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William A. JenningsWilliam A. Jennings

Distinguished Lecturer


Dr. Jennings' Vita



Will Jennings was born in Bristol, TN, and grew up in nearby Abingdon, VA.  He learned to love football while seated in the upper deck of Neyland Stadium and basketball while watching Tar Heel games with his dad.  As a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Will majored in Political Science and minored in History, taking advantage of opportunities to study abroad in Greece and conduct undergraduate research in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa with a UNC classmate.

As a Graduate Student at the University of South Carolina, Will explored his interests in Comparative Politics and International Relations through research trips with Professor Mark DeLancey to Cameroon and as part of a Fulbright Delegation to South Korea.  During the 2002 calendar year, Will was a guest researcher at Stellenbosch University outside Cape Town, South Africa.  While in Southern Africa he interviewed top decision makers at Central Banks, Treasury Departments, and Intergovernmental Organizations in Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, and Mozambique on the potential for deeper monetary integration and currency union in Southern Africa.

After teaching African Politics at the University of South Carolina during the spring semester of 2003, Will was hired as a lecturer at the University of Tennessee.  At UT, Will has taught courses on African Politics, South Asian Politics, Political Change in the Global South, Introduction to Political Science, Introduction to International Relations, the department's Honors Seminar on Globalization, a Howard Baker Center for Public Policy Seminar on "Envisioning Africa's Future", and Popular Culture and American Politics.  Will has won numerous teaching awards from across the discipline, including the American Political Science Association’s Michael Brintnall Teaching Award in 2016, the University of Tennessee Chancellor’s Teaching Award (2013), The College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence Award (2012), and the PanHellenic Association’s Teaching Award (2009, 2018).  Will passes on his teaching acumen by co-teaching the department’s graduate seminar on “Teaching Political Science”.

Will's research interests include numerous presentations and papers at the American Political Science Association and the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, as well as presentations at the International Studies Association-South meeting, and African Studies Association meetings.  He has frequently reviewed books for The African Book Publishing Record, and he recently wrote a chapter on South Africa for The African Search for Stable Forms of Statehood: Essays in Political Criticism.

Will is the faculty adviser for the UT College Democrats, which was named the organization’s national chapter of the year in 2008.  Will has spoken extensively at events sponsored by the African Students Association, UT Issues Committee, Baker Center, Haslam Scholars, and UT Thornton Athletics Life Center.  He is currently involved in the expanding mission of UT's Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, where he serves as a Faculty Associate.

Will, his wife Amnah, and their two daughters Aurora ("Rory") and Ariana live in the Fountain City area of Knoxville.  In 2012, Will was an Antiterrorism Academic Fellow in Israel and Palestine where he got the opportunity to interview failed suicide bombers, meet with government officials, and observe military exercises. One of the highlights of his long history of international engagement was teaching aboard Semester at Sea during their Spring 2017 sailing.  Teaching students across thirteen countries and directing field classes in Burma, South Africa, and Morocco.  Will's teaching is infused with stories about his travels to more than seventy countries in Africa, Asia, Central America, the Middle East, and Europe.

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