Brian Bow, associate professor

A day in the life

Brian Bow, associate professor


My crisis simulation exercises are a lot of fun. We've had some amazing last-minute breakthroughs, a couple of attempted coups, and even a sickening slide into war.

Diplomatic relations

Associate Professor Brian Bow traded one coast for the other when he came to teach at Dal. Originally from Vancouver, Dr. Bow dropped out of business administration at Simon Fraser University, flew to the U.K., bought an old VW van, and drove around Europe for six months. His timing was impeccable and set him on course to a career in political science.

“It was 1989 and the Berlin Wall was coming down,” he says. “It was hard not to get excited about international politics. When I got back, I did a year in Political Science at University of Western Ontario. Then I finished my BA in International Relations at UBC, did an MA in Political Science at York University, and my PhD in Government at Cornell University.”

After finishing his PhD, Dr. Bow was teaching at Cornell University in its "Cornell in Washington" program when he was offered a position at Dal in 2004.

“I actually got the call right after the ‘White Juan’ blizzard had buried Halifax with 10 feet of snow,” he says. “I remember sitting down in my old apartment in Washington—where it was already turning to spring—and seeing the pictures of White Juan on the TV news, and thinking, ‘Do I really want to go back up to Canada?’ ”

Dr. Bow’s expertise centres on Canada-U.S. relations and Canadian foreign policy, but lately he’s been doing more research into regional dynamics within North America as a whole, including Mexico. For the fall 2011 term, he’s introducing a new course, The Politics of North America (POLI 4512/5512), that, “straddles the line between international relations and comparative politics, and features a mix of theory, history, and contemporary policy controversies.”

But his favourite course to teach is Diplomacy and Negotiation (POLI 3581), because of the wide variety of students it attracts and the lively discussion it generates.

“In my crisis simulation exercises, students are assigned to specific roles within three different fictional governments, and thrown into a hypothetical crisis scenario," he says. "After three hours on the edge and the frenzied bargaining that always erupts in the last 15 minutes, the students usually leave exhausted but happy with the experience. And the quality of the reports they’ve written afterward lets me know that they’ve learned something as well."

See Dr. Bow's profile for an overview of his current research.