Alexander Cooley

Claire Tow Professor of Political Science and Director of The Harriman Institute for the Study of Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe.


International Relations

Alexander Cooley is the Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and Director of Columbia University's Harriman Institute (2016-18). He also serves on Columbia University's Tenure Review Advisory Committee (2017-20).

Professor Cooley’s research examines how external actors have shaped the development and sovereignty of the former Soviet states, with a focus on Central Asia and the Caucasus. He is author and/or editor of six academic books.

Great Games examines US-Russia-China competition for influence in Central Asia and was described by Asia Policy as "possibly the most cogent critique of post-Cold War orthodoxy published to date." Reviews: NYRB, Asia Policy roundtable, Foreign Affairs, Survival, LSE Review of Books.His most recent book Dictators without Borders explores the rise of "extraterriorial authoritarianism" and how Western professionals support the transnational networks of Central Asian elites. CFR podcast, RFE/RL podcastForeign Affairs, Times Literary Supplement.

In addition to his academic research, Professor Cooley serves on several international advisory boards and has testified for the United States Congress and the US-China Economic and Security Review 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. 

Academic Focus: 

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


Courses Offered

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




Office Hours: 

As of July 1, 2015:
1214 IAB, 420 West 118th Street




MA, MPhil, PhD, Columbia University

B.A., Swarthmore College

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