John Dreyer is Associate Professor of Political Science in the Social Sciences department.
What’s your area of expertise? What do you primarily research and/or teach? And what drew you to this field?
I received my PhD in International Relations, and today I focus on strategy and International Security. Most of my research is currently focused on military advisors and how they have operated and what they have done for the last 150 years. It’s fun! My research also fills a niche in the field that is not well covered. My teaching is Foreign Policy/International Relations/Military History with some Political Ideology thrown in for good measure.
I chose Political Science because I liked the idea of theory and the boundaries it pushed. The subfield of International Security also appealed to me. I have taken an interest in military affairs for years and believed I might as well have a go at making it into a degree. I can write and teach about topics that I enjoy and bring that enjoyment to my courses.
What’s one of your favorite courses, topics, or specific texts to teach? Why?
Military history! This is a personal class for me. I’ve been devouring books on all manner of military history since I could read. Every year I choose books that I enjoy and that I believe my students will love as well. My favourite book that I used in 2021 was Ron Chernow’s Grant, which traces the evolution of one of America’s top leaders of all time. Another book I really enjoy using is Odd Arne Westad’s The Global Cold War and the Third World, which talks about small proxy conflicts and small states.
What’s something you’ve done that you’re really proud of?
In 2020 I received the US Army’s Patriotic Public Service award. The ROTC detachment awarded me this because of my teaching of military history and my staff rides to the Little Big Horn battlefield in Montana. I’m pretty proud of this, honestly, and sometimes I peek at the lapel pin when no one is looking.
Tell us about a book you’ve read recently, a movie you’ve seen recently, or another work of art or media you’ve engaged with recently that you really enjoyed and would like to recommend. Or: what is your favorite book, movie, or other work of art/media? Why?
I’m a pretty big fan of the Alien franchise. I’m very much a nuts-and-bolts sci-fi fan and the detail in the two movies (Yes, they only made two! Rumours of other sequels are false!) is great. The movies have cats, flamethrowers, space marines, and a level of detail that tickles the inner military nerd in me.
I also really enjoy Mystery Science Theater 3000. Making fun of crappy movies is a time-honored tradition and I can quote some episodes by heart. The best ones to check out are Riding with Death and Agent for H.A.R.M.
If I had to take five books to an island, I would probably hire a bigger ship. But my reading lately is based off these:
- Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
- Columbine by Dave Cullen
- Infantry Platoon and Squad, ATP-3-21.8 by the US Army’s TRADOC command
- Ashes Under Water: The SS Eastland and the Shipwreck That Shook America by Michael McCarthy
- Captain Francis Crozier: Last Man Standing? By Michael Smith
These books give a pretty decent look at my reading habits.
I am also a music fanatic! I tell people I like pretty much everything from K-Pop to Tyler Childs and beyond. I’ve lately been getting into early English punk like the Adverts, the Ruts and the Buzzcocks. My favorite band, however, will always be Clutch.
Tell us something about yourself outside of work. What do you enjoy doing? What’s a detail about you that your students might not already know?
I am a collector and historical reenactor. I collect militaria focusing on, well, anything that looks neat. I have a massive number of hats of all sorts. I enjoy cooking, focusing on street food and comfort food. I use themed cookbooks, including vintage military cookbooks and movie/science fiction themed. I’m also a board game enthusiast. I call myself a grognard, which means I play old and new war games with little paper counters.
Finally, here are two things students probably don’t know:
- My favorite Professional Wrestler is Britt Baker, DMD from AEW.
- I watch MRE tasting videos to relax.