The Department of Government
The Department of Government

John Meyer

The University of Texas at Austin

John Meyer



Social and Evolutionary Psychology; Political Ethology; Qualitative Methods and Multi-Method Research; Latin America and Texas; Political Violence; Political Theater and Playwrighting; Voices of War; Military Ethics; Biography, modern British history and literature


John M. Meyer is an artist and social scientist studying at the University of Texas at Austin. 

In 2011 he earned a three year graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation to study the personal motives of individuals who participate in organized violence, and the subsequent psychological consequences of that participation. His research has examined the motives behind veteran suicide, kinship among soldiers, and moments when soldiers take political action. He is especially interested in examining the psychological motivations that underlie the behavior of 'elite' soldiers. Most recently, he began studying why military leaders deploy special operations forces, and why individuals choose to join such units. Meyer's dissertation examines the case of Orde Charles Wingate, one of the most controversial British generals of the Second World War, and a forerunner of modern special operations soldiering.

In addition to receiving funding from the National Science Foundation, his research has received support from the Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, the Program in British Studies, and the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies. 

Johnny's work as a playwright and an actor has been featured in the Austin Chronicle, The Austin American-Statesman, KUT radio, and the BBC online. His stage play "American Volunteers" won the 2010 Mitchell Award at the University of Texas, and subsequently made the long-list for the Dylan Thomas Prize in the United Kingdom. He performed at the White House thanks to Aquila Theatre's ongoing outreach program, "Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives." His plays have also received support from The Great Plains Theatre Conference, the Cohen New Works Festival, Austin Scriptworks, University Co-Op, Rubber Repertory, and Frontera Fest. In the spring of 2014, Lawrence University commissioned and debuted his play "Cryptomnesia."

Much of Johnny's work draws on his experiences as an Airborne Ranger. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and his military awards and badges include the Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Parachutist Badge, and Ranger Tab.


GOV 310L • American Government

37780 • Spring 2015
Meets MW 3:00PM-4:30PM UTC 3.122

This course is an introduction to American government and politics.  While the main focus is on the national level, additional attention is paid to the state and local governments of Texas. Topics will include U.S. political history, political institutions, elections, public opinion, rights and freedoms, and public policy issues.

GOV 360N • British Soldiers In Palestine

38904 • Fall 2014
Meets W 6:00PM-9:00PM CAL 221
EWr (also listed as HIS 366N, MES 343)

One Way to Live: British Soldiers in Palestine

This course uses the 'theme' of British soldiers in Palestine to introduce students to the ideas and discussions surrounding human nature and organized violence: Why do human beings go to war? Why do human beings form governments? Do governments make the world more or less dangerous? This course also explores the ethical issues surrounding human violence and human political action, especially within the context of the Near East. Our particular tools for investigating these issues will be historical and literary biography, as well as archived audio and video materials. In addition to the required reading listed below, each student creates a unique reading list in consultation with the instructor; most of the books on the student's unique reading list will either be histories that look at British Palestine, or else books that examine human violence as a discreet phenomena or ethical problem.

The main requirements of the course are met by students reading a book each week and by submitting a weekly critique of the reading. Each of the weekly critiques is circulated to all the other members of the class who make annotations on style as well as substance. Thus, the class also serves as a lesson in professional writing practices.

The required readings begin with two short books to introduce particular themes and familiarize students with the region: English's Modern War and Bunton's The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. We then use biography and autobiography to focus on two of the most mythologized soldiers in the history of the British Empire: T.E. Lawrence and Orde Wingate. Lawrence advocated for Arab nationalism in the First World War, while Wingate marshaled Zionism in the Second. The readings thereafter become more diverse, and the students have some influence on the process.

Following the approach of Professor William Roger Louis, the course seeks to enhance (1) intellectual curiosity; (2) conceptual clarity; (3) intellectual flexibility; (4) accuracy and attention to detail; (5) critical engagement; (6) capacity for hard work; (7) enthusiasm for history, literature, and politics; and (8) historical imagination and understanding, that is, the possession of appropriate historical knowledge and the capacity to deploy it. Students of psychology, violence, rhetoric, imperialism, political science, British history, and Middle Eastern studies will find the course useful.

Ethics and Leadership Flag

This course carries the Ethics and Leadership flag. Ethics and Leadership courses are designed to equip you with skills that are necessary for making ethical decisions in your adult and professional life. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments involving ethical issues and the process of applying ethical reasoning to real-life situations.

Writing Flag

This course carries the Writing Flag. Writing Flag courses are designed to give students experience with writing in an academic discipline. In this class, you can expect to write regularly during the semester, complete substantial writing projects, and receive feedback from your instructor to help you improve your writing. You will also have the opportunity to revise one or more assignments, and you may be asked to read and discuss your peers’ work. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from your written work. Writing Flag classes meet the Core Communications objectives of Critical Thinking, Communication, Teamwork, and Personal Responsibility, established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.


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    The University of Texas at Austin
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