Political Science PhD Lives His Passion

Arnaud Kurze’s road to his PhD started at the University of Hagen in Germany. He was working on his master’s and was intent on finding the perfect doctorate program. An advisor suggested he look into George Mason University’s then-brand new Political Science program, and he was instantly hooked.

The Political Science PhD program at George Mason was up-and-coming and vibrant,” says Arnaud. “It also had a great faculty-student ratio, which was really key for me intellectually and academically.”

Also crucial, Mason was willing to credit Arnaud for courses he had already taken back home – a huge benefit that opened doors to broader studies.

“With a lot of U.S. schools, it’s, ‘nope, we have our core requirements’,” Arnaud notes. “Mason worked with me to integrate courses I had already taken, even though they were in German. This was a two-way street: I worked with Mason and took one theory class I didn’t have to take, but it was a great experience that allowed me to study more postmodern issues.”

In addition, Arnaud recalls receiving hefty support from his department in the way of funding to attend conferences, presenting research, and providing vital employment opportunities that have shaped his current career: He is the Assistant Professor for Justice Studies at Montclair State University as well as co-founder of A to Z Website Design.

“I took over a class in my first year, so I was able to gain valuable teaching experience as an adjunct,” Arnaud explains. “I also got a position as a managing editor for the Center for Global Studies, where I learned editing and design; I have my own website business now thanks to the skills I acquired at Mason.”

Arnaud’s position at Montclair is a perfect fit: He wanted to live in New York City, and he wanted to teach, but not in a 9-to-5 capacity. Montclair – just an hour’s commute into New Jersey – selected Arnaud from over 100 candidates for an assistant professorship in transnational and global justice, his specialty. The job requires him to be on campus just a few days a week, freeing up space for his research goals, travel, and other pursuits.

“I started working at Montclair in fall 2014, and I’ve been happy ever since,” says Arnaud. “They gave me a lot of startup funds and a big budget to conduct research. I was just in Egypt, and last year I was in Egypt and Tunisia; but I continue to be loyal to my first love, the Balkans, and will teach a summer course there on transitional justice and the politics of memory.”

Arnaud is eager to credit Mason for its role in his success. Besides the backing from his department, dissertation advisors, and faculty, he remembers fondly his association with his peers – a diverse yet cohesive bunch, many of whom brought practical experience from the field to the classroom.

“I’m still in touch with my friends and colleagues,” Arnaud says, adding that he’s pleased to be able to report these words back to them: “I have a passion, and I found a way to live it.”