Connecticut College Magazine · Fall 2006


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When it comes to faculty-student research, they wrote the book.

When it comes to faculty-student research, they wrote the book.
A professor and student team up as co-authors

When it comes to faculty-student research, they wrote the book.

Lisa Brownell

When psychology major Justin Kaufman ´04 decided to register for a senior government seminar on “The Transformation of the World System,” Professor Alex Roberto Hybel gave him a stern warning: “You will find it extremely challenging.” Kaufman´s stubborn streak gained him a seat in that advanced seminar three years ago, but it also led to something he never could have foreseen: co-authoring a book on foreign policy with his professor.

The Bush Administrations and Saddam Hussein: Deciding on Conflict, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in October as part of a series on foreign policy analysis. The work, which analyzes the decision-making processes of the two Bush presidencies prior to the wars in Iraq, is the result of an intense, 18-month collaboration between the professor, author of four other works, and his former student. Although there have been numerous instances in the past when Connecticut College students have co-authored an article or presentation with their professor based on shared research, this is the first time that a student and professor have shared full co-authorship of a book.
Now living in New York City, Kaufman reflects on how he went from a student who was keeping up with the assigned reading to someone who helped research and write one of the same kinds of analytical works the class was studying.

“It all started with the midterm. Professor Hybel is famous for this particular exam. Students go into Fanning at 6 p.m., armed with food for a long night, and sometimes don´t come out until 6 a.m.,” says Kaufman. “He asks abstract questions that require you to think in a creative way.”

Three years later Hybel recalls the text of Kaufman´s post-midnight midterm as simply “extraordinary.” A week after the exam, he called Kaufman to his office and asked him what his plans were for the future. At that meeting, the government professor outlined the prospect of researching and writing a book together, and Kaufman began the project as an independent study the next semester. The student´s role was to start collecting data while Hybel was finishing another book.

In the fall of 2004, following his graduation, Kaufman and Tyler McGill ´05 relocated to Wisconsin where they ate in soup kitchens and visited homeless shelters with one mission in mind — to encourage homeless and low-income people to register to vote in the upcoming presidential election. Kaufman managed to keep up his research project with Hybel that fall, and the research, writing and editing continued for another year.

One of the advance readers for the manuscript was Judge Patricia Wald ´48, a member of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. She wrote: “Alex Roberto Hybel and Justin Matthew Kaufman combine analytical vigor and readable prose in this fascinating comparison of White House decision-making in the two Bush presidencies that resulted in two wars against Iraq, with very different results for America. Their dissection of the styles of Bush I and II, as well as the variations in the role of the intelligence community and the impact of prior war precedents in each episode, add immeasurably to the historical debate that will continue for years on what went wrong and why.”

Hybel is the Susan Eckert Lynch ´62 Professor of Government and has taught at Connecticut College for 15 years. He is working on his sixth book, Ideological Encounters.

An interdisciplinary thinker, Kaufman recently worked developing applications of artificial intelligence to game theory. He is now pursuing a music career with an alternative rock band named the Rideaways, who have just released a CD called “Traffic.”

Is his former professor disappointed that his co-author is writing songs rather than political analysis?

“Not at all,” says Hybel. “He writes great lyrics, too.”

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