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Martin Mendoza-Botelho - Professor, Political Science, Philosophy and Geography

Ph.D., University of Cambridge


Martin Mendoza-BotelhoHow did you end up at Eastern?

“I grew up in Bolivia and got my first degree in Economics at the Catholic University there. My first job was working for the United Nations Children’s Fund, eventually becoming a junior program officer coordinating health and education programs in Bolivia. Later I received a scholarship to earn my master’s degree in economic development at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

“I moved to the United States and worked for the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. I eventually ended up working for the Organization of American States in Washington, DC, for five years. I returned to England to earn my Ph.D. in political science at the University of Cambridge. Before coming to Eastern, I taught at the University of Michigan and for five years at Tulane University in New Orleans.

“One of the reasons that lead me to accept an academic position at Eastern back in 2013 was the fact that our university is a public institution and I am believer in education as a social good. Eastern’s role as a public university is in tune with my values, and believe a good fit for me as an educator.”

What is your favorite course to teach?

“I don’t have a favorite topic. To me, all my courses offer me the chance to enjoy watching our students gain maturity in their worldview. For many students, my International Politics course is the first exposure they have to a global perspective in our complex world.  It is fun to witness students as their ideas mature, which allows the discussion to go further in depth on topics of international significance. Another course that I regularly teach is Latin American politics — the region where I am from — and can draw from my personal experience to inform our class discussions. Our upper-level seminars are also enjoyable because they allow for meaningful and mature discussions on issues that all of us care about — for instance, in my seminar The Politics of Peace students explore the perennial question of what makes peace durable and practical.”

Research interests

“My research focuses on economic and political institutions and how they impact and shape societies. This is a broad topic and my work ranges from constitutional reforms, social policies, the welfare state as a provider of services, the role of the state, political economy and the democratization of societies. I focus on Latin America and my homeland of Bolivia, but I have also traveled to Spain, South Africa, Iceland and Norway to conduct research.”

What do you like most about teaching at Eastern?

“Our students are very motivated. I enjoy seeing them progress during their time at Eastern. Whether it’s local politics, the environment or national politics, they move from simpler understanding to a more complex perspective. Their thinking becomes more sophisticated and balanced.”

Our students are very motivated. I enjoy seeing them progress during their time at Eastern. Whether it’s local politics, the environment or national politics, they move from simpler understanding to a more complex perspective. Their thinking becomes more sophisticated and balanced.

Martin Mendoza-Botelho teaching class

What is your teaching philosophy?

“In the field of political science, we must accept that, as humans, we are all biased towards our own experience, culture, background and ideology. For instance, in the matter of war and peace, we tend to pick one side or the other, reducing our views to a black and white perspective. But our world is more complex than that. My job is to help students recognize the complexities of human nature and multiple viewpoints. ‘Why is the other side acting and thinking in the way they are?’ I try to get my students to understand that there are two sides to each coin and we need to take the time to learn both. Our progress as civilization depends on citizens who are open to consider ideas and opposing perspectives to their own.”

Memorable moments at Eastern?

“One of the first things I had to do during my first year at Eastern was to introduce former UN Ambassador and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for a lecture on our campus. It was an honor and a landmark moment, considering the iconic and historical status of this individual who still has a mark in our societies. I have also been fortunate to have received a CSU research award and several CSU research grants, allowing me to share my experiences and my research as a keynote speaker at several events in Connecticut.”

Career advice to students

“I would encourage students not to limit themselves, especially first-generation ones. We are fortunate that Eastern offers a wide array of intellectual and professional opportunities, and students certainly should take ad advantage of those. My advice would be for them to build strong professional profiles while at Eastern and that will give them better choices after graduation.”

Life advice to graduates

“Never stop learning nor be curious about the world. Value knowledge and cultures of all types and be true to yourself. Pursue careers and activities that have meaning to your life, you will not regret walking this path.”

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Thank you for your valuable help with the many questions I have had since enrolling at Eastern. Your responses have been timely and have had an impact on my education. Your patience and understanding are appreciated.
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