Meet Dr. David Ellis, Associate Professor of International Relations and Comparative Politics

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Dr. David C. Ellis joined New College of Florida in August 2023 as an Associate Professor of International Relations and Comparative Politics. Prior to joining the New College faculty, Dr. Ellis served as a Resident Senior Fellow at the Joint Special Operations University (2016-2022) affiliated with U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). He applied his research on democratization and development after identity conflict to U.S. counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations at USSOCOM (2009-2013), deployed as a civilian intelligence analyst to Afghanistan in support of Village Stability Operations (2010-2011), and later served as a program manager for cyber-intelligence and socio-cultural analysis contracts (2014-2016). Dr. Ellis has also served as a consultant to companies providing battle damage assessments to civilian infrastructure in conflict zones across the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe in support of prominent international organizations (2014-present).

Dr. Ellis’s most recent research focuses on the intersection of strategic competition, complexity theory, organizational learning within the Special Operations enterprise, and integrated statecraft. His research draws upon the literatures covering complex adaptive systems, structuration (agent- structure) dynamics intrinsic to the concept of praxis, the social construction of reality in theory and practice, the philosophy of social science, and competing visions of human rights and moral systems. Additionally, his research on atrocity included exposure to the literature on totalitarianism, the individual and social psychology involved in creating totalitarian environments, and the factors promoting resistance to totalitarianism and atrocity.

At New College, Dr. Ellis looks forward to working with students interested in U.S. foreign policy, international relations, and comparative politics. His recent experience working with the U.S. military and with other interagency partners reinforced the necessity to merge these subdisciplines, and he hopes to inspire thesis research rooted in practical political challenges.  His pre-doctoral studies covered peacekeeping, conflict resolution, international development, and atrocity in ethno-religious conflict. His doctoral research then focused on identity, social movements, organizational and social learning theory, and economic growth theory.

Dr. Ellis’s recent publications and book chapters include Complexity, Organizational Blinders, and the SOCOM Design Way (co-author, 2018); Iranian Proxy Groups in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen: A Principal-Agent Comparative Analysis (co-author, 2020); Big Data for Generals…and Everyone Else over 40 (editor, 2021); The Network Illusion: How a Network-Centric Special Operations Culture Impedes Strategic Effect (chapters, 2022); “Organizing US: Regime Theory for Integrated Statecraft” (chapter, 2023), “Human Smuggling and Terrorism: A Complex Adaptive Systems Approach for Special Operations Forces” (chapter, 2023) and Competing for Advantage: The Chinese Communist Party, Statecraft, and Special Operations (editor and co-author, 2024).