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Four people sitting at table with microphones as they are on a speaker's panel. Two men are dressed in military uniforms.

Chris Hunt speaks at the 2023 PSSC conference. Credit: C. Hunt

Military experience leads to graduate degree in political studies

Pushed to intellectual limits, UM great choice for research and opportunities

June 5, 2023 — 

In 2017, Christopher Hunt was living in Brandon, serving several short-term contracts in the Army Reserve and conducting contracted research for Royal Military College when he found himself deployed to Ukraine. At that point, his life experiences, his passion for politics and his meeting with Dr. James Fergusson, professor of political studies and deputy director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies in the Faculty of Arts led him to pursue graduate studies at UM. This spring, he is graduating with a Master of Arts in Political Studies – a program that has afforded Chris many outstanding opportunities and has allowed him to meet some amazing students, academics and professionals in the field.

While pursuing his degree, Chris remained dedicated to his service in the Canadian Armed Forces as a part-time army reservist. Balancing his military duties and academic workload was a challenging task, particularly during the pandemic. Chris recognized the practical connection between his military experience and theoretical coursework, enhancing his capabilities as an officer. His expertise was acknowledged when he was invited to speak as a panelist at the Political Studies Students’ Conference in February 2023 alongside high-ranking military professionals. “My fellow panelists included a full colonel and a general from the air force. As a much more junior officer and grad student, I found myself in equal dialogue with individuals far senior to me,” said Chris. “To say this was a great experience and a confidence booster would be a supreme understatement.”  

During his studies, Chris displayed a remarkable commitment to his academics, where he engaged in captivating coursework and specialized in strategic studies under the guidance of renowned faculty, including his research supervisor, Dr. James Fergusson.

Chris’ thesis topic was inspired by his experience training the Ukrainian army. He felt the need to delve deeper into the academic foundations and complexities surrounding these phenomena. Throughout his research, Chris received invaluable support and guidance from Dr. Fergusson, who fostered an environment of high expectations, encouragement and patience. His research and studies have directly influenced his position in the Canadian Army reserve, particularly his involvement in Canadian Army Influence Activities. The knowledge and theories he acquired during his studies significantly enhanced his performance as an officer, enabling him to share his deep understanding with his unit. Despite no longer actively serving in the military, Chris plans to continue his research in this area and share his findings through channels such as the Army Journal.

Chris’s dedication and achievements were recognized through the prestigious J.W. Dafoe Graduate Fellowship for Study in International Relations. Beyond his academic pursuits, Chris actively participated in SAMPA, the student association for Masters of Political and Public Administration, where he organized events and advocated for the needs of fellow students. “Getting involved was a great way to meet fellow students who were not in my classes, network with faculty and professionals in related fields, and of course have some fun,” says Chris.

Reflecting on his journey at UM, Chris cherishes the experience of taking Dr. Fergusson’s Contemporary Strategic and Security Studies class. The course’s structure, challenging readings and stimulating class discussions pushed Chris and his peers to expand their intellectual limits. Dr. Fergusson’s thought-provoking questions and guidance elevated their understanding and honed their analytical abilities.

Chris encourages his fellow graduating students to recognize the value and significance of an Arts education. He believes that as Arts graduates, they join a tradition of thinkers, storytellers, innovators and dreamers. Chris considers their shared knowledge and perspectives to hold true transcendent value and it is their duty to share it with the world. Chris’s journey at UM exemplifies an admirable balance between academic pursuit and military service. His dedication to learning, teaching and research, combined with his practical experience, positions him for a bright future. As he continues his path, Chris will undoubtedly make significant contributions to his field and inspire others along the way.

After graduation, Chris has transitioned to the supplementary reserve and is focused on pursuing opportunities in higher education and research. He currently works at Assiniboine Community College in student affairs, nurturing his passion for teaching and supporting students. Chris plans to explore teaching opportunities at Brandon University and potentially return to UM in the future. He is also continuing with his research endeavors and is scheduled to speak at a conference on the historical role of the Dakota in British-American relations, directly related to his thesis work.


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