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About Carthage

5 Minutes with Art Cyr

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Department: International Political Economy
Title: A. W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor of Political Economy and World Business; Director, A.W. Clausen Center for World Business; Director, International Political Economy Program; Professor of Political Science
Best Office Artifact: Tanzanian sculpture from alumnus

Professor Art Cyr combines his 22-year career in nonprofit administration with his extensive knowledge of foreign relations to ensure Carthage students are prepared to be leaders in our global economy.

A professor of political science, he is the Director of the A.W. Clausen Center for World Business; the A. W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor of Political Economy and World Business; and the Director of the International Political Economy Program.

Prior to coming to Carthage in 1998, Prof. Cyr served as president of the Chicago World Trade Center Association and vice president of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a prolific author, writing articles about international relations, British politics, and other topics for various news organizations as well as professional journals. Prof. Cyr studies international politics and relations, political economy, defense and military security, and diplomatic and military history.

We spoke with Prof. Cyr about the IPE Program at Carthage and how his past experiences influence the way he teaches.

How did you get involved in the International Political Economy Program?
I had been working in nonprofit administration in Chicago for 22 years when Carthage contacted me about the Clausen Chair. After spending time on campus with students, faculty, and staff, I was offered the position.

What did you do while working in nonprofit administration?
I spent two decades working at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. I worked with the president, John Rielly, and others to build up the institution, create a strong program, and become financially successful. I was then recruited to spend two years at the World Trade Center organization in Chicago.

It was very worthwhile, educational and challenging for me to help them work through their financial and related management problems.

What unexpected paths have you taken throughout your career?
Initially, I earned a Ph.D. in political science with the idea of being a college professor. I wound up working at the Ford Foundation in New York City, was in the U.S. Army, and then spent two years teaching and working in the administration at my alma mater, the University of California-Los Angeles.

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Follow what you’re interested in. We all have a tendency to outsmart ourselves and calculate too much. Really think hard about what is most interesting to you. I believe that is the best route to satisfaction and professional success.

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How have you pushed students beyond their comfort zones?
There is no simple answer. I am fortunate enough to be responsible for the International Political Economy major, which is a combination of economics, political science, and other subjects. The field of modern economics began in Britain during the Industrial Revolution, and our British friends still combine government and economics, political science and economics, and political economy. In this country, economists in the early 20th century decided that they were so quantitative, scientific, and rigorous that they could break away from political science. There’s been a tendency over the last half-century for the two fields to come back together. International political economy represents the resurgence of the traditional British approach to economics because it’s interdisciplinary, and I believe that’s challenging to students.

I generally avoid lectures, instead using the Socratic method of interaction with students. There’s a lot of emphasis on class presentations and written work. I think that’s a good way for students to move beyond their comfort zones.

I am emphatic in telling our students that they can’t have their own facts, but they should have their own opinions. If students disagree with me effectively, that is a great way to get extra credit in my classes. Students should have their own opinion as long as we agree on the facts.

What are some hobbies and skills you have that students may not know about?
Parenthood is the most rewarding activity in my life. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to begin work here when my youngest son was starting high school. My sons and I have played chess and have done a lot of yard work together. Over the years I have practiced Wing Chun Kung Fu. I highly recommend it. My middle son, Tom, and I took up the martial art a long time ago.

What advice do you have for students going into international political economy?
Follow what you’re interested in. We all have a tendency to outsmart ourselves and calculate too much. Really think hard about what is most interesting to you. I believe that is the best route to satisfaction and professional success.

There are several organizations that are a priority at the Clausen Center: Enactus, Mock Trial, Model U.N, and CFA Institute. These opportunities offer an education outside of the classroom, which is almost as important as education inside the classroom.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2019), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

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    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

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    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $20,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …

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