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Faculty Forum

Dr. Joshua Gellers

College of Arts and Sciences • Political Science and Public Administration

Dr.  Josh Gellers, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, teaches courses in comparative politics and international relations including Introduction to International Relations, International Environmental Politics, Politics of Developing Countries, Comparative Politics and International Relations Theory.   


Gellers’ primary research has focused on the origins and impact of environmental rights, and more recently, on the environmental politics in the developing world. In Xi’an, China, Gellers is currently examining whether environmental practices in developing states impact the distribution of Chinese foreign investment. Next year, he will spend four months in Sri Lanka under a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar Award to study public participation in environmental decision-making.

Get to Know Dr. Joshua Gellers
  • Describe your teaching style.
    My teaching style is dynamic. I try my best so that no two classes in a row are held in the same format (i.e. lecture, film, discussion, simulation, etc.). This requires more work upfront, but it helps to ensure that the classroom environment won’t grow stale and students will stay engaged. I also try to incorporate technology whenever possible. In the past, I have had students deliver TED-style talks using a variety of presentation platforms, used Twitter to tweet out student questions, communicated with students via WeChat, pulled images from Instagram and articles from Facebook, and shown videos from YouTube and Netflix. My next challenge will be to develop assignments that require the use of social media applications like Snapchat.
  • What is your personal philosophy?
    My personal philosophy is “The wheel that squeaks the loudest gets the grease.” I don’t believe that opportunity knocks randomly on your door; you have to put in work in order to get on people’s radar screens. Practically, this means that students should attend events that interest them, network, talk to people whom they admire, read e-mails, follow up with contacts, speak with professors during office hours, and promote all the great things they do. With the advent of social media, it’s even easier now than ever before to build a presence and let the world know who you are and what sets you apart from others. Opportunities will follow.
  • What advice would you give a student who is about to graduate?
    Transitioning from college to the real world doesn’t have to be a shock to your senses, and there is no set timeframe to which you must adhere (although student loan agencies will certainly care about your ability to begin paying them back). Let your passion guide your next steps in life, whether you find yourself in graduate school, the working world or traversing a distant land. When you find out what drives you, it will help you to choose a path that leads to a rewarding career that excites you, as opposed to a job you perform for want of a paycheck. You won’t find the perfect fit right away, but each experience will lead you ever closer to finding your life’s calling.
  • What’s one thing in your field of study that people might not know?
    The United States, which in some areas is considered an environmental leader, does not have environmental rights at the national level. Several U.S. states have adopted environmental rights within their respective constitutions, however.
  • If you could witness any historical event, what would it be and why?
    I would witness the debate over the first draft of the proposed Constitution of the United States in 1787. The document has since shaped the trajectory of our country, and become a model for the rest of the world. I would be particularly interested in the Founders’ private conversations about the original intent behind certain key phrases that have been interpreted in alternate ways throughout the Supreme Court’s history. To get even a glimpse of the true meaning behind controversial clauses would be absolutely fascinating, and lay much judicial agonizing to rest.
  • Do you have a favorite spot on campus?
    My favorite spot on campus is the first reading room on the third floor of the Thomas G. Carpenter Library. It’s quiet, bright, and you can see the vast expanse of natural beauty surrounding the campus every time you look up!
Dr. Joshua Gellers, political science
Let your passion guide your next steps in life ... You won't find the perfect fit right away, but each experience will lead you ever closer to finding your life's calling.