Skip to main content
Western Colorado's Selective University


Photo of Bill Flanik

Bill Flanik

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Contact Information

Houston Hall 212A



PhD, University of Toronto

BA, Virginia Commonwealth University


William M. Flanik, PhD, received his Bachelor of Arts in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Fleeing an unfulfilling career as a marginally competent line cook and deli attendant, he absconded to Canada and earned a PhD in political science from the University of Toronto, where he also trained teaching assistants in the art of keeping undergraduate students engaged (and awake). After teaching at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Flanik returned to the US to join the faculty at Colorado Mesa University. An assistant professor of political science, Flanik teaches Peace and Conflict Studies, Women and Gender in World Politics, US Foreign Policy, Global Governance, Government and Politics in Asia, International Political Economy, as well as other courses.

Students in all their diversity are central to Flanik's teaching. He sees students as active participants in their own learning and not as passive 'vessels' to be 'filled' with knowledge. Rather than 'tell it like it is,' he tries to leave students in a state of 'informed confusion.' By opening them to diverse perspectives, his role is to make students less sure of their assumptions and more circumspect in their claims. At the same time, he aims to empower students with the conceptual tools, intellectual skills, and confidence they need to navigate through their confusion and reach their own conclusions about political life. Flanik helps students to find and voice their own convictions with humility, eloquence, and sound logic.

Flanik's students partake in a community of learning both inside and outside the classroom. He encourages them to approach political science using their own knowledge and experience as a ground, and challenges them to identify their personal stake in politics. His students engage in a variety of active learning exercises, including role-plays, simulations, peer teaching, and lively group discussion. Additionally, Flanik does not shrink from showing videos of salsa-dancing chihuahuas in class, provided there is an available pedagogical rationale. And there always is.

Flanik dabbles in many different disciplines but specializes in international relations, comparative politics and US foreign policy. His current research asks how it was possible for national missile defense to have been revived in the early 1980s and approved for deployment 20 years later, despite chronic concerns about its feasibility, cost and rationale. He bases his explanation on conceptual metaphors - the mental constructs that framed missile defense as a 'shield,' a 'vision' and a 'journey.' He shows how proponents used these metaphors to transform the program from a dubious defensive scheme into a referendum on American exceptionalism, survival and progress.

Flanik's research has been supported by a Beattie Fellowship in Peace and Conflict Studies. He has published in Foreign Policy Analysis, and is cobbling together a book based on his current research, entitled "Metaphors Be With You: Rhetorical Coercion, Conceptual Metaphor, and U.S. Strategic Defense." He has also presented papers at annual meetings of the International Studies Association, the Canadian Political Science Association and the American Political Science Association. Along with his research on US foreign policy, Flanik is also interested in discourses of nationalism, ethno-nationalist conflict, gender and the privatization of security.

Flanik frequently works with students in CMU's Association of Feminists and Political Science Club. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the World Affairs Council of Western Colorado.

In his spare time, Flanik bikes, reads pop science and social history, preens mixed tapes, rejoices in nature, rolls out absurdly asymmetrical pizza crusts, delights in internet ephemera, pursues the perfect pale ale, fantasizes about cat ownership and wonders whether he's really living his best life, or if maybe he should start meditating or cut out gluten or something.