St. John’s Professor’s Fellowship Study
Published by RAND Corporation
David Kearn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Government
and Politics at St. John’s University, has garnered many
distinctions throughout his career, the most recent of which is the
Stanton Nuclear Research Security Fellowship. “I was blown away
when I learned I had received the grant,” he said. Dr. Kearn’s
study — Facing
the Missile Challenge: U.S. Strategy and the Future of the
Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty — was published by RAND
Named for Frank Stanton — longtime president of CBS and chairman of
RAND from 1961–67 — the fellowship was designed to foster the
development of the next generation of nuclear security thinkers.
Stanton Fellows receive funding to underwrite a year of research on
the challenges presented by modifications in policies governing
national security and the use of nuclear weapons.
Founded in 1948 in the wake of World War II, RAND was created to
provide nonpartisan research and analysis on critical issues
impacting national security policies. Many of the nation’s leading
nuclear strategists worked at RAND, in addition to such government
dignitaries as Secretaries of Defense Robert McNamara, James
Schlesinger and Harold Brown.
“The opportunity to obtain generous support from such a renowned
institution doesn’t come along very often,” Dr. Kearn said, adding
that he looked forward to sharing the experience with his
When he began his tenure at St. John’s University in 2008, Dr.
Kearn had participated in a variety of international relations
think-tanks. “His practice of incorporating his professional
experiences into the classroom makes concepts come alive,” Matthew
Lundy ’13C said. “Watching the Presidential Debate on foreign
policy with him was incredibly enlightening. He gave us his
feedback, drawing on his expertise and behind-the-scenes knowledge,
and he encouraged us to come to our own conclusions.”
Dr. Kearn believes the study of government and politics helps
students acquire analytical thinking, speaking and writing skills.
“Part of my role,” he said, “is to prepare students for the
workplace by giving them the tools they need whether they choose
law, public policy, international affairs, education or other
He teaches his students to grapple with real-world problems, such
as researching global terrorist movements and making policy
recommendations to stem their growth. “Some of the resulting
presentations have been so sophisticated, especially
technologically, that they could have been done by high-level
Washington, D.C., consultants,” Dr. Kearn said. “My students
often surpass my expectations. Not only are they savvy and curious
about the world, but their diverse backgrounds and differing
perspectives make for dynamic class discussions.”
Ryan Covino ’10G, who now works as a law enforcement investigator
for New York City, noted that he felt very fortunate to have Dr.
Kearn as his master’s thesis advisor. “He taught me everything I
know about international relations and security,” said Covino, “Dr.
Kearn is a real asset to St. John’s and an invaluable resource and
inspiration for his students.”
Growing up in Medford, MA, a semi-urban area much like Queens, Dr.
Kearn was initially attracted to St. John’s because of the
University’s transformation from a commuter college to a nationally
recognized institution. “I was also excited about joining a leading
Catholic school,” he said, “committed to creating opportunities for
Dr. Kearn earned his undergraduate degree at Amherst College; his
master’s at Harvard University’s John. F. Kennedy School of
Government; and his doctorate at the University of Virginia.
While he initially considered pursuing a career in public policy
and consulting, Dr. Kearn decided he wanted to teach future leaders
in the field. “I love being in a university environment and
interacting with students,” he said. “I wanted to be a scholar and