Spotlighted Faculty: Michael Morgan
Like many historians, Professor Michael Morgan says that his interests have been shaped by the era in which he grew up. The end of the Cold War and the conflicts in Rwanda and Yugoslavia during the 1990s put democracy and human rights at the forefront of international politics, but events since 2001 have raised questions about those principles and the durability of the post-Cold War order. Morgan’s current research focuses on the history of the Cold War, specifically the genesis of the Helsinki Final Act. The 1975 agreement was a watershed in relations between the superpowers and had far-reaching consequences for human rights and international politics, especially in Europe.
Currently in his fourth year at Carolina, Morgan finds the total freedom of designing his courses from scratch gratifying. He teaches two complementary lecture courses on the history of statecraft from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, as well smaller courses on the history of human rights and the global Cold War. These classes address fundamental questions about the relationship between statecraft and ideas of international order, including human rights, and the ways in which states have tried to maintain peace throughout history.
Morgan’s experience at the University has been overwhelmingly positive. He has had exceptional students who are not only engaged, but see the relevance of history to understanding the world around them. UNC is an ideal place for international historians, Morgan says, not just because of the outstanding students and faculty, but also because of interdisciplinary initiatives such as the Triangle Institute for Security Studies, a collaborative endeavor between UNC, Duke, and NC State. And the cherry on top? It is a testament to Carolina, Morgan says, the University offered positions to both him and his wife, Professor Molly Worthen, who also teaches in the history department.