About Me

Mai'a Davis Cross
At Northeastern University. Photo by Adam Glanzman

Mai’a K. Davis Cross is the Dean’s Professor of Political Science, International Affairs, and Diplomacy and Director of the Center for International Affairs & World Cultures at Northeastern University. She is an international relations expert, with a focus on international cooperation, security, and diplomacy, especially in the European and transatlantic regions. She holds a PhD in Politics from Princeton University, and a bachelor’s degree in Government from Harvard University.  She has previously held tenure-track professorships at Colgate University and the University of Southern California, and was Senior Researcher at the Arena Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo, 2012-2018.  She regularly engages in public-oriented commentary through interviews and op-eds in The Washington Post, Newsweek, NBC, The Independent, Vanity Fair, and Vox, among others.  She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Professor Cross is the author of four books (one in press) and the co-editor of two books.  Her most recently completed book is, International Cooperation Against All Odds: The Ultrasocial World, which will be released in Fall 2023 with Oxford University Press (see The Ultrasocial World page). It features four major case studies – (1) the European integration project, (2) the international relations of space exploration, (3) the global nuclear weapons taboo, and (4) the transnational climate change regime – to show how the human predisposition to be ultrasocial has enabled transformational ideas to grow into social movements, and eventually international cooperation.  Prior to this, she published European-Russian Power Relations in Turbulent Times (University of Michigan Press, 2021) and The Politics of Crisis in Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2017).  Her second book, Security Integration in Europe: How Knowledge-based Networks are Transforming the European Union (University of Michigan Press, 2011) is the winner of the 2012 Best Book Prize in European Studies.  Beyond these major projects, she has also written over 50 articles and book chapters on a wide range of topics related to her core research interests, including public diplomacy, intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism, soft/smart power, climate change, and space diplomacy.

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Professor Cross holds numerous national and international appointments and affiliations. Primarily, she is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an affiliate of Harvard’s Center for European Studies.  She was appointed Editor of the Journal of European Integration from 2018 to 2023.  She also serves on the editorial boards of Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, European Security, Palgrave Macmillan’s Series in Global Public Diplomacy, and the Journal of European Integration.  Professor Cross was also elected to the History Committees of the International Astronautical Congress and American Astronautical Society, and is an invited member of The Overview Roundtable.  Previously, she was a 2009 Fulbright Fellow in European Union Studies, Visiting Fellow at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris, and 2016 Nobel Fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute where she contributed to the Nobel Symposium.  From 2014 to 2019, she was Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations before being elected as a life member in 2023.

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On a more personal note: Originally from Hawai’i, Professor Cross is of Native Hawaiian and Asian descent. She grew up in both Hawai’i and Hong Kong until she was invited to train year-round at the School of American Ballet, official school of the New York City Ballet, at Lincoln Center. Upon graduating from SAB and Professional Children’s School in NYC, she continued dancing as Principal Dancer of the Harvard Ballet Company, appearing in many leading roles, while concentrating in Government at Harvard with a focus on East Asia. The same year that she was awarded the Louis Sudler Award for Excellence in the Arts at Harvard, she completed her honor’s thesis on grassroots democracy in Japan. In 1997, she also returned to Hong Kong as an intern journalist at the South China Morning Post and TIME Magazine, covering the handover of Hong Kong back to China. During her senior year at Harvard, she interned at the US State Department’s Foreign Service Institute, sparking her career-long interest in researching and writing about diplomats and diplomacy. Today, she travels frequently to Europe for research, but returns to Hawai’i as often as possible.

Contact: m.cross@northeastern.edu

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