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Dr. Alexandra Liebich

Dr. Alexandra Liebich

I am a PhD candidate in Comparative Politics & International Relations, and Teaching Fellow in the Department of Political Studies, Queen’s University. I am fascinated by how states and societies deal with the diversity inherent within them (i.e. cultural, ethnic, linguistic diversity); and how diversity is “managed” (or mismanaged) in different domains and institutions—particularly in education, government, and media. In other words, diversity is a reality in the contemporary world—how do individuals, groups, organizations, and countries deal with this? Both at the level of elite politics and in everyday life?

My research interests lie in the following areas: nationalism, ethnicity, minority-state (inter-ethnic) relations, institutional design, the politics of education, and conflict management in divided societies. I am also interested in the history of Eastern Europe, and the study of Comparative Politics as a field. My primary regional focus is post-communist Europe and the post-Soviet space; a secondary region is the Middle East. My research is broadly comparative in scope but comprised of case studies with which I have more nuanced familiarity: Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, and the Baltic states.

My thesis project is a comparative analysis of education policy & practice in post-communist Europe, with a focus on minority education. My work is driven by a belief in education as a vehicle for social and political transformation, or for maintenance of the status quo. I explore how education can contribute to peace, stability, and social cohesion while addressing the realities of diversity in multi-ethnic states.

There are fundamental links between nationalism and inter-ethnic relations, on the one hand, and the politics of education, on the other. Since as far back as Plato and Aristotle, philosophers have been telling us that if we wish to know about government and society, looking at education is a good place to start — that “what we want in the state, we must put into the school.”  Education is an institution and a means by which individuals and communities invest in their futures. It’s a place of identity formation, socialization of the next generation, and maintenance of culture and language over time. It is also a key domain of contestation in multi-ethnic settings, as school systems can reflect (and amplify) the attitudes, cleavages, inequalities, and power relations within a polity. Education matters for politics. Investigating debates over education can help us understand nation-building, cultural contestation, and the management of difference.

I have taught courses on Nationalism, the Politics of Ethnicity, and Comparative Politics. I have acted as a Teaching Assistant for courses in Research Methods, Democracy & Democratization, and Introductory Political Science. I am passionate about pedagogy, particularly at the level of higher education. I completed SGS*901: Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, and I have been involved with the Centre for Teaching & Learning at Queen’s. I have participated in workshops on themes such as: inquiry-based learning; active learning; integrity in teaching; curriculum development; inter-cultural communication; building students’ research competencies; and scholarship of teaching & learning [SOTL].

I am a CGS Bombardier Scholar, a EUSA Doctoral Fellow, and a member of the Association for the Study of Nationalities [ASN]. I am an Emerging Scholar with the Centre for the Study of Democracy & Diversity [CSDD], and a Researcher with the Divided Cities collaborative project at Queen’s. I have also contributed to a workshop on Migration, Citizenship, and Democratic Participation [MCDP] and the Laboratory on Ethnic Conflict Research [LECR].

I have experience conducting academic research (including extensive field research), and policy and applied research. I am committed to, and especially interested in mentorship, leadership, and professional development within academia. Through my doctoral work and other pursuits, I hope to continually engage in teaching, research, and the sharing of knowledge.