and gave lectures that challenged me intellectually. Feng Zhang’s course on the Chinese Theory of International Relations was my favorite course in my first semester. He is one of the world’s acknowledged experts on the topic and the small class size made for an excellent learning environment. Finally, I really appreciated the flexibility which most professors granted us when it came to research assignments. I was able to develop my own question or channel an open-ended one into an area of particular interest for me on almost every occasion.
After I complete the Graduate Certificate of Law program I will head back to the United States where I will continue to serve in the armed forces. I will return to the armed forces with a much better understanding of the forces which shape the environments that I will be working in. The research which I undertook as part of my thesis will be particularly relevant as I return to a unit tasked with operations in the Middle East. I have also improved significantly as a writer - a skill which will serve me well as I continue in my career.
Read about James in the article From the frontline to first-class Masters by ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.