Western Political Science PhD accepts tenure-track position at top-tier American university

April 14, 2022


Tyler Girard, PhD 2021, Political Science

Photo and story by Rob Rombouts

Tyler Girard (PhD 2021, Western Political Science) has accepted a tenure-track position at Purdue University in Indiana. Purdue is a Research-1 University, within the top-tier of American Universities. In Political Science, Purdue is a PhD granting department and among the world's best.

The appointment is a major accomplishment for a Canadian-trained Political Science PhD, and reflective of changes in the Department of Political Science at Western University.

“It's unheard of for a Research-1 American University to hire a Canadian Political Science PhD for a job in international relations and research methods, or for any poli sci job (for that matter) outside of the subfield of political theory,” said Matthew Lebo, chair of the department of Political Science. “American universities just don't hire Canadian PhDs because the methods training Canadian universities typically provide is inadequate relative to European and American universities.”

Girard has established himself as a talented young academic. In February 2021, while still a PhD student, he published a paper in the American Political Science Review. It was noted at the time that this was an important achievement for an early-career scholar, and reflective of the changes in the department. In November 2021, Girard received the Governor General Gold Medal for research into global financial policy and inclusion. The medal is the most prestigious award that a graduate can receive.

“His success is a testament to the recent changes we have made to our grad program, which places a strong emphasis on mentorship, methods training, publication and teaching opportunities, and financial support,” said Christopher Alcantara, chair of the graduate program in the department. “We really think Tyler landing this job is a "proof of concept" of what we are trying to do with our grad program and his success is a powerful testimonial to that idea.”

For his part, Girard highlighted how the department has helped prepare students for life after their studies.

“I’m thrilled to get the position. I think that the graduate program at Western set me up for success when I started applying for academic positions,” said Girard. “The department is really invested in the success of their students without necessarily having a narrow view of what success means.”

In the past few years, the department has hired more methods-focused academics – including Dave Armstrong, Evelyne Brie, Amanda Friesen, Zack Taylor, Mathieu Turgeon, and Lebo. This has allowed an expansion of methods training at the graduate level.

Girard said when he started his graduate studies, he did not have experiences in quantitative methods, but he was able to take advantage of the changes in the department to diversify his skills. He also benefited from training opportunities offered by the department and the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Western.

“The department was incredibly supportive as I explored new research ideas,” said Girard. “They made sure I had mentorship and support on the research side. This translated to having more success in the job market.”

For students considering their graduate studies, Girard said Political Science at Western is in a uniquely strong position.

“The faculty (at Western) are exceptionally well-qualified to cover a breadth of substantive topics and use a breadth of methodological approaches. The openness to approaches lends to supporting students to choose the right tool for the right question,” he said.

The community and size of the department give many opportunities for students which may not be available at other Canadian universities.

“The Department isn’t as big as some other schools, and this allows faculty to provide direct or personal support graduate student’s needs,” he said. “If I had the opportunity to do it all again, I wouldn’t second guess my choice of Western, for a moment.”