InsideODU: News for Faculty and Staff
Thursday, January 26, 2012

ODU's Yetiv Is Winner of Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award

Steve Yetiv, a professor of political science at Old Dominion University who has conducted research and written extensively about international relations and foreign policy, is among the 2012 recipients of the Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award sponsored by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

Inaugurated in 1986, the Outstanding Faculty Awards are the commonwealth's highest honor for faculty at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities. These awards recognize "superior accomplishments in teaching, research and public service."

Yetiv is ODU's 26th winner since 1991, when sociologist Karen Polonko brought the university its first SCHEV faculty award, and only the fifth political scientist to win in Virginia's vaunted university system in the past 14 years. During those two decades, only the College of William and Mary has won more Virginia Outstanding Faculty Awards.

Twelve faculty members at colleges and universities in Virginia were chosen for the 2012 awards from among a record 125 nominees. Each recipient will receive an engraved award and a check for $5,000 underwritten by the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources. The awards presentation ceremony will be in Richmond on Feb. 16.

"Steve Yetiv exemplifies the teacher-scholar role of the ODU faculty by making his scholarly research accessible, interesting and relevant to his students and to the community at large," Provost Carol Simpson said. "He truly is a most outstanding faculty member."

Yetiv, who was designated as a University Professor at Old Dominion in 2010, joined the faculty in 1993 following a postdoctoral position in international affairs at Harvard University (1990-93).

In the words of Joseph Nye, former U.S. under secretary of defense; director, National Intelligence Council; and dean, John F. Kennedy School of Government; and current professor, Harvard University, "Yetiv won two awards for excellence in teaching at Harvard University but he is also strong in research. Steve's overall output and quality is very impressive, measured against high-level competition. In brief, Steve has attained a worthy national reputation and I am delighted to recommend him."

Yetiv's research focuses on three areas related to national and international security: global energy and American foreign policy; U.S. decision-making and foreign policy in the Middle East; and the link between globalization and national security (in particular that of the United States).

His contributions to the area of discovery have garnered two coveted Choice Outstanding Academic Book awards from the American Library Association, the Scholars Award from the Virginia Social Science Association and the Burgess Award for Outstanding Scholarship from ODU's College of Arts and Letters. He has published six major books and numerous journal articles.

Scholars have found Yetiv's "Explaining Foreign Policy" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004; 2nd ed., 2011) to be potentially one of the most important contributions to the field of foreign policy in the past 35 years. The book has been used at more than 45 universities, including Yale, Georgetown, Cornell and the University of St. Andrews. His most recent book, "The Petroleum Triangle" (Cornell University Press, 2011), draws on an array of data and evidence to find that Middle East oil and globalization have combined to augment the real and perceived threat of transnational terrorism.

Patrick James, professor and director, Center for International Studies, University of Southern California, and former vice president, International Studies Association, noted: "As a scholar, I regard Steve Yetiv as world class. This is indicated by novel, heavy volume research, including four top 10-ranked university press books in the past seven years. Because he is world class, he certainly deserves recognition within his own state of Virginia. His novel book on U.S. grand strategy, like other works by him, reveals an extraordinary ability to engage in historical and theoretical analysis that is rigorous and relevant to present concerns."

Yetiv has won numerous teaching awards over the past 20 years and has worked hard to become a public intellectual, extending the classroom to a much larger national and global audience. In the classroom, he helps students improve their analytical skills through hypothesis-building and testing, while pushing them hard to think about real-world problems.

For example, students in his International Relations Theory class are required to create hypotheses tied to modern world affairs, which are then tested according to seven criteria for a good hypothesis. Yetiv encourages historic and contemporary applications, requiring knowledge of theory, history and modern cases and how they inform each other. As one student noted, class discussions were "very good at making me think about the applications of theories to real-world situations past and present." Another student described Yetiv as a "fantastic teacher whose exceptional awareness of current application and emerging concepts kept the course material interesting and helped to maintain high motivation in the classroom."

Yetiv brings his own real-world experience to teaching. This includes drawing on his research, consulting with the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, international travel to more than 20 countries, and media contributions ranging from the Christian Science Monitor to NPR to CNN. A two-time finalist from ODU for the Virginia Outstanding Faculty Awards, he appears regularly in the media and has published more than 250 opinion/editorial pieces.

Yetiv's experience, high-level contacts and scholarship facilitate efforts to teach students real-world decision-making and problem-solving. He puts students in the position of being consultants, based in part on his knowledge and experience of what consultants do.

For instance, he tasked students in his Energy and Globalization class with creating a comprehensive U.S. energy policy. They identified criteria for judging various energy solutions ranging from biofuels to nuclear power, with Yetiv pushing them to sharpen real-life thinking skills. As one student put it, "Dr. Yetiv is the perfect Socratic teacher who pushes us with his questioning."

Yetiv also works to advance the careers of his graduate students through collaborations on research projects. To date, his students have co-authored 14 journal articles with him.

To view Yetiv's nomination packet, visit

The following colleges and universities also had winners this year: George Mason University (two), Washington & Lee University (two), Hampton University, James Madison University, Marymount University, Norfolk State University, Northern Virginia Community College, Randolph-Macon College and University of Richmond.

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