Scott McDonald

Scott McDonald


Fields of study

  • Political Systems and Theories
  • International Security Studies


United States

Why Fletcher?

I came to The Fletcher School because its interdisciplinary structure allows me to pursue my academic interests in a manner few other institutions would. My research focuses on the intersection of classical Chinese philosophy and contemporary foreign policy in the leadership of the People’s Republic of China. This topic straddles the academic and policy worlds in a manner that did not fit at many programs. At Fletcher I can approach this topic from the academic angle that interests me and am encouraged to draw conclusions that are relevant to the policy-makers, strategists, and planners in this field.

A favorite class

My favorite class is International Relations Theory. I am a political theorist at heart, but the introduction to international relations courses I took as an undergrad and masters student did not grab me the way this one has. Dr. Pfaltzgraff pioneered this course, not just at Fletcher but in the discipline. His knowledge, understanding, and love for the topic shine through both his delivery and engagement with the subject matter. Dr. Pfaltzgraff brings theoretical topics to life and makes them relevant to the study of international relations, and life in general, in a manner that few instructors can.

On expanding horizons 

Coming to The Fletcher School as a PhD student, I was worried that I was coming to a professional school, rather than an academic department. I feared that instead of a cadre of academically inclined students I would find a mob of bureaucrats seeking career enhancement. Fortunately, all those fears were misplaced. Fletcher students are engaged with ideas. They understand that they have a chance to shape the future and are hungry for the knowledge to make that possible. Whether I arrive early or leave late, there are always students around, alone and in groups, working on their next project, be it a tangible business plan or a theoretical paper. The place is abuzz with intellectual engagement.

    Education before Fletcher

    • Associate of Arts, Chinese Language, Monterey Peninsula College (Defense Language Institute)
    • Bachelor of Arts, International Relations, The George Washington University
    • Master of Arts, National Security Affairs, Naval Postgraduate School

    Experience before Fletcher

    • Military Professor, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu, HI
    • Strategic Analyst, Strategic Initiatives Group, HQ US Marine Corps, Washington, DC
    • Marine Corps Attaché, US Embassy, Canberra, Australia
    • American Institute in Taiwan, Taipei, Taiwan


    Chinese Mandarin, English