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He Brings International Issues to Public's Attention
Kal Raustiala attended law school after his Ph.D. despite his dissertation advisers' urging that he move directly into academia. (Photo by Don Liebig)

He Brings International Issues to Public's Attention

In his new post at the Burkle Center, Raustiala said he will take advantage of UCLA's West Coast setting to "focus on areas where we can really move the debate forward," including Latin America and the Pacific Rim, while still "covering the waterfront of international relations."

Kevin Matthews Email KevinMatthews

I'm also really interested in policy and how what we do here can impact the broader world.

This article was first published in UCLA Today.

Kal Raustiala, a professor at the School of Law and the International Institute, was a natural to write about Saddam Hussein's trial for The New Republic. His two-part series, "A Viewer's Guide to the Saddam Trial," emerged from his perspective as an expert in international law with a knack for reaching general and scholarly audiences alike.

As new director of the Burkle Center for International Relations in UCLA's International Institute, Raustiala plans to continue to pursue wide-ranging intellectual interests while seeking ways to bring international affairs into greater public discourse.

"Universities are terrific, and I love the scholarly side of being a professor," he said. "But I'm also really interested in policy and how what we do here can impact the broader world."

An expert in international accords with a focus on intellectual property, Raustiala has long worked at the crossroads of theory and policy. He is currently writing a book, "The Evolution of Territoriality," in which he teases out the geopolitical implications of evolving doctrines about the application of American law beyond U.S. borders. One of his abiding interests on which he hopes to devote some of the Burkle Center's intellectual energies is the way nations develop cooperative efforts such as treaties and alliances on issues like global warming.

"One of the really important things is thinking about what kind of architecture of global governance we need in the 21st century," he said, "and how can we strengthen that architecture while at the same time ensuring a system that's fair, just, transparent and democratic."

Raustiala originally prepared for a career in political science but changed paths in graduate school. He wouldn't have developed his latest book idea, he said — or, for that matter, met his wife, Lara Stemple, director of graduate studies at the law school — had he heeded the advice of his dissertation committee at UC San Diego to accept a tenure-track appointment at Brandeis University after completing his doctorate in political science. Instead, he attended law school at Harvard, a move about which he has no regrets.

In his new post at the Burkle Center, Raustiala said he will take advantage of UCLA's West Coast setting to "focus on areas where we can really move the debate forward," including Latin America and the Pacific Rim, while still "covering the waterfront of international relations." He also wants the center to look at California and Los Angeles in global terms, especially on trade, global health and environmental issues.

Under his leadership, the Burkle Center will continue to offer workshops, courses, lectures and its marquee speaker series, the Burkle Forum, which has brought major figures such as former President Jimmy Carter to campus. Raustiala also hopes to form a new community of senior scholars on campus by expanding the number of in-residence fellows.

Gen. Wesley K. Clark (Ret.) joined the center last fall as a senior fellow and recently lectured on what he termed the legal but not legitimate war in Iraq. On March 6–7, he will lead a conference in which he and other participants, including former Defense Secretary William Perry, will explore emerging nuclear threats.

Learn more about the conference.

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