IC: What is your current research, what do you teach and what influenced you to become a professor?
NM: I just recently finished a large research project on nuclear proliferation that resulted in a book; and, I am now starting on a new book that focuses on contemporary wars and why we are now involved in a series of wars that don’t seem to end. Specifically, I am interested in how war has changed so that conflicts stretch on for long periods of time. I teach two classes and usually discuss topics that have to do with theories of international politics and questions of international security. In general, I am also very interested in philosophical questions on how we can “know” things about world politics.
In terms of what influenced me to become a professor, before coming to the United States, I worked in a number of organizations and always felt that I didn’t have the time to think through things deeply and rigorously. That was my main drive: to grasp how things work, rather than just move from one topic to the next in a series of half-hour meetings as we often do in our professional lives.
IC: So based on what you described, and as a Catholic, how does your faith intersect with your academic work and how has your faith influenced what you do in academia?
NM: There are at least two intersections. First, my scholarship. I study topics of war and peace and these topics have profound theological connections. The problem of evil and the persistence of evil are crucial in both theology and political science. As Catholics should we withdraw to the monastery? Or do we try to fight evil? In my research, I think through the problems of world politics often through a moral lens that is compatible with, and partly based on, Christian teachings.
The second aspect is in my teaching. Although many people in my field think that having an immediate policy impact is very important, I believe the longer-term, deeper way to have policy impact is to be generous with the time and attention one devotes to students. Because one’s students, particularly at a place like Yale, have a lot of leadership potential. And I try to help them in their quest to better understand the world, to form a worldview that will then inform their policy decisions—without imposing my worldview on them.
IC: You appear to be very busy with your teaching and scholarship. What do you do to relax?
NM: I like cinema and I try to watch as much and as widely as I can. I also enjoy travel. I travel for two specific purposes. First, I like to go to the seaside for a couple weeks a year to collect my thoughts and enjoy my family. I like the idea of not having to make any decisions while I am on vacation. I stay at the same hotel and go to the same restaurants. I also travel to see art. I go to the big destinations according to the artists and museums I want to see next. I try to better understand the world through appreciating art, which I think is a very important lens.
Nuno Monteiro is Director of International Security Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University. Dr. Monteiro’s research focuses on International Relations theory and security studies. To learn more about Dr. Monteiro, visit: http://www.nunomonteiro.org/