Duke professor Michael Ward remembered for wit, wisdom and ‘not accepting the status quo anywhere’

Michael Ward, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, passed away on July 9 at the age of 72 on July 9 after a long battle against prostate cancer. He is remembered for his profound influence on colleagues, trainees, and students, as well as for his application of social network analysis in political science.

Prior to Duke’s work, Ward taught at Northwestern University, the University of Colorado, Pierre Mendes-France University, and the University of Washington. He also founded Predictive Heuristics, a consulting firm focused on creating predictive models that allow organizations to “measure the global political risk environment.”

Ward published 12 books and more than 100 articles during his career, advancing an understanding of international conflict, geopolitics, commerce, and the many other subfields of political science.

Political science professor Kyle Beardsley described Ward as a “pioneer in harnessing the power of prediction in international politics.”

Mike has been using social network analysis theories in political science well before almost anyone else. It was also ahead of its time in using big data, really rich data at the event level, to help us predict and predict things like international crises,” Beardsley said.

Ward was also known for not being afraid of challenging existing conventions, which allowed him to make an enormous impact in his field.

“Mike was very extraordinary in that he did an excellent job but in a way that I think we will still think about 20 years from now because not only has he helped us find new knowledge, he has been challenging the way we do research,” Jacob said. Montgomery, MA in Statistics 09, Ph.D. ’09 and ’11.

Former student Cassie Dorf, MA in Political Science ’13, Ph.D. ’15, How Ward advocated underrepresented scholars in conflict studies and the highly quantitative subfields of political science.

“I really appreciate that I had such a big guy like this mentor who didn’t just pretend to be [underrepresentation] It wasn’t a problem, and he didn’t pretend to be [underrepresentation] Dorf said. “He didn’t just raise his arms and say ‘Okay, this is all terrible, so let’s just leave or let’s not deal with it. “He really tried to be a part of the changes he wanted to see in the academy.”

In addition to Ward’s audacity, Beardsley admired Ward’s ability to be “suspicious and defiant in all things, yet warm, loving and graceful.”

Ward’s former student Howard Liu, 15 MPhil and Ph.D. ’19, appreciated how these qualities translated into his guidance.

Liu said, “He just wanted us to push ourselves to do better academically because he knew we could do it. When I was young, there was a lot of pressure for me, but in retrospect, I appreciate what he was doing because the pressure was giving me more motivation and motivation to do work. better “.

Leo vividly remembers their first conversation and how meaningful Ward’s encouragement was.

“[Ward] He said in an email, “Hey boy,…I think you have a lot of potential and I just wanted to tell you that you’re going to do a great job after you decide to put in some more hard work.”

Dorf noted that some of Dorf’s early memories with Ward highlight how encouraging he was as a mentor.

“The first time I went to conferences with Mike, he always made sure to introduce me to colleagues, both colleagues he knows well as well as colleagues and other scientists in the field whom he may not have known well but thought I would benefit from having the opportunity to interact with her,” he said. Dorf.

In the lab, Dorf also found Ward supportive of how keen he is to celebrate every win and learn from the losses.

“If someone gets a flyer or if the team gets a flyer, they’ll take us out to dinner or they might buy some pastries for the lab meeting this morning, and I can’t eat pastries—I have celiac disease—so he always made sure he found something I could Eat it,” Dorf said.

Another of Ward’s former students, Shahryar Minha, has an MA in Computational Economics 15 and a Ph.D. ’16, also impressed by the nature of the caring ward. Minhas remembers how supportive Ward was when he was in the job market.

He was always there to chat. He was always there to help. He was always there to let you know he was like ‘Hey, even if things don’t work out this first time, I’ll be here.’ We will prepare you as a postdoc. “You can come to work at my consulting firm,” Minhas said. “He always made you feel valued and appreciated, and he cared so much about everyone.”

In addition to his caring nature, Dorf finds that Ward’s great influence in various fields is memorable.

“One of the most beautiful things about Mike’s life and one of the true gifts of his life is that he will never be remembered for just one thing,” Dorf said. “He will always be remembered for many things: for complexity, for generosity, for his intelligence, for his sharp mind, for pushing the field forward, for not accepting the status quo anywhere. And I think that is something I really aspire to.”

Toward the end of his life, Ward hoped his body would help advance cancer research. A campaign has been launched in his memory where the donations will advance his oncology research on prostate cancer.

Ward is survived by his wife Sandra, brother Dennis, and son Chris.


Eira Sharanya

Ira Charania is a sophomore at Trinity College and associate news editor for volume 117 of The Chronicle.

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