Headshot of Alexander Cooley

Alexander Cooley

Claire Tow Professor of Political Science, 15th Director of Columbia University's Harriman Institute for the Study of Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe (2015-2021), Vice Provost for Academic Centers and Libraries (2022 - present)


Political Science


1118 Milstein Center

1225 IAB, 420 West 118th Street
By Appointment Only


International Relations


Alexander Cooley is the Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College. From 2015-2021 he served as the 15th Director of Columbia University's Harriman Institute for the Study of Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe.

Professor Cooley’s research examines how external actors—including emerging powers, international organizations, multinational companies, NGOs, and Western enablers of grand corruption—have influenced the development, governance and sovereignty of the former Soviet states, with a focus on Central Asia and the Caucasus. Cooley is the author and/or editor of eight academic books including, Dictators without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia (Yale University Press 2017), co-authored with John Heathershaw, and more recently, Exit from Hegemony: the Unravelling of the American Global Order (Oxford University Press, 2020), co-authored with Daniel Nexon. 

In addition to his academic research, Professor Cooley serves on several international advisory boards engaged with the region and has testified for the United States Congress and Helsinki Commission. Cooley's opinion pieces have appeared in New York Times, Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs and his research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Open Society Foundations, Carnegie Corporation, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States, among others. Cooley earned both his MA and Ph.D. from Columbia University.

  • MA, MPhil, PhD, Columbia University
  • B.A., Swarthmore College

  • External actors and regional relations in Eurasia and Central Asia
  • Emerging Powers and Global Governance
  • International Sovereignty and Limited Sovereignty
  • Politics of United States and Russian overseas military bases
  • Politics of International Rankings and Ratings 
  • Kleptocracy and Extraterriorial Authoritarianism
  • Western Values Advocacy in a Multipolar world

You will find selected syllabi published on-line.

  • HSPSGR 8445  Legacies of the Empire & Soviet Union
  • POLS BC 3805 Colloquium on International Organization
  • POLS W 4820 International Relations of a Post-Western World
  • INAF U 6570 Challenging Sovereignty in the Post-Communist States
  • POLS V 3615 Globalization and International Politics

In The News

A brand new pilot program this spring ushers in a new phase of lifelong learning and community at the College.

March 25, 2024

The political science major reflects on how her summer project — made possible by the alumnae network found on Barnard Connect — culminated in curiosity, activism, and mentorship. 

September 11, 2023