Maria Robson
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My Story

Maria discovered a passion for intelligence history – how individual ingenuity contributes to national security – and this led her down an unexpected path to studying International Relations at the PhD level at Northeastern. Maria moved to Boston from her native Canada, where she worked in private-sector intelligence after completing a Master’s in Security Studies.

Here is Maria’s Northeastern story…

My Path
Why Political Science?

“We teach theory – but we ground it in practicality.” This comment over the phone from Professor Daniel Aldrich solidified Maria’s conviction that Northeastern’s Political Science PhD program was the right fit. At Northeastern, Maria united her passion for international relations studies with her interest and professional experience in security, working under the guidance of Professor Stephen Flynn. Although she previously focused on proactive risk analysis, Maria has been able to broaden her understanding of security to include concepts of resilience through coursework and research projects at Northeastern.

Transformative Coursework

POLS 7207 Seminar in International Relations with Professor Mai’a Cross

Professor Cross’ thorough, accessible approach to International Relations (IR) theory confirmed Maria’s desire to concentrate in IR. She was inordinately enthusiastic over some of the readings in the course (particularly ones that melded IR with psychology). After taking this course, she became a Teaching Assistant in IR.

Research Assistantship

Maria obtained a Research Assistantship with Professor Denis Sullivan and the Boston Consortium for Arab Region Studies (BCARS).

Contributing to BCARS’s research and workshops on the Syrian refugee crisis inspired Maria to channel her energy towards refugee-related research and other projects. Supporting BCARS research was a reminder of the enduring gaps in understanding of refugee crises and the need for further research and support for organizations dedicated to enhancing understanding of migration and humanitarian issues.

Teaching Assistantship

Maria is a guest lecturer and holds a teaching assistantship in religion and politics, and international relations.

According to Maria, it is a completely different experience being at the front of the classroom than it is being seated, expecting someone else to be the expert. It’s invaluable and engaging, and Maria has had the opportunity to guest lecture on the role of religion in politics in Canada which is very different than in the US. Maria is now a TA in international relations and loves hearing students’ varied perspectives and coming up with different ways to approach concepts and engage students.

Civic Engagement in Boston

Maria served on the student executives at her bachelor’s and master’s universities and is looking forward to contributing to the student community in the PhD program at Northeastern.

Outside of the university, Maria is a food bank volunteer and is exploring opportunities to contribute to humanitarian support for refugees. She is a long-standing participant in non-profit civil society organizations in Canada, helping organize conferences to foster the exchange of ideas around policy, governance, and civil society.

Professional Development

Maria is a contributor to Encyclopedia Geopolitica, an online publication focused on global geopolitics and security, building on her past professional experience analyzing security risks in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.

On the professional front, Maria runs her own consulting company in Canada, which is on hold while she completes her PhD.

Next Steps

Maria is currently interested in research, teaching, and professional work, such as think tanks, private sector security analysis, or consulting. Maria also hopes to advance learning in her field through researching or teaching.


Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University
This was Maria’s Pathway... Where will yours lead?

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PhD in Political Science