The politcally driven Paul Kubicek

Jessica Leydet, Staff Intern

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Because the state of the world is constantly evolving, political science is a dynamic field to study and teach. Political science Professor Paul Kubicek is a firm believer and teacher of the idea that there is never a “right” answer for any given political issue.

Kubicek went to college at Georgetown University in Washington. After graduating, he passed the Foreign Service exam and was offered a job by the State Department. He decided to go to graduate school instead and finished his Ph.D at The University of Michigan in 1995.

“I started studying Russian. ” Kubicek said. “I remember the first year Russian classes were every day for two hours starting at 8 a.m. in part because Gorbachev had come to power and it seemed that interesting things were happening over there.” 

“I really enjoyed being engaged with global issues, and quickly realized that law school was not going to be a good fit for me.” 

After graduate school, Kubicek pursued what he refers to as the most significant experience in his career, teaching in Turkey from 1995-98. Even though the focus of his work was the former USSR and Eastern Europe, he developed a passing fascination with the country during the time he spent there.

“I have traveled all around Turkey, including near the border with Syria, and am really impressed by the culture, the history, the food, and the people and it still boggles my mind to think that I spent three years living there,” Kubicek said.

Most of Kubicek’s recent work has been on Turkey and academic work for scholarly journals; he has been a consultant for Freedom House, which publishes yearly rankings of countries based on their respect for political and civil rights.

“I really enjoy that it is meaningful, important work that is read by many, including, alas, the Turkish government, which is one reason why at present I would be persona non grata in Turkey,” Kubicek said.

His most recent book was on Islam and democracy, including a chapter on Turkey. It was an outgrowth both of wider debates about the compatibility of Islam and democracy, and discussions that came out of some of his political science classes. Kubicek said he is always supportive of student work and eager to help them explore questions that interest them.  

“I also encourage student research and have published three papers with OU students, on topics such as the EU’s policy in Darfur, Russian nationalism, and gender equality in Africa, the last of which was an entirely new topic for me,” he said.

Kubicek said he would like to believe his experience adds both to the course offerings in the department as well as other opportunities, such as OU’s Model United Nations club (MUN), which he started nine years ago and has grown into a success.. The club attends model United Nations Conferences each semester and sponsors events on campus to discuss and debate international issues.

“A lot of my energy now is directed at MUN, and I really enjoy seeing students take such an active interest in the club and be ambitious about what they want to do.” Kubicek said. “It was, for example, students who convinced me we could host a high school MUN conference on campus, and for the next couple of months we’ll be spending a lot of time getting ready for what is now the third ‘annual’ OUMUN conference this March,”