Professor Spotlight: Paul Fritz From MD to PhD
Paul Fritz is an associate professor of political science in the Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs. Photo Courtesy of Aoife Maher Ryan
Associate Professor of political science Paul Fritz was in his office when he received a call from Dean Benjamin Rifkin announcing that he had been named the Peter Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs Teacher of the Year.
“I wasn’t allowed to say anything until the official announcement came out, so there was an email sent out to all Hofstra faculty. Then it was a flood of emails from colleagues, friends and students after that, and it was really nice,” Fritz said.
Fritz, who had once envisioned himself becoming a doctor as an undergraduate at the University of Dayton, is on a different path since changing his mind after taking a political science course.
“It was a class on American politics, and it excited me. I realized I had a real passion for politics in general. I was always interested in it, but I didn’t realize I could study it, so after that class, I was hooked.”
Fritz went on to pursue a Ph.D. in international relations at Ohio State University. His dissertation, “Prudence in Victory: The Management of Defeated Great Powers,” focused on great power wars and how the losers of those wars reacted to the war-ending settlements, aspects of which he’s still working on today.
Fritz spent a year at the University of Southern California as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for International Studies, where he was able to continue his research; however, he knew it would not be permanent. He considered other options, such as working for the Department of Defense or the CIA, but ultimately decided on academia. Fritz applied to 80 different schools for a full-time position in teaching before he received an offer. “I was lucky enough that Hofstra called me back,” he said.
Since starting at Hofstra in 2007, Fritz has taught a variety of courses in the political science department, most of which center on international politics and defense. In his time outside of class, Fritz is a mentor to students who want to craft their honors thesis project in the department.
“You get to see them really excited about a project and get to a completion, some of those students have gone on to graduate school or law school and used their thesis in different ways so that has been great,” Fritz said.
While at Hofstra, Fritz has employed two guiding principles in his teaching philosophy. The first is providing students with the opportunity to speak their mind. “I want to create an atmosphere in class where students feel free to share their thoughts and ideas if they want to.”
Another pillar in his teaching is maintaining a high level of empathy. “Empathy in the sense that this is new information for students a lot of the times and can be confusing and overwhelming, so they are going to struggle. Recognizing that they are going to struggle is important so that I’m there and can figure out ways to help them,” Fritz said.
“I realize not everybody is enthralled with my classes or sometimes it might be boring to some, but most of the time you see it click over the course of the semester, and that is really cool as a professor,” Fritz said. “That’s what keeps us going, I think. That’s the best thing about my job by far.”