Cynthia Hody received her doctorate (1986) in political science from UCLA. An Associate Professor, Dr. Hody joined the UMBC faculty in 1984. She is the Department’s Undergraduate Program Director and since 1995 she has served as the Faculty Advisor to UMBC’s Model UN Chapter. She is a Presidential Teaching Professor (2005-2007) and the author of The Politics of Trade: American Political Development and Foreign Economic Policy and The Politics of Change: The Transformation of the Former Soviet Union.
Q: What led you to become a political scientist?
A: Politics and history have always fascinated me. I grew up during the 1960s; my mother was (still is) a diehard liberal Democrat while my father was a Rockefeller Republican. I grew up debating the Vietnam War, bussing in Detroit (my father was from Detroit), and the ABM Treaty. When I entered college I knew I would major in either history or political science. Ultimately, I chose political science because at the undergraduate level I found political science courses more challenge and besides my second, interdisciplinary major in international relations required quite a lot of history anyway.
Q: What kinds of research questions are most interesting to you?
A: My graduate work in international relations came to focus on issues of international political economy (IPE). IPE emerged in the 1970s as a subfield of international relations, itself a subfield of political science. Over the years, however, I have come to appreciate political economy as its own discipline. I am very interested in questions that explore the intersection of politics, the domain of power and economics, that of exchange.
Q: What ideas, skills, or experiences do you hope students will come away with after having taken a class with you?
A: Having taken my classes, students will come away with a greater understanding and appreciation of our discipline’s unifying concept: power. They will learn that the ability to compel (i.e., power) is multifaceted, that it comes in different forms, can be relational or structural, and is applied differently in the contexts of domestic and world politics. They will come to appreciate that the collective interest is always greater than the aggregate sum of its individual parts and that it is only realized through politics. They will come to appreciate that the relationship between politics (the state) and economics (the market) is never a settled question. That discussion must be on-going.
Q: What can POLI majors do with their degrees?
A: Students who I keep in touch with pursue many careers. What follows is a small sample: a sustainable development strategist with an insurance consortium in London, UK; a CEO of a health policy consulting firm; analysts in the GAO, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and FAA; secondary school teachers and administrators; public interest lawyers; journalists for a variety of outlets; and professors of international relations.