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Paul C. Avey

Paul Avey, Associate Professor

Paul Avey, Associate Professor

Department of Political Science
220 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-6078 |

Paul Avey is an associate professor of political science at Virginia Tech.

His research and teaching interests include nuclear politics, U.S. foreign policy, strategy, and international relations theory. He is the author of Tempting Fate: Why Nonnuclear States Confront Nuclear Opponents (Cornell University Press, 2019), and author or coauthor of articles in International Security, Security Studies, International Studies Quarterly, Texas National Security Review, Journal of Global Security Studies, and Foreign Policy.

Avey was a 2018-2019 Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow based at the U.S. Department of Defense, serving as Advisor for Strategy in the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development. Before coming to Virginia Tech, Avey was a pre-doctoral fellow with the Managing the Atom project and International Security Program at Harvard’s Belfer Center for International Studies, a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at MIT, and a postdoctoral fellow with the Tower Center for Political Studies at SMU. He earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from the University of Notre Dame, an M.A. in social sciences from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in political science and history from the University of Iowa.



  • International relations
  • Nuclear strategy and politics
  • U.S. foreign policy
  • Policy engagement
  • PhD, Political Science, University of Notre Dame, 2013
  • MA, Political Science, University of Notre Dame, 2010
  • MA, Social Sciences, University of Chicago, 2006
  • BA, Political Science and History, University of Iowa, 2005


Tempting Fate: Why Nonnuclear States Confront Nuclear Opponents (Cornell University Press, 2019) 

Journal Articles

“Narrowing the Academic-Policy Divide: Will New Media Bridge the Gap?” Political Science Quarterly, forthcoming. With Michael C. Desch, Ana Petrova, and Steven L. Wilson.

“Does Social Science Inform Foreign Policy? Evidence from a Survey of U.S. National Security, Trade, and Development Officials,” International Studies Quarterly (July 2021). With Michael C. Desch, Eric Parajon, Susan Peterson, Ryan Powers, and Michael J. Tierney.

“MAD and Taboo: U.S. Expert Views on Nuclear Deterrence, Coercion, and Non-Use Norms,” Foreign Policy Analysis, Vol. 17, No. 2 (April 2021).

“Disentangling Grand Strategy: International Relations Theory and U.S. Grand Strategy” Texas National Security Review Vol. 2, No. 1 (November 2018). With Jonathan N. Markowitz and Robert J. Reardon.

“The Historical Rarity of Foreign-Deployed Nuclear Weapon Crises,” Security Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1 (January – March 2018).

“Do U.S. Troop Withdrawals Cause Instability? Evidence from Two Exogenous Shocks on the Korean Peninsula,” Journal of Global Security Studies, Vol 3, No. 1 (January 2018). With Jonathan N. Markowitz and Robert J. Reardon.

“Who’s Afraid of the Bomb? The Role of Nuclear Non-Use Norms in Confrontations between Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Opponents,” Security Studies, Vol. 24, No. 4 (October – December 2015)

“What Do Policymakers Want from Us? Results from a Survey of Current and Former National Security Decision-makers,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 58, No. 2 (June 2014). With Michael C. Desch.

Paul C. Avey “Confronting Soviet Power: U.S. Policy during the Early Cold War,” International Security, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Spring 2012).

Book Chapters

“U.S. Policy on the Road to Berlin: The Role of Ideology and Power” in John M. Schuessler, Adam R. Seipp, and Thomas D. Sullivan, eds., The Berlin Airlift and the Making of the Cold War (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, forthcoming).

“The Bumpy Road to a ‘Science’ of Nuclear Strategy,” in Daniel Maliniak, Susan Peterson, Ryan Powers, and Mike J. Tierney eds., Bridging the Theory-Practice Divide in International Relations (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2020). With Michael C. Desch.

Select Commentary

“The Icebreaker Gap Doesn’t Mean America is Losing in the Arctic,” War on the Rocks, November 28, 2019.

“How We Should Deal with North Korea,” The Roanoke Times, August 23, 2017.

“Political Science and Policy: It Ain’t Just Academic,” War on the Rocks, September 29, 2014.

  • Council on Foreign Relations, International Affairs Fellowship, 2018-2019
  • Course Development Grant, Stanton Foundation, 2016
  • Mentoring Project for New Faculty Members, Virginia Tech, 2016
  • (With Michael C. Desch and Peter Campbell) Renewal Grant for “Beyond the Cult of the Irrelevant,” Carnegie Corporation of New York, 2015-2017
  • Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, John G. Tower Center for Political Studies, Southern Methodist University, 2014 – 2015
  • Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2013-2014
  • Pre-doctoral Research Fellow, Managing the Atom/International Security Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2012-2013


  • Introduction to World Politics (2054)
  • National Security (3734)
  • National Security Policies (3736)
  • Nuclear Strategy and Politics (3194)
  • Security Studies: Theory and Concepts (3104)
  • Strategies of Modern Warfare (3135)


  • National Security (6254)

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