Politics and International Relations

  • Ben Pfeifer

Ben Pfeifer

What do you currently do?

I am beginning an M.A. in Global Governance, Politics, and Security at American University in Washington D.C. Prior to that, I was a Signals Intelligence Analyst and sergeant with the United States Army.

How do you see the connection between the time you spent as a Politics/IR major and what you’ve been able to do since?

My time spent as a politics/I.R. major at Ursinus provided me with an incredibly versatile set of tools that I was able to apply both professionally in the field of intelligence and now academically as a student once again. The professors in the politics/IR department consistently encouraged us to examine causes of and solutions to problems in the IR sphere and to evaluate each other’s opinions critically and impartially. In addition, the open forums of most classes allowed other students and sometimes professors to question and challenge our stances which required us to be prepared to defend our conclusions and train of thought in a clear and concise manner. This practice connected directly to being an effective intelligence analyst with the US Army. A good analyst needs to be able to process a tremendous amount of information, decide which pieces are most valuable, draw informed conclusions, and then be able to defend that conclusion from informed criticism. All of these were skills practiced at Ursinus and the politics department in particular. Another lesson drawn from Ursinus for my work in intel is acknowledging flaws or mistakes in your own conclusions. A group of people may all get the same set of information for a scenario and each individual may draw a different conclusion. The dialogue encouraged at Ursinus particularly in the politics department, made me acutely aware that often others conclusions, or a combination of others, are correct and therefore more capable of learning from those around me.

What advice do you have for students currently majoring in, or considering to major in Politics or IR?

Engage as much as possible in classes and with professors. There is so much more opportunity to learn if you make your voice heard while also listening to those around you. The level of discourse in the classrooms of Ursinus, particularly in the politics department, is rare and valuable. In addition, I highly recommend studying abroad if possible, altering your perspective always provides new insight and one of the most effective ways to do that is to put yourself in a different nation and/or culture’s shoes.