Robert Ostergard, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Areas of Interest: International relations and security policy, comparative politics (regional focus on Africa), international political economy, civil-military relations and civil conflict.


M.A. (1996) and Ph.D. (1999) State University of New York, Binghamton, Political Science
B.A., University of Massachusetts, Political Science and Economics, 1992


Associate Professor Robert Ostergard is an international relations and comparative politics scholar whose research and teaching is centered broadly on the politics and security of developing states with special attention to Africa.

Prof. Ostergard is currently focused on in three broad areas of political violence, human rights, and international security issues. He is currently working on several projects in these areas that include the affect of intellectual property rights on human rights to health, political assassinations, military coups, women's rights and conflict in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. He is also researching with Christine Baker how multinational corporations that had investments with the South African apartheid regime may face reparations litigation in U.S. courts. 

“One project I'm working on deals with incentives in the International Patent system for pharmaceutical firms and how they relate to issues of human rights, particularly rights to health and medicine,” Ostergard said. “There are real implications for what I research. It draws attention to these topics.”

Though his work often relies on empirical modeling techniques, he often travels to Africa to conduct his research. He also works on collaborative projects with other political scientists in the department, including Leonard Weinberg, Bill Eubank, Stacy Gordon, and Derek Kauneckis. He has also conducted research with undergraduate and graduate students on a broad range of topics.

“I like working collaboratively with people, whether they be students or other faculty members; it helps to generate new ideas,” Ostergard said.

Ostergard's research and teaching in political science and particularly his research interests of African politics stemmed from his curiosity about the developing world and from an inherited love of politics from his father.

“I was interested in how people live in conditions that we don't experience in this country,” Ostergard said. “Why do people who live under a dictatorship live in poverty? How can you improve those conditions? Those are real questions and problems that affect most of the world.”

Though Ostergard maintains a steady itinerary of several research projects at a time, as the Director of Graduate Studies, he is responsible for the department’s graduate program and curriculum. He acts as the point person for the 51 graduate students who come to him with any number of concerns about the department and the program. This is Ostergard's first year as the Director of Graduate Studies and he plans to expand the curriculum and the amount of students in the coming years.

Throughout his five year tenure at the University he has taught a rotation of classes including Introduction to World Politics, Global Political Economy, Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa, Research Methods in Political Science, Graduate Seminars in International Relations Theory and Comparative Politics, American Foreign Policy, Political Violence and International Security. Indeed, Ostergard's interaction with his students has earned him a reputation as a good teacher. He is a three-time consecutive Finalist for the Senator Alan Bible Excellence in Teaching Award at the University since 2009.

“Some of my classes can be entertaining to the extent that I do or say things in class that may be a little bit different,” he said. “Part of what students like to see in classes that they're paying for is that they approach the subject matter in a rigorous way while also having a bit of fun.”


Robert L. Ostergard, Jr. joined the department in 2006 from the State University of New York, Binghamton. He served as the Associate Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York, Binghamton from 2000-2006.

His research is focused predominantly in two areas of interest: the relationship between intellectual property rights and development and issues of national and international security in Africa, with an emphasis on the impact of epidemic diseases on state security. He currently serves as series co-editor of the Ashgate book series Global Health and has previously served as a consultant for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa (CHGA), the Council on Foreign Relations, and UNAIDS. His current research examines the institutional origins of the varying responses by African states to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. His most recent book is entitled HIV/AIDS and the Threat to National and International Security (Palgrave, 2007).

Selected Publications

  • HIV/AIDS and the Threat to National and International Security (Palgrave, 2007)

Read More

Robert Ostergard, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
(775) 682-7767
MSS 231