Skip to main content

Carol Atkinson

Professor of the Practice of International Relations

Contact Information


Biographical Sketch

Dr. Atkinson holds a Ph.D. in political science from Duke University and is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy in the class of 1984, which was the 5th graduating class with women. She is an expert on the US military, the evolving nature of warfare, emerging security threats, and US national security.

Dr. Atkinson retired as a lieutenant colonel from the US Air Force in 2005. She is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm (1991) where she worked on the Central Command Headquarters’ staff in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and later on the contingency planning staff in Dhahran. During the Cold War, she served as an intelligence advisor on Strategic Air Command’s nuclear airborne command post that was tasked with emergency command and control of US strategic nuclear weapons.  She was also stationed in Korea where she participated in combat war planning.

Dr. Atkinson’s research looks at how international exchange programs impact participants’ political beliefs and behavior. She is author of Military Soft Power: Public Diplomacy Through Military Educational Exchanges (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). The book examines the long term impacts of exchange programs hosted by the U.S. military’s war and staff colleges. Dr. Atkinson is herself an exchange participant having spent the fall of 2013 as a Fulbright Senior Research Fellow at the G.S. Rakovski National Defense College in Sofia, Bulgaria.

In her spare time, she tries to run as many miles as possible and enjoys hiking, camping, and cross-country skiing. Her favorite spectator sport is snooker.



Ph.D. International Relations, Duke University, 2003
M.A. Military Operational Art and Science, Command and Staff College (USAF), 1999
M.A. Geography, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1985
B.S. Geography / International Affairs, United States Air Force Academy, 1984

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Dr. Atkinson’s research looks at how military educational exchange programs impact participants’ political beliefs and behavior. She has published a book, several articles, and forthcoming book chapter on this topic. She is currently working on a research project that examines ethical and moral aspects of cyberwarfare and the conduct of cyberoperations.

Research Keywords

educational exchange, U.S. military, cyberwar, Bulgaria, Korea, socialization, national security



Atkinson, C. (2014). Military Soft Power: Public Diplomacy Through Military Educational Exchanges. Rowman & Littlefield.

Book Chapter

Atkinson, C. (2016). Global Networks, Soft Power, and the U.S. Military. Global Exchanges Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Atkinson, C. (2016). Lessons Learned from Military Exchange Programs at U.S. War and Staff Colleges. Intl Educ Exchanges & Intercultural Understanding Palgrave Macmillan.
Atkinson, C. (2015). The Legacy of NATO and U.S. Military Education Programs in Bulgaria. Sofia: St. George Publishing House.
Atkinson, C. (2014). Military Soft Power in the 21st Century. Augumenting Our Influence pp. 53-68. Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College.
Atkinson, C., Chiozza, G. (2012). Leadership and Commitment: the United States, Its Allies, And Emerging Security Institutions In Northeast Asia. Security Cooperation in Northeast Asia pp. 167-190. New York, NY: Routledge.
Krupnick, C., Atkinson, C. (2003). Slovakia and Security at the Center of Europe. Almost NATO pp. 47-82. Rowman & Littlefield.

Journal Article

Atkinson, C. (2015). U.S. Strategic Preferences in the Early 21st Century. Defense and Security Analysis. Vol. 31 (1), pp. 1-9.
Atkinson, C. (2015). The Role of U.S. Elite Military Schools in Promoting Intercultural Understanding and Democratic Governance. All Azimuth. Vol. 4 (2), pp. 19-29.
Atkinson, C., Chiozza, G. (2011). Leadership and Commitment: The United States of America and the Future of the Northeast Asian Order. Pacific Focus. Vol. 26 (3), pp. 287-315.
Atkinson, C. (2010). Using Nuclear Weapons. Review of International Studies. Vol. 36 (4), pp. 839-851.
Atkinson, C. (2010). Does Soft Power Matter? A Comparative Analysis of Student Exchange Programs 1980-2006. Foreign Policy Analysis. Vol. 6 (1), pp. 1-22.
Atkinson, C. (2006). Constructivist Implications of Material Power: Military Engagement and the Socialization of States, 1972-2000. International Studies Quarterly. Vol. 50, pp. 509-537.
Faculty may update their profile by visiting