Scholar Profile: Jentleson on the Integration of Policy and Academia

Today’s Talker: Bruce Jentleson, Professor of Public Policy and Political Science

As a two-time State Department official, Bruce Jentleson has been a  fixture around the nation’s capitol for over a decade. But on one recent Friday afternoon, Washington, DC, was just another stop in a busy fall – one that includes teaching two classes on campus, developing a MOOC which started Oct. 20, promoting the most recent edition of his textbook, and addressing numerous media requests.  What brought this foreign-policy expert into the Duke in Washington office? Read on to find out:


Bruce Jentleson, professor of public policy and political science

DiW: What was on your schedule today?
Jentleson:  A meeting with State Department contractors, so I could participate in a utility analysis of the ongoing Syrian conflict. In the exercise, I was evaluating possible strategies for successful diplomacy to provide a resolution and government transition. I identified stakeholders – whether they were internal, regional, or global – and analyzed their negotiating position.

DiW: Sounds like quite the exercise. Why did the group ask you in particular to participate in this analysis?
Jentleson: Because of my career experiences, I have the ability to take scholarly knowledge and apply it to practical and specific policy. It’s different than someone who’s just been in an academic setting – I have an integrated sense of how the policy and academic worlds interact.

DiW: It’s clear you’ve made a conscious decision to engage in both the policy and academic worlds. Why is that? Why keep up this pace?
Jentleson: Because I enjoy what I do. I like everything about being a professor and I’ve always believed in the benefits in linking the academic and policy worlds. My academic training gives me a distinct perspective on things like public opinion. I see things numbers not just as polls but as larger patterns. And being engaged in policy makes me a better teacher, a better professor.