Bessner is the Anne H.H. and Kenneth B. Pyle Associate Professor in American Foreign Policy in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. His work focuses on intellectual and cultural history, U.S. foreign relations, the history of democratic thought, and the history of the social sciences. His latest book - a biography of German-American sociologist and ‘defense intellectual’ Hans Speier - looked at how the experience of the Weimar Republic’s collapse and the rise of Nazism informed Speier’s work. Speier served as a powerful consultant to the State Department and Ford Foundation across the mid-twentieth century and brought his expertise to bare on many policies that effected American Labor. Bessner is a frequent contributor to the Chronicle of Education, The Nation and the New York Times and has written extensively on the role of historians and academics as activists in the public sphere. In this writing a big focus has been on how academics can help to develop and implement policies that support working people through think-tanks, policy schools and university centers like the Bridges center.
Research/Teaching Areas: Intellectual and cultural history, U.S. foreign relations, History of democratic thought, History of the social sciences, American Labor in C20, Activism and Academia
Current Projects: The RAND Corporation: A History.