Professor Davis practiced law for several years before earning his Ph.D. and joining UMBC in 2002. He has published two books on human rights enforcement with Cambridge University Press, and has recently published several papers on counter-terrorism and human rights. Professor Davis teaches human rights law, international law, civil rights and several other classes. He also serves as UMBC’s pre-law advisor.
Q: What led you to become a political scientist?
A: When I was 12 years old I joined Amnesty International at the international school I attended in Copenhagen. I have been passionate about human rights and politics ever since. As a practicing lawyer, I was far more interested in exploring constitutional and international law research questions than in the nuts and bolts of day-to-day litigation. More than anything, though, it was my love of teaching that drew me to academia.
Q: What kinds of research questions are most interesting to you?
A: I am interested in research questions that explore how lawyers, activists, and courts can effectively enforce human rights law – especially in the most challenging areas such as post-conflict transitions and counter-terrorism. I analyze the legal and political factors that influence the extent to which domestic, regional, and international courts embrace or reject human rights law.
Q: What ideas, skills, or experiences do you hope students will come away with after having taken a class with you?
A: My students learn to craft legal and political arguments both in writing and in class discussions. They develop their ability to critically analyze legal and political material. They are exposed to the struggle for justice and human rights in the United States and around the world. They are challenged to analyze broad, interdependent concepts of justice and human rights based on global and comparative studies.
Q: What can POLI majors do with their degrees?
A: POLI graduates can change the world by working for advocacy groups, the federal or state government, or in foreign service. They can work with large companies or start-ups in government relations and statistical analysis. POLI graduates can pursue graduate degrees or, of course, go to law school. Over the past three years our students have been admitted to law schools with scholarships at UVA, Stanford, Michigan, Northwestern, William and Mary, Penn, Notre Dame, UCLA, UMB, and UB among other excellent schools.