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Clunan Discusses Role as CCC Director

Article by Kate Lamar, Photo by Javier Chagoya

Posted March 29, 2010

Director Anne ClunanProfessor Anne Clunan, the new director of the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Center on Contemporary Conflict (CCC), first came to NPS in 2002, excited by the possibility of doing scholarly research with real-world policy relevance. Clunan’s affiliation with CCC developed out of her work at the NPS National Security Affairs (NSA) department. The center is the research arm of NSA. Clunan began collaborating with CCC on research projects shortly after coming onboard at NPS.

“What initially brought me to the Center on Contemporary Conflict was the opportunity to contribute to our understanding of how to manage the threat of bioterrorism,” Clunan said. “I was asked to co-lead the project on biological weapons attribution, and I was the lead editor of a book that resulted from that project.”

What began for Clunan as a love affair with teaching and research has blossomed into a leadership role within NPS that challenges her to partner with government agencies and decision makers to help produce scholarly research and practical policy findings. In October of last year, Clunan moved from simply contributing to the innovative research at CCC to guiding and supporting it as she took on her new role as director of the center.

 “I view my role at CCC as sort of a facilitator: I want to enhance research opportunities and research support for all faculty in the National Security Affairs Department,” said Clunan. “The vision of CCC to promote the research and expertise of NSA faculty is all a part of the aim of making NPS a top-tier research university as well as the nation’s national security university.”

Clunan has plans to improve the dissemination of CCC research outside of NPS.

“I believe my role is to make our faculty’s research available to the outside world through vehicles such as CCC’s online journal Strategic Insights as well as peer-reviewed publications,” said Clunan. “CCC is committed to not only increasing the amount of research sponsorship to NSA faculty, it is also seeks to ensure that its faculty are publishing their findings in peer-reviewed publications and that its faculty inform U.S. policy makers and defense practitioners.”

Clunan’s support of CCC’s research stems from her firm belief in the quality of research being done at the center.

“CCC’s greatest strength is the cutting-edge research being done by its faculty,” said Clunan. “The best part of my job is learning about all the fascinating research that my colleagues are doing. To take just a few examples, a CCC project led by Prof. Dan Moran on climate and energy has informed U.S. intelligence estimates of the security consequences of climate change. Strategic dialogues led by CCC faculty have also influenced the way U.S. and Pakistani officials understand each others’ interests.”

While Clunan’s current position has her focused on administration and leadership at the center, she remains a professor at heart.

“This year, I just finished up a project with Prof. Harold Trinkunas that examines the threats posed by ‘ungoverned spaces,’ which have become of increasing concern to policymakers in Washington and the international community,” Clunan said.

 “I also have a couple of books and articles in mind. I’m interested in analyzing how states are defining and responding to emerging threats, and this may end up being my next book. But I’m also very interested in extending my research on the role of national identity in security policy to countries other than Russia, so I’m engaged with scholars outside NPS in comparing Russia with China and a couple of other countries,” Clunan continued.

Clunan plans to return to teaching this quarter after taking a short break from teaching to focus on new CCC initiatives and partnership building.

“Teaching and research generally flow into each other, as I am always updating my course syllabi to reflect current research. My research influences my teaching, as I find new and interesting angles of teaching about events or theories,” Clunan said. “Every time I teach, I learn. It’s really that simple.”

For the future, Clunan plans to build upon the successes of past CCC directors by fostering relevant research, encouraging faculty publication, increasing sponsorship to CCC and delivering practical policy advice to U.S. leaders. 

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