2017 Ann Gill Faculty Development Award Winner focuses research on U.S.-China relations

Headshot of Peter HarrisWhy can’t we be friends?

“I think that the rise of China is the most important event taking place right now,” explains Dr. Peter Harris, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and 2017 recipient of the Ann Gill Faculty Development Award. “China becoming an influential power in world politics is going to affect all of our lives over the course of this century.”

The Ann Gill Faculty Development Award, funded through Great Conversations membership gifts, supports innovative faculty scholarship and will serve to help Harris expand his research on the relationship between the United States and China. Thanks to the generosity of Great Conversations members, the impact of innovative faculty research like Harris’ can be felt in the CSU classroom and in the field on an international scale.

Harris’ work analyzes the relationship between the United States and China, as the way they “get along” could have a large impact on the future. His current research project, Why Can’t We Be Friends? The Domestic Barriers to a U.S.-China Grand Bargain, serves two purposes: to detail the scale of the challenge when it comes to ‘selling’ the conciliation of China to skeptical domestic audiences; and to make preliminary recommendations on how to overcome these international relations challenges.

Using this research, Harris hopes to solve the political policy puzzle to help avoid conflict between the U.S. and China. He seeks to uncover what the U.S. could do to keep relations peaceful and constructive. Additionally, Harris looks at the way China is framed in the United States’ political culture, and explains how it is often broadcasted in a negative light.

“The two countries are going to have a hard time getting along on a world stage is their respective populations and political leaders are in the habit of demonizing the other side,” Harris claims. In studying the possible policies that could be implemented to reduce the amount of negative connotations, Harris hopes that he will draw attention to the importance of establishing a constructive relationship with China.

Harris has brought his research in the classroom, sparking conversation with students, other academics, and the general voting population on the importance of U.S.-China relations.

“I would like my research to help spark a conversation about what we could all do to improve U.S.-China relations,” explains Harris. “The involvement of the public is crucial within our political system, and bringing this to the voting populations’ attention is extremely important regarding political policy on U.S.-China relations. I integrate this message into my teaching all the time and I hope that it’s a message that students take seriously.”

Ultimately, Harris’ research can be used as a tool for voters in making informed decisions regarding foreign relations policies. Thanks to Great Conversations members, Harris has the funding needed to bring national attention to this pressing issue.