Professor Michael Smith

Professor Michael Smith
Professor Michael Smith
Professor Michael Smith


Chair in International Relations

Email Address
Telephone Number
+44 (0)1224 272707
Office Address

Room F27, Edward Wright Building

School of Social Science


Professor Michael E. Smith joined the University of Aberdeen in 2010; prior to that he was a Reader in International Relations at the University of St Andrews and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of California (Irvine) as well as an MA in International Affairs from The George Washington University. He has been a Fulbright scholar to the European Union in Brussels, a Council for European Studies fellow, a visiting research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, a University of California Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation/MacArthur Foundation fellow, and a distinguished scholar at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies of the European University Institute in Italy. Professor Smith also was the founder and first co-chair of the “EU as a Global Actor” interest section of the European Union Studies Association (2003-07), and he is on the editorial boards of Contemporary Security Policy and European Security

His publications include two research monographs on European security with Cambridge University Press, one of the first comprehensive studies of the European Neighbourhood Policy, a 1,600-page edited compendium on European security studies, several award-winning journal articles, contributions to over twenty edited volumes, and an innovative research-focused textbook on international security studies. He has also served as an external reviewer for the Economic & Social Research Council (UK) and the Research Executive Agency of the EU (remotely and in Brussels), as an evaluator of academic programmes in the UK, and as a consultant to firms bidding for EU research contracts.


Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

2019 - 22       Head of Politics & International Relations

2017 - 22       Academic Line Manager, School of Social Science, Univ. of Aberdeen

2013 - 17       Director of Postgraduate Research Programmes, Dept. of Politics and IR, Univ. of Aberdeen

2011 - 14       Member, College of Arts & Social Sciences REF Committee, Univ. of Aberdeen

2010 - 14       Member, School of Social Sciences Research Committee, Univ. of Aberdeen

2010 - 14       Research Coordinator, Dept. of Politics & International Relations, Univ. of Aberdeen

2007 - 08       Program coordinator, MLitt in International Security, Univ. of St Andrews

2006 - 08       Member, Post-Graduate Committee, School of International Relations, Univ. of St Andrews

2004 - 05       Member of the Undergraduate Committee, Faculty Senate, GSU

2004 - 05       Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Political Science, GSU

2004 - 05       Member of the Executive Committee, Department of Political Science, GSU

2004 - 05       Member of the Core Curriculum Accreditation Committee, College of Arts & Sciences, GSU

2001 – 05       Fulbright Grant Programme Coordinator, College of Arts & Sciences, GSU

1999 – 05       Various faculty search committees, Department of Political Science, GSU

1998              Faculty search committee, Department of Politics & Society, UC Irvine

External Memberships

* Member, American Political Science Association (section memberships: European Politics & Society; International Security and Arms Control).

* Member, European Union Studies Association (section membership: EU as a Global Actor).

* Member, International Studies Association (section memberships: International Political Economy; International Organization; International Security).

* Member, University Association for Contemporary European Studies.

* Founder and first elected co-chair (2003-05; re-elected 2005-07), "The EU as a Global Actor" special interest section, European Union Studies Association.

* Contracted grant proposal reviewer for the European Research Council (2008 – 2013).

* Contracted expert for the EU Research Executive Agency (2013)

* Grant award rapporteur for the Economic and Social Research Council (UK)

* Article reviewer for: The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Comparative European Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Cooperation and Conflict, East European Politics, European Journal of International Relations, European Journal of International Security, European Journal of Political Research, European Political Science Review, European Politics & Society, European Security, European Union Politics, Europe-Asia Studies, Foreign Policy Analysis, Global Affairs, Global Policy, Global Society, Governance, International Relations, Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of Conflict Studies, Journal of European Integration, Journal of European Public PolicyNew Political Economy, The Political Chronicle, Political Studies, Political Studies Review, Politics and Governance, Public Policy and Administration, Review of International Political Economy, Review of International Studies, Sage Open, Security Studies, Swiss Political Science Review, Review of International Studies, and West European Politics.

* Book proposal/manuscript reviewer for: Cambridge University Press, Cornell University Press, Manchester University Press, Oxford University Press, Addison Wesley, Longman, Rowman-Littlefield, Palgrave-Macmillan, Prentice-Hall, and Routledge.

* Editorial board member, Journal of European Public Policy (2005-19); European Security (2009 – present); Contemporary Security Policy (2015-22).

* Visiting professor, College of Europe (Natolin, Poland); taught 'Perspectives on International & European Security' (2021-22)

* External programme reviewer (2015), MA in European Studies, University of Dundee.

* External Examiner (2007-2010), Department of European Politics, University of Bath.

* External PhD Examiner (2007-present), Univ. of Loughborough; Univ. of Lancaster; Univ. of Limerick; European University Institute.


Research Overview

International security; international cooperation/organization/institutions; conflict resolution; social/experiential learning; regional integration/governance; Europe/European Union; the international politics of science/technology.

Current Research

Most of Professor Smith’s theoretical work involves international cooperation, conflict resolution, and global governance in difficult issue-areas, particularly security and technology.  He pays special attention to the advanced industrialized democracies, particularly the US and Europe, and attempts to combine international-level theories of institution-building with domestic-level theories of state/societal politics (focused on social networks and learning) to explain how states manage (or fail to manage) their contemporary collective action problems. These problems include free-riding, political market failure, regulatory gaps, conflict or dispute resolution/mitigation, and the reduction of negative externalities such as environmental harm. Much of this work involves the European Union and the question of regional cooperation/integration, and Professor Smith is a widely cited expert on the EU's pursuit of a common foreign/security/defence policy.  One of his articles on the topic, which investigated the legalisation of European foreign policy cooperation, was awarded the best article of the year award from the Journal of Common Market Studies (2002). A second article of his, which proposed a theory of EU foreign policy-making, was awarded the most downloaded article of the year award from the Journal of European Public Policy (2007).  His book Europe's Foreign and Security Policy: The Institutionalization of Cooperation (Cambridge) is also a standard theoretical reference in the field.

Professor Smith also won one of the first major research awards from the EU's European Research Council in 2007; this grant funded a five-year project (2008-13) with over one million euros to investigate the rapid growth of EU crisis management/conflict resolution operations since 2003.  This work led to a related project of his on the EU's pursuit of a global/grand strategy, and his first article on this topic won the most downloaded article of the year award from the Journal of European Public Policy in 2014.  A research monograph based on the ERC-funded project, Europe's Common Security and Defence Policy: Capacity Building, Experiential Learning, and Institutional Change, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.  A follow-on project of his involves collaboration with a consortium (EU-CIVCAP) funded by the EU's Horizon2020 scheme; this three-year (2016-18) project investigates the EU's civilian capacities in the realm of conflict prevention and peacebuilding (see The purpose of EU-CIVCAP is threefold:

1. To assess EU civilian capabilities for external conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

2. To identify and document lessons learned and best practices in EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

3. To enhance future policy practice and research on EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

Professor Smith is responsible for the lessons learned and best practices component of EU-CIVCAP, as well as a report on future EU research priorities in this area.  In addition, he also recently edited a four-volume set for the Routledge Major Works collection of reference works; this project (approx. 1,600 pages) focuses on European Security and covers a wide range of traditional and new security issues. Finally, beyond his ongoing work on international/European security, Professor Smith is currently writing a book about the international political consequences of revolutionary technologies. This research develops a single analytical framework to explain the multiple political disputes and solutions generated by the development of five modern revolutionary technologies. Truly revolutionary technologies tend to inspire the same types of international collective action problems, ranging from disputes over property rights to incompatible networking standards to concerns about public safety and environmental harm. Yet the rules devised to manage these problems can vary widely depending on the specific technologies and stakeholders involved; this variance can be explained in terms of several general hypotheses examined throughout the volume. Findings from this project should enable us to predict the likely political consequences, and effective global management, of current and future revolutionary technologies.

Funding and Grants

2018                Robert Schuman Fellowship, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (European Univerity Institute, Florence). Project title: From the EU Global Strategy to a Security Union? Power, Institutions, and the Credibility Deficit.  €9,000.

2016-18           European Union Horizon2020 research grant: Preventing and Responding to Conflict: Developing EU Civilian Capacities for Sustainable Peace (consortium member).  Total award: €1,714,976 (my portion €141,738).

2014                Economic and Social Research Council (United Kingdom) research grant: Social Media - Developing Understanding, Infrastructure, and Engagement (co-investigator).  Total award: £550,000 (my portion £1,600).

2008–13          Starting Independent Researcher Grant, European Research Council: A European Approach to Conflict Resolution? Institutional Learning and the ESDP (primary investigator).  Total award: €1,019,029.

2008                Research grant, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (£1,800)

2006                Workshop funding, European Union Center of Syracuse University ($6,000)

2004-05           Workshop funding, European Union Center of the University System of Georgia ($10,000)

2004                Workshop funding, European Union Center of the University System of Georgia ($5,000)

2004                Workshop funding, European Union Centers of Syracuse University and the University System of Georgia ($26,000)

2001                Research grant, Swedish Government Information Service ($2,500)

2000                Research grant, European Union Center of the University System of Georgia ($1,500)

2000                Economic and Social Research Council (United Kingdom) research grant (participating investigator with Brian Salter), Innovative Health Technologies (Biotechnology) Program (my portion: $3,000)

1997-98           University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation/MacArthur Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, Regional Relations program ($16,000)

1997                University of California Regent's Dissertation Fellowship ($3,000)

1995-96           Fulbright Dissertation Fellowship, European Union program, Brussels ($15,000)

1993-95           Research Assistantships in European integration, Department of Politics and Society, UC-Irvine (various amounts)

1995                Council for European Studies pre-dissertation Fellowship ($3,000)

1991-93           Wolcott Foundation full tuition fellowship, George Washington University ($20,000)


Teaching Responsibilities

IR 3018: International Security (course coordinator/lecturer; from autumn 2013)

IR 4534: Science, Technology & International Relations (course coordinator/lecturer; from spring 2021)

PI 1018: Introduction to Politics & International Relations (lecturer and co-coordinator; from autumn 2015)


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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals