#ElliottExpert: Aaron Bateman

#ElliottExpert: Aaron Bateman

Professor Aaron Bateman smiles. He is wearing a pink patterned shirt.

Aaron Bateman is an assistant professor of history and international affairs and a core faculty member in the Space Policy Institute. He received his PhD in the history of science and technology from Johns Hopkins University. His forthcoming book explores how Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative shaped U.S. relations with both the Soviet Union and Western European allies in the final years of the Cold War. In other projects he is investigating the role of satellite technologies in intelligence and arms control verification. For the fall semester, he is teaching “Science, Technology, and Espionage” and “Spaceflight and the Modern World.” Prior to academia, he served as a U.S. Air Force intelligence officer with assignments at the National Security Agency and the Pentagon.

Hometown: San Diego

Program/Institute: The Space Policy Institute and the Department of History

Area(s) of expertise: History of Science and Technology, Technology and National Security, Military and Intelligence History, and Space Policy

Institutions Attended: Johns Hopkins University (PhD); Saint Mary’s University (MA); Saint Joseph’s University (BA); Kazan Federal University in the Russian Federation (certificate in Russian language)

Teaching courses this or next semester? I am teaching two courses in the fall: “Science, Technology and Espionage” and “Spaceflight and the Modern World.” In the spring I am teaching: “Science, Technology, and Global Statecraft.”

What made you interested in your area of expertise?

I have long been interested in the relationship between technology and national security. As a teenager, reading books by Tom Clancy led to my fascination with Russia and the Cold War. Subsequently, I read everything I could find on military strategy and intelligence.

What courses did you enjoy the most when you were a student and why?

As an undergraduate, I most enjoyed a course called “The Craft of Intelligence” that explored the role of intelligence in statecraft. The highlight of the course was a trip to CIA headquarters. During my doctoral studies, I especially enjoyed a seminar called “History of Science: Antiquity to Renaissance” because we delved into both the nature of scientific knowledge production and the ways in which scientific knowledge moves between different cultural contexts.

If you could make any book required reading for the incoming class, what book would you recommend and why?

It is extremely difficult for me to pick only one book to recommend. If forced to choose one, I would select Thomas Rid’s Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare because it is critical for students to understand what disinformation is and how it is used since combatting disinformation is one of the most pressing challenges in modern society.

What advice do you have for prospective students who are on the fence about applying to a graduate program at the Elliott school?  

I would advise students to consider the environment at the Elliott School, in addition to the many fantastic courses and fields of study. The Elliott School is unique because it offers students the opportunity to learn from world-class faculty, including many former practitioners. Elliott School faculty devote substantial time to advising and mentoring students outside of the classroom because we want to help our students achieve their educational and career goals as they prepare for post-graduation endeavors. Studying international affairs in the heart of DC offers students unparalleled opportunities to witness diplomacy in action and to secure internships and make professional connections that are oftentimes critical for students aiming to pursue careers in the international affairs arena.

If you could have dinner with any person from history, who would it be and why?

Field Marshall Garnet Wolseley who led the British armed forces 1895 to 1900. He played a key role in formulating British defense strategy in a time of rapidly changing technology and rising geopolitical tensions.

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The #ElliottExpert profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights current professors to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.