Political scientist Louise Richardson has spent her career combining research on terrorism, graduate and undergraduate teaching, and leading organisational change in higher education. Immediately prior to her 2009 appointment as Principal and Vice-Chancellor at St Andrews, she served for seven and a half years as Executive Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and was instrumental in the transformation of Radcliffe, once a women's college, into an interdisciplinary centre promoting scholarship across a wide range of academic fields and the creative arts.
Born in the Republic of Ireland, Professor Richardson grew up as one of seven children in Tramore, County Waterford. She received a BA in History from Trinity College, Dublin, an MA in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and an MA and PhD in Government from Harvard University.
Professor Richardson’s academic focus has been on international security with an emphasis on terrorist movements. From 1989 to 2001 Richardson served as Assistant and then Associate Professor in the Harvard Government Department, teaching courses on international relations – especially in areas of terrorism, international security and American and comparative foreign policy. During this period she also served for eight years as Head Tutor and Chair of the Board of Tutors (Director of Undergraduate Studies) in the Government Department.
For several years, Professor Richardson taught Harvard’s large undergraduate lecture course, Terrorist Movements in International Relations. For this, she won the Levenson Prize, awarded by the undergraduate student body to the best teachers at the University. This class, along with a number of graduate courses on terrorist movements and European terrorism, were for many years the only courses offered on the subject at Harvard. In addition to the Levenson Prize, Professor Richardson has received teaching awards from the American Political Science Association and Pi Sigma Alpha for outstanding teaching in political science; the Abramson Award in recognition of her 'excellence and sensitivity in teaching undergraduates' and many awards from the Bok Center for Teaching Excellence. After her 2001 Radcliffe appointment, she continued to teach, both at Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
The author of What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat (Random House, 2006) and When Allies Differ: Anglo-American Relations in the Suez and Falkland Crises (St Martin’s Press, 1996), Professor Richardson is also the editor of The Roots of Terrorism (Routledge, 2006) and co-editor of Democracy and Counterterrorism: Lessons from the Past (United States Institute of Peace, 2007). Professor Richardson has published many journal articles, book chapters, and reviews on the subject of terrorism. She serves on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals and presses related to security studies. She was awarded the Sumner Prize for work towards the prevention of war and the establishment of universal peace. Her research has been recognised with awards from, among others, the Ford Foundation, the Milton Fund, the Sloan Foundation, the Krupp Foundation, the Center for European Studies, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and the United States Institute of Peace.
Over the past decade, in addition to her teaching and management roles, Professor Richardson has given over 300 talks and lectures on terrorism and counter-terrorism to educational and private groups as well as policy makers, the military, intelligence, and business communities. She has testified before the United States Senate and has appeared on CNN, the BBC, PBS, NPR, Fox and a host of other broadcast outlets. Her work has been featured in numerous international periodicals.
As a Harvard faculty member, Professor Richardson served in several administrative capacities, including the Faculty Council and committees concerning such issues as undergraduate education, the status of women, human rights and the library. She also served as Director of the Murray Research Center at Harvard. In addition, Professor Richardson currently serves on the advisory board for a number of institutions in the UK, Ireland, and the US, all furthering our understanding of the humanities, political violence, and human rights.
Professor Richardson is married to Thomas Jevon, MD. The couple have three children, Ciara, Fiona and Rory.