Though the 2010-11 school year is his first at Grand Valley State University, international relations professor Thomas Walker is anything but inexperienced.
Walker, who lived in Grand Rapids until he was 12, has returned home after most recently teaching at Dartmouth College. His own education brought him around the country and overseas. He earned a bachelor of arts in history from the University of Michigan, his master’s in international relations from Kent University in Canterbury, England and his doctorate in political science from Rutgers University.
Unable to resist the allure of coming back home, Walker said his first tour on a visit to GVSU was enough to persuade him to apply for the job.
“I was really impressed when I came here with the quality of the students,” Walker said. “They put me in a room with undergrads, which I was impressed with. Normally, you meet with all the faculty members and you may meet with some graduate students, so meeting with the undergrads showed me Grand Valley really values education.”
Walker’s time in England allowed him to analyze the differences between the education systems of the U.S. and abroad.
Walker implemented some of the ideas he learned at Kent into his own teaching policy. He draws more from history than current events for his international relations classes but focuses on students understanding the crucial concepts of the field.
Walker stressed the need of international relations courses for a balanced education.
“As the world becomes more globalized and more complicated, you need tools to understand that,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine a good liberal arts education without some international relations classes.”