Alison Holmes

Associate Professor

Alison Holmes
(707) 826-4117
FH 137
Office Hours: 
On leave; returning fall 2021
PhD, London School of Economics
Biography: 

Born and raised in Oklahoma, I headed to Northwestern University at 16. I spent a summer volunteering in Northern Ireland and quickly changed my major to social policy. After graduating in 1985, I went straight to the University of Chicago where I learned more about policy, helped found a campus/community volunteer program and spent every spare moment in the UK.

In 1987 I moved to London and got a job with the Liberal Democrats, the third party in British politics, doing research and writing briefs and speeches on Northern Ireland. I quickly moved into campaigning and became the General Election Coordinator for the party’s 1992 campaign. Because one good campaign deserves another, I stayed until the 1997 election and became the National Campaign Manager. Ten years and a doubling of LibDem representation in Parliament later, I left the party to join the BBC as the Deputy Head of Corporate Communication Strategy and helped launch BBC News 24 and BBC Online. Three years on, I was headhunted by a public relations firm to advise clients on corporate social responsibility issues until I was recruited to be the Managing Director of the London office of the largest UK/US business membership organization.

Between elections, I enrolled at the London School of Economics, first for a Diploma in World Politics and then a PhD (part-time). I was awarded my doctorate in International Relations in 2005 and celebrated by leaving the private sector. My first foray into education was a teaching/research fellowship at the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford University – while also working as speechwriter for the US Ambassador in London. After 21 years abroad, I accepted the Pierre Keller Fellowship in Transatlantic Studies at Yale University and stayed two years. Nearing the end of the fellowship, I couldn’t resist the chance to be a consultant to the 2010 Liberal Democrat Campaign and was thrilled to be part of the team that gained the party (and my old friends) a place in government. There was an opportunity to return to British politics – but I had a better offer here in Arcata.

My research interests (and current book projects) involve global diplomacy (and California as an increasingly important global actor), British politics, and international relations theory. In my spare time I enjoy digging in the garden, walking the beaches of Humboldt and listening to lots of live jazz.

Courses Taught: 
INTL 100 Critical Thinking Globalization
INTL 210 Introduction to International Studies
PSCI 230 Introduction to Comparative Politics
INTL 320 Career workshop
PSCI 441 International Law
INTL 490 International Studies Capstone
PSCI 485 Senior Seminar: Global Diplomacy