I am a PhD candidate in the program for Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California.

I study international responses to civil and interstate conflicts. My dissertation focuses on the decisions of states to move towards and away from recognition of secessionist, separatist, and self-determination movements. I am developing a formal model of foreign policy decisions that legitimize self-determination movements, collecting data on individual state decisions to move towards recognition of new states, and selecting cases to explore. Through my projects, I have maintained an interest in North African and Middle Eastern affairs. The region is unfortunately very volatile, but it does provide ample opportunity to study conflict from all its angles.

I also study research methods, teaching a graduate math boot camp for my program and an undergraduate course introducing social science research methods.

Incidentally, I grew up in a large missionary family between southern Colorado and the big island of Hawai'i, I love classic cars and motorcycles, woodworking, and acoustic music, and I used to be a professional photographer.



Each of the following conference and working papers can be downloaded as PDF by clicking on the title.

Huddleston, R. Joseph. Working Paper: “Booed Off Stage: Syria, the US, and Triangulation of Audience Costs.” Prepared for the 2014 MPSA Conference

Through analysis of the Obama administration’s 2013 policy crisis concerning intervention in the Syrian civil war, I test audience cost theory. This case—including an explicit military threat made publically by an unconstrained democratic leader—represents a clear test of audience cost theory. The events that played out in the Syria case provide decisive evidence for a need to refine our definition and theoretical expectations of audiences during foreign policy crises, compelling narrower tests of audience costs that account for public preference and temporal variance.

Huddleston, R. Joseph. Working Paper: “Sahrawi Refugee Youth between Ambition and Identity.

Through 17 interviews with Sahrawi youth in the Algerian refugee camps, I find that Sahrawi youth have come to individually embody the national cause, naming national liberation as their personal goal. They see themselves as self-reliant and individualistic in certain ways, but are willing to sacrifice the individual identity for the sake of the collective. This is most evident in these interviews in the way they sometimes consider opportunity to leave the camps for an easier life: many Sahrawi have been prone to reject them, preferring to stay in the camps because leaving may be viewed as betrayal of the national cause.

Huddleston, R. Joseph. Working Paper: “Western Sahara, Self-Determination, and the Shadow of Violence.

The track record of state decisions to recognize the right to self-determination of Western Sahara reveals an interesting and potentially troubling tendency. States tend only to recognize movements for self-determination when violence is present. When violence ceases, not only does recognition cease, but states even begin to “derecognize” nascent liberation movements.

Huddleston, R. Joseph. Working Paper: “Audience Costs among Swing Voters.

This is an experimental design aimed at testing audience costs among voters who switch from election to the next. This project will approach predicting the electoral consequences of presidential empty threats by blocking for “swing voters,” who actually hold the potential to inflict costs by voting for candidates of different parties from one election to the next. Additionally, it will test whether “backing down” is in fact the source of disapproval; it will do so by testing voters’ reactions to a president who indicates that he will stay out, but then gets involved anyway.

Huddleston, R. Joseph. Working Paper: “Before the Last Domino: Refining Rivalry.

In this essay, I outline the concept of rivalry as it currently stands, its foundational elements and evolution, and I propose a broader conceptualization of rivalry that promises to explain armed conflict between states that previous models fail to recognize as resulting from rivalry. I evaluate the current working definitions and conceptualizations of interstate rivalry, and I outline the utility of the concept of rivalry for explaining conflict, asserting that, in seeking to explain conflict, rivalry cannot be defined only by conflict, as current authors continue to do.


Instructor2014-2015Methods Boot Camp, POIR, USC

  • Developed and taught a one-week curriculum to introduce incoming PhD students to concepts from calculus, linear algebra, and probability theory that are crucial to statistical analysis.
  • Collaborated with peers and faculty in multiple departments to ensure the material would suit students from multiple social science disciplines.
  • Introduced incoming students to key statistical tools like OLS, negative binomial, logit, and probit regression.

Teacher and Counselor2010–2012Group Two-in-One, Tustin, CA

  • Taught small groups and provide individual tutoring on English grammar, critical reading skills, Spanish, American Government, Western Civilization, SAT, ACT, and TOEFL test preparation to non-native English speakers improving their comprehension and performance in school.
  • Advise students on university selection and self-presentation in the application process to improve chances of admission.

English Teacher2008Madrasa as-Salaam, Tindouf, Algeria

  • Designed curriculum for classes and individual pupils to build foundations of English comprehension for refugee children ages 9-15 by teaching in Spanish and Arabic with classes of about 20 students.




University of Southern CaliforniaMay 2017POIR PhD program

  • PhD Candidate in Political Science and International Relations
  • Dissertation topic is state recognition of new states and legitimization of self-determination, separatist, and secessionist movements.
  • Other research interests are conflict development and management, conflict’s effects on nationalism, as well as domestic constraints on leaders’ decision-making abilities.
  • Custom third subfield devoted to research design and methods, including experiments and quantitative and qualitative methods.

Chapman UniversityMay 2011

  • B.A. Double Major, Peace Studies and Sociology
  • Honors: Summa Cum LaudePaul Delp Award in Peace StudiesSociology Award for Academic Excellence

Research Experience


Faculty Research Assistant2014–2015Dr. Benjamin Graham, POIR, USC

  • Developed and maintained political economy database consisting of several dozen separate datasets.
  • Gathered data on international conflicts, focusing primarily on democratic involvement and motivations therein.
  • Managed undergraduate research assistants, overseeing their data-coding and ensuring their reliability and consistency.

Faculty Research Assistant2013–2014Dr. Laurie Brand, POIR, USC

  • Developed research agenda with Prof. Brand exploring diasporas’ involvement in homeland politics.
  • Exhaustively analyzed and review the relevant literature, seeking new places for contribution, and theoretical gaps.
  • Collected and organized information on Southeast Asian economic and political treatment of migrant workers for Prof. Brand’s conference circuit at several Southeast Asian academic venues.

Editing Intern2012–2012Mada al-Carmel Arab Center for Applied Social Research, Haifa, Israel

  • Reviewed and edited articles for publication in Mada’s own journal, for academic journals, and for online academic magazines, such as Jadal.
  • Designed, developed, and implemented new website for Mada in both Arabic and English, including an interactive events calendar, several social media outreach platforms, and an organization structure for all of Mada’s past work.

Faculty Research Assistant2011–2012Dr. Angeliki Kanavou, Peace Studies, Chapman University

  • Content analysis of interviews and media concerning the Northern Ireland conflict to track the influence of news coverage on public opinion.
  • Edit faculty reports for presentation in conferences and submissions to international journals.

Laboratory Research Assistant2009–2011Henley Social Research Laboratory, Chapman University

  • Analyzed quantitative and qualitative data for faculty research through the use of Excel, SPSS, and AnthroPac software systems.
  • Oriented students with lab resources to conduct and interpret research through individual advisement on methodology.
  • Interacted with donors at showcase events to represent the lab and student researchers.

Research Fellow2010Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)Los Angeles, CA

  • Through literature review and fieldwork, conducted research on both the CA criminal justice and legislative systems published nationally in policy statements and press releases by the DPA.
  • Rallied dozens of organizations with a team of three through cold calls and mass email campaigns for an all day conference attended by over 400 on DPA policy initiatives.
  • Pursued connections with public, non-profit, policy, and professional organizations by determining which have the most to gain or lose from progressive marijuana policy to forge potential partnerships for the DPA.
  • Conducted photojournalistic projects to cover DPA community and media outreach.