Walker is considered an expert on Turkey and the Middle East. Recent articles include:

Joshua Walker graduated magna cum laude in 2003 with a double major in leadership studies and international economics. After graduation, he spent a year as a resident Fulbright Scholar and teaching assistant at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. He speaks fluent Turkish and Japanese as well as basic Dutch. Walker earned a master’s degree in international relations from Yale University and completed his Ph.D. in politics and public policy at Princeton University, where he was a teaching assistant in courses in international relations, history and politics.This interview about his teaching style and approach was posted in 2010.

When you reflect on your Jepson education, international and global contexts, and your own path and study, what key thoughts come to mind?

Given the interdisciplinary nature of the Jepson education I was always intrigued by the intersection of international contexts and leadership studies. As part of my Jepson experience I studied abroad for one semester to research European Union integration and got a chance to understand different political systems and leadership outside of the United States. My senior thesis was on the evolution of Turkey and the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, which subsequently laid the foundation for the Fulbright project I worked on for a year while I was in Turkey after I graduated from Jepson. Perhaps because of my own background and experience at Richmond it always seemed like a natural fit for international and leadership studies to go together.

In spring semester 2010, you are teaching "Leadership in International Contexts." How will you approach that topic?

I will be approaching the course both from the perspective of a scholar trained in international relations and also a Jepson student who took the course and gained tremendously from it. The ideal teacher for me is not the one who only lectures, but the one who thinks together with his students. Almost anyone can teach students to gather and remember information. For me, in my teaching of international relations in general and leadership studies in particular, the challenge lies in moving beyond the level of information to the higher levels of understanding and knowledge. I see myself as a scholar-teacher and infuse much of my own research interest into the way I teach my courses. I want to be a model for students in the way I behave and act as an instructor, mentor, writer and scholar. I do not see a rigid dividing line between research and teaching.

Good teachers need to be at the cutting edge of recent scholarship, in order to help students see the dynamism of our work. Social science is not a collection of facts, but rather an area of research that is still alive with puzzles, contradictions and new areas of inquiry. I try to "demystify" the course materials for my students, by encouraging them to discover the excitement that can be found in researching the political world. I hope that through this course leadership in international contexts becomes alive and students begin to live and breathe the material we will be working through.

What will be the structure of the course?

Interaction and simulation will be key components to the course once the basic material is covered. I hope to use the first half of the course to present and outline as many issues areas, theories and concepts as possible to lay a foundation. Then, I hope to take these issues and apply them to particular regional and geographic areas. As part of this, students will be working on a semester-long project that they will have a chance to present at the end of the course.

Tell us about your travel and study abroad experiences and your expertise, and how you will share your personal experiences and knowledge with your students.

Having been fortunate enough to spend a considerable amount of time overseas from my own background and education, I hope to use my own experiences as a way to connect the abstract and theoretical issues we will be working through with the practical and personal. I spent my formative years growing up in Japan, where my family still lives and received my translation license at 16. After graduating from Richmond, I pursued further research on my Jepson thesis through a Fulbright Fellowship in Turkey, which led to positions at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara and then in Washington. As a result, I have a unique understanding of the Japanese and Turkish cultures, languages and nations, which I have put to extensive use in my research and throughout my academic career.

How has majoring in leadership studies influenced you?

I think the greatest influence it has had is through the self-confidence that comes from having to clearly articulate what you studied. Saying I majored in leadership studies is not as easy as saying economics or political science, but it allows you to really highlight your unique education and sell your experience in a fresh way. More than anything the connections with faculty and the confidence I gained through doing independent research propelled me in the subsequent research and projects I’ve worked on. Also learning how to work within a group was an invaluable experience for me that paid off in many different ways in both my academic and professional career.

In addition to teaching, what else are you working on?

I am also a fellow at the Transatlantic Academy at the German Marshall Fund in Washington working on Turkey and its neighborhood. I’m finishing up a book with my colleagues and will be presenting my research at several international conferences and forums.